TV & radio: what to tune into next week (15–21 April 2017)

Can't decide which shows to watch or listen to next week? Here are 10 programmes you won't want to miss…

Versailles. (Image Credit © Tibo & Anouchka, Capa Drama, ZodiakFiction & Docs, I
Drama: Bach: The Great Passion 
Radio 4
Saturday 15 April, 2.30pm
 
It’s 1727 and Johann Sebastian Bach has a deadline. He needs to have his St Matthew Passion written and rehearsed in time for it to be performed on Good Friday. Simon Russell Beale stars as the composer in James Runcie’s drama.
 
 
The Reunion 
Radio 4
Sunday 16 April (Easter Sunday), 11.15am
 
Sue MacGregor gathers together five women musicians whose lives were shaped by punk. Gaye Advert, bassist in The Adverts; Toyah Willcox, star of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee; Gina Birch of The Raincoats, a huge influence on Nirvana; Tessa Pollitt, who quit school to join The Slits; and Flying Lizards vocalist Vivien Goldman, now a professor of punk, look back. 
 
 
Rome’s Sunken Secrets 
Channel 4
Sunday 16 April (Easter Sunday), 8.00pm
 
At the upmarket holiday retreat of Baiae, located in the modern-day Bay of Naples, Romans threw lavish parties, conducted love affairs and schemed against rivals. In a one-off documentary, a team of historians examine artifacts from the settlement, while volcanologists investigate why it sank into the sea.
 
 

Rome’s Sunken Secrets. (Channel 4)
 
 
Home Front 
Radio 4
Monday 17 April (Easter Monday), 12.04pm
 
The weekday series set a century ago returns. In the first of 40 new episodes, Ralph Winwood is back from France in Folkestone. Listen out too for Drama: Tommies (2.15pm), in which Mickey Bliss lies seriously wounded in an officers-only hospital in Le Touquet. There’s an omnibus edition of Home Front every Friday (9.00pm).
 
 
The Ideas That Made Us 
Radio 4
Monday 17 April (Easter Monday), 1.45pm
 
Bettany Hughes’ weekday series tracing the development of concepts rooted in the ancient world returns. Hughes begins with hope, and visits a Buddhist Temple, the Palace of Westminster and the UK's largest food bank to learn why we’re hard-wired to believe things can get better.

 
Inside The Tube: Going Underground  
Channel 5
Easter Monday, 9.00pm
 
Rob Bell continues his history of London’s subway system by telling the story behind the building of the first part of the underground system, which ran between Paddington and Farringdon. The line opened in 1863 and Bell rides on one of its original steam trains. For passengers, he learns, the line would have been an unpleasant experience.
 
 
Ortona 1943 – A Very Bloody Christmas 
PBS America 
Wednesday 19 April, 9.00pm
 
Fought between Canadian and German troops, the 1943 battle to control the coastal town of Ortona was so brutal it was dubbed the “Italian Stalingrad”. This documentary recalls what happened. Also on PBS America, Monte Cassino: Nine Months In Hell (Thursday 20 April, 9.00pm) charts another notoriously bloody and fierce encounter during the Italian campaign.
 
 

The Last Kingdom. (Image Credit: BBC/Carnival/Boris Martin)

The Last Kingdom 

BBC Two 
Thursday 20 April, 9.00pm
 
The saga based on Bernard Cornwell’s historical novels continues with a royal wedding in Winchester to unite Aethelred and Aethelflaed. The celebrations don’t last long, though, because war clouds are gathering. A job for Wessex warlord Uhtred? Of course, but he’s fallen out with Alfred. Again. 
 
 
Timeshift: Dial “B” For Britain – The Story Of The Landline 
BBC Four 
Thursday 20 April, 9.00pm
 
Here’s a historical story mobile-first kids youngsters may find hard to grasp, the tale of how the nation’s fixed-line phone network was built over the course of a century. Evocative shots of red phone boxes and the Post Office Tower feature heavily. Victoria Coren Mitchell narrates.
 
 

Pick of the week

Versailles  
BBC Two
Friday 21 April, 9.30pm
 
The lavish and decidedly racy costume drama set in 17th-century France returns for a second series. First up, there’s a poisoning and Philippe’s exiled lover, Chevalier, is allowed home. Followed by Inside Versailles, which sees Kate Williams and Greg Jenner profiling Louis XIV’s mistress, Madame de Montespan.
 
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