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The Documentary

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London, United Kingdom




In-depth investigations and reports reveal a window on the world to help you understand what lies behind the headlines.



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My First Period

Periods are a taboo subject in many parts of the world. But for some Tanzanians, like BBC reporter Tulanana Bohela, a girl’s first period is celebrated. When she got her first period her female relatives gathered round to shower her with gifts. They sat her down and gave her life lessons on how to be a woman. One of those lessons was that she must keep her periods secret.

Duration: 00:27:11

Beats, Rhymes and Justice: Hip Hop on Rikers Island

MC and producer Ryan Burvick takes us behind bars on Rikers Island, New York’s largest and troubled Jail. He leads a music production programme there called Beats, Rhymes and Justice, which helps inmates write rhymes, make music and imagine their future off the island in a different light. We hear from three of its students, all aged between 18-21 and awaiting trial.

Duration: 00:50:43

Starting from Scratch in Uganda

Last year Uganda took in more refugees than any other country. But how do the South Sudanese, fleeing civil war, transform the African Bush into a new home? Ruth Alexander reports

Duration: 00:26:57

The Flying Colombians

Colombia is a country of passionate cyclists. The first bike races took place in Bogota in 1894 and by 1898 it was one of the first countries to have two purpose built velodromes. In the 1950s the great Vuelta a Colombia, a tour of Colombia, was born - 35 cyclists covered an extraordinary 779 miles in 10 stages. All over the country people listened to the commentary on radios and it began to link up Colombians in a common cause.

Duration: 00:27:24

The Gardeners of Kabul

We are all familiar with the picture of the Afghan man with his large beard and Kalashnikov rifle - now meet the men with secateurs and watering cans. Gardening is in their blood and it has been forever. You can see this in Babur’s Garden, which was laid out in the early 16th Century by the man who established the Mughal dynasty in India. Largely destroyed during the civil war of the 1990s, the garden is once more a notable feature of the city, its largest public space.

Duration: 00:27:23

Seeking Refuge in Houston

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, refugees and undocumented immigrants, already scared about deportation and the risks of interacting with government, must seek help from the same authorities they fear might seek to look into their immigration status. As Houston comes together, the city’s mosques and Islamic centres have opened their doors to all who need shelter. Volunteers from all backgrounds have been helping those who need rescue and immediate relief. For a brief moment, prejudices...

Duration: 00:27:38

Lonely in Lagos

Poet and journalist Wana Udobang travels round her home city, Lagos, speaking to people who are lonely and isolated in Africa's most populous city. She meets a young gay man who opens up about his feelings of isolation in the light of strict laws on homosexuality, meets a group of displaced women who are coming together to combat loneliness in poverty, and visits a cycling club and an elderly community centre.

Duration: 00:50:38

New Podcast: In The Studio

Hear all about our new podcast and discover how the most creative people make their work. In The Studio starts on 11 September 2017. You will meet famous artists, writers, sports stars, musicians, DJs, film-makers, designers and more. Explore the creative process like never before. Subscribe to In The Studio now and listen to our preview.

Duration: 00:02:39

Bulgaria on a Cliff Edge

What’s it like to live in the country with the fastest-shrinking population in the world? Ruth Alexander reports.

Duration: 00:27:22

The Hundred Million Dollar Question - Part Two

What’s the best way to spend $100 million to fix one huge problem in the world today? That is the challenge laid down by the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, distributors of the “genius grant”. Ed Butler and a panel of expert guests hear the details of four of the final eight challengers, with ideas to transform the quality of the food we eat and to train eye surgeons to restore sight to vast numbers in Nepal, Ethiopia and Ghana. Is $100 million enough to tackle these challenges and what...

Duration: 00:26:31

Die Klassen: Die Trennung

In the summer of 2015 tens of thousands of Syrians left their war torn homeland and put their lives in the hands of the smugglers who would help them navigate the hazardous route to Europe. Among the new arrivals were Mohammed Dallal, a man in his late 40s and his 16-year-old daughter Noor. Amy Zayed and Laura Graen have accompanied Mohamed and Noor for nearly two years through the emotional and bureaucratic vagaries of the refugee life. In this programme, we hear whether the family is, at...

Duration: 00:27:09

Abdi in America

A young Somali refugee struggles to live the American dream in the USA's whitest state, during the rise of Donald Trump. Is the dream still possible? In December 2014, in 'Abdi and the Golden Ticket,' the BBC's Leo Hornak followed Somali refugee Abdi Nor Iftin as he battled to make it to America through the US green card lottery. Since then, Abdi been trying to make a new life for himself in the US state of Maine, striving to become a 'real American'. He hopes to get educated and start a...

Duration: 00:27:02

The Hundred Million Dollar Question - Part One

What is the best way to spend $100 million to fix one huge problem in the world today? That is the challenge laid down by the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, distributors of the “genius grant”. They created the 100&Change competition to inspire solutions for some of the looming disasters facing people, places or the planet. The prize is one colossal grant of $100 million for the project which can make the most lasting difference to people’s lives.

Duration: 00:26:32

South America in the South Atlantic

Britain and Argentina’s competing claims over a small group of islands in the South Atlantic go back almost 250 years. In English they’re known as the Falkland Islands, after the 17th-century British lord Falkland. Matthew Teller explores the enduring connections of history, culture and identity that link the Falkland islands and the continent of South America.

Duration: 00:26:31

Reformation 500

Chris Bowlby visits Wittenberg, where Martin Luther started it all in 1517. He discovers how the Reformation transformed life in many different ways, and helped make Germany a nation of singers and book-lovers. But amidst all the culture and kitsch Germany's also grappling with a darker legacy - Luther's anti-Semitism and exploitation by dictators and populists.

Duration: 00:49:26

Counting Babies in Niger

Women in Niger have more children, on average, than anywhere else in the world. The government of Niger can’t support such a fast growing population and wants traditions to change

Duration: 00:26:28

Going Green in the Oil State

Why has a heavily Republican city in Texas, chock full of climate change sceptics, become the first city in the South to be powered entirely by renewable energy? And why, just a few miles away, has a small town consisting of a lone truck stop and a deserted dirt road they call Main Street, become the richest area in the entire United States? As Donald Trump pulls the US out of the Paris Climate Accords, and talks up the use of fossil fuels, we explore the unexpected reality of the energy...

Duration: 00:26:32

Venezuela - A Week In The Life Of A Country In Chaos

Venezuela has some of the largest oil reserves in the world but incredibly, around four in five Venezuelans live in poverty. The BBC's South America correspondent, Katy Watson, went to cover the unfolding political and economic crisis in Venezuela and found a country divided. (Photo: Anti-government graffiit. Credit: Katy Watson/BBC)

Duration: 00:26:31

Romania’s Webcam Boom

Inside Romania’s live, web-camming world – the engine of the online sex industry… Assignment explores the fastest growing sector of so-called, ‘adult’ entertainment.

Duration: 00:28:10

Partion Voices: Aftermath

On the 70th anniversary of the partition of India, Kavita Puri hears remarkable testimonies from people who witnessed the drama first hand - and even took part in it. They speak with remarkable clarity about the tumultuous events, whose legacy endures to this day. Witnesses describe the immediate aftermath of partition itself. As the former British territories were divided into two new dominions of India and Pakistan, millions on both sides of the new border found themselves in the wrong...

Duration: 00:24:11

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