The Inquiry-logo

The Inquiry


Description One pressing question from the news. Four expert witnesses. Challenging answers.

Description One pressing question from the news. Four expert witnesses. Challenging answers.
More Information


United Kingdom




Description One pressing question from the news. Four expert witnesses. Challenging answers.




What is Happening to IS fighters Now?

From courtrooms and prisons to rehab centres and martial arts training. We look to Europe, Iraq, Central Asia and Saudi Arabia to investigate how they are dealing with Islamic State militants. The defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has raised a new, global challenge. While Iraq is funnelling huge numbers of Islamic State suspects through its courts, thousands of foreign fighters are returning to their home countries. What is happening to former IS fighters? (Photo: A man takes down a...


Is Facebook in Trouble?

It is one of the largest, most profitable companies in the world, with billions of users, but more and more questions are being asked of Facebook. Accused of allowing the spread of fake news and hate speech, and of turning a blind eye to election meddling by Russia, Facebook is in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg has committed himself to “fixing Facebook.” With the help of experts in the field, in the US, India and Germany, we ask if Facebook...


What happens when a cyber-attack strikes?

The US and UK governments have accused Russia of orchestrating the most damaging cyber-attack in history. It caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage in over 60 countries. This programme tells the story of the attack as it unfolded across the globe. With the help of the world’s leading cyber security experts we take a forensic look at how the attack began, the extraordinary way in which it spread, and examine the international repercussions. (A laptop displays a message after being...


How Do You Close The Gender Pay Gap?

Women earn less than men in every country in the world. Women are now more educated than ever before. But, on average, they don't take home the same in their pay packets. And laws against discrimination in the workplace haven't been enough to close the gap. This inequality in wages has proven difficult to shift. Governments, employers and unions are struggling to find solutions to this stubborn and deep-rooted problem. How do you close the gender pay gap? (image: Women from Dawson Street...


Why is Cape Town Running Out of Water?

It is feared than in a few months’ time Cape Town could run out of water. The city is planning for so-called Day Zero when the supply is switched off and people will have to collect water rations. Cape Town is an extreme example of what is now a global phenomenon of water scarcity. We investigate how the city got so close to the brink, and whether there’s anything that other cities around the world can do to avoid a similar fate. (image: A man collects drinking water from taps that are fed...


Why Are the Taliban So Resilient?

The Taliban have staged devastating attacks in the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, in recent weeks. And a BBC study has discovered the group is active across the majority of the country – pushing beyond its traditional southern stronghold into eastern, western and northern parts. Seventeen years after the Taliban were toppled by a US-led invasion, it is clear the insurgent group has not been defeated. Why are the Taliban so resilient? Presenter: Helena Merriman Producers: Ruth Alexander and...


How Did We Get Hooked on Plastic?

The story of how the search for a material to replace ivory changed our lives forever. In the 19th century a billiard ball company placed an advert in a newspaper offering $10,000 to anyone who could come up with a substitute for ivory. There was growing concern that companies were hunting elephants into extinction so they could use their ivory for billiard balls, buttons and umbrella handles. The story that follows takes us from explosive factories that often went up in smoke to the...


What Does China Want in The South China Sea?

China has long been keen to assert its authority in the South China Sea. In recent years, it has undertaken a huge programme of island-building to stake its claim to the region. Fiery Cross, once a tiny reef, is now a fortified airbase. And this is just one of China’s seven artificial islands in the Sea. But China is not the only one. Bordered by seven states, many others also claim parts of the South China Sea as their own. Experts warn these hotly contested waters could be a flashpoint...


What’s the Greatest Threat to Poland?

The EU’s launched the ‘nuclear option’ against Poland, the first time it’s triggered the disciplinary measure in its history. They say recent changes to the legal system mean there is a serious threat to the rule of law and as a punishment, Poland could lose its voting rights in the European Union. The ruling party say this is an attack on Poland and that the EU should not be telling them what to do. The government says that actually their judiciary is threatened by the legacy of communism...


What is IS doing in the Philippines?

In 2017 the black flag of the Islamic State group flew in the southern Philippines as a mixture of local and foreign fighters attacked the Islamic City of Marawi. While the government did eventually regain control, it took five months to break the siege and many terrorist leaders escaped during the fighting. It's led to fears that the extremist violence could spread. In this Inquiry we investigate the long history of conflict which provided a fertile place for IS's Islamist ideas to grow,...


Is Zero Tolerance the Right Approach for FGM?

In 1994 a United Nations conference, backed by 173 countries, announced that ‘female genital mutilation’ was a “violation of basic rights and a major lifelong risk to women’s health”. Agreeing it should end, international agencies and charities quickly swung into action, and over the next two decades millions were spent on campaigns to eradicate the practise around the world. Today though, pricking or cutting of the genitalia still happens to an estimated 3 million girls a year in 30...


What’s The Point Of Bitcoin?

Making sense of the digital currency and the ideology of its founders, fans and future. In 2010 a developer spent 10,000 bitcoin to buy two pizzas. Seven and a half years later that was the equivalent of over $80m. Bitcoin has been exploding in value throughout 2017 as more and more people buy into the idea of a digital currency. Traditional financial institutions have even begun to get involved. But far from a mainstream investment, Bitcoin started life as an idea from the radical...


The North Korea Deep Dive

In a special, extended one hour edition of The Inquiry, we bring expert witnesses together around the table to make sense of one of the biggest geopolitical challenges of our time: North Korea. At the end of a year of increasingly regular nuclear weapons tests which have sparked an undiplomatic war of words between the regime and the US the ‘deep dive’ explores Kim Jong-Un's nuclear ambitions, the diplomatic stand-off with the US, and North Korea's relations with its neighbours. Ruth...


How Do We Rule The Universe?

Governing moon miners, asteroid hunters and space junk sounds pretty tricky, but we better get our act together. This year the majority of space launches included commercial enterprises. Space is no longer just the playground of governments but companies; companies that want to mine the moon for water that they could sell as rocket fuel, companies that want to mine the moon for helium -3 which could be sold and used as energy back on earth and companies that want to mine asteroids for...


How Powerful is Facebook's Algorithm?

There is a place on the internet where almost two billion of us regularly go – many of us, every day. Facebook: the social network which Mark Zuckerberg started in his university dorm room and which has grown, in a little over a decade, into one of the most valuable companies in the world. But what does Facebook’s lines of computer code do with the data we give it – and what could it do in the future? Just how powerful is Facebook's algorithm? The answer will surprise you. Produced by...


Are We Missing A Bigger Opioid Crisis?

Forty-two Americans die every day from an overdose involving painkilling prescription opioids. President Donald Trump recently declared the US opioid epidemic a national public health emergency. Yet in the world’s poorest countries, cancer patients and people recovering from major surgery often get no effective pain relief at all. Why is access to prescription painkillers so unequal? And is the shortage of opioids in much of the world getting the attention it deserves? (View of poppies in...


What would an Iran-Saudi Arabia war look like?

Missiles, fighter jets and mines waiting on the sea bed: war games in the gulf. Tension between the two countries is at an unprecedented level since a missile was intercepted over Saudi Arabia’s capital city. The Saudi Crown Prince blames Iran and says the attack may be considered an act of war. This is what would happen if they did go to war. (An Iranian missile is test-launched during war games in Qom, south of Tehran. Photo Credit: Shaigan/Getty Images)


Why Doesn’t Apple Pay More Tax?

The world’s most profitable company is accused of aggressively dodging tax. Leaked documents in the Paradise Papers show Apple moved hundreds of billions of dollars in untaxed foreign profits to Jersey, where foreign companies pay no corporation tax. Yet Apple says it pays “every dollar it owes in every country around the world”. Confused? Not for long. (Customers wait in front of the giant Apple logo for the store to open in Munich, Germany. Photo Credit: Christof Stache/GettyImages)


What Does the Saudi Crown Prince Want?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrested over a dozen Princes and government ministers on corruption charges. To turn on his own royal family, he must be serious. But is corruption the Crown Prince’s real target or is this a power grab? There are also fears that the aggressive stance he has taken with Lebanon, Yemen and Qatar is increasing tensions with regional rival Iran. If the tension reaches a tipping point, there are fears the conflict could widen beyond the region. So what is he up...


Is The Knowledge Factory Broken?

Academic research stands accused of turning a blind eye to dodgy data, failing to reconcile contradictory findings and valuing money over knowledge. We examine the criticisms, which go the very heart of our pursuit of knowledge. (Scientist working in a research laboratory. Credit: Shutterstock)


See More