TV and Radio highlights: 18 – 24 April 2014

By Jon Bauckham, 17 April 2014 - 9:12pm

The Trinity Boys' Choir and the Gabrieli Consort recreate the very first performance of Handel's choral masterpiece in Messiah at the Foundling Hospital (Credit: BBC)

Pick of the week

Messiah at the Foundling Hospital
Saturday 19 April, 9pm, BBC Two

Handel’s Messiah is often heralded as one of the greatest choral works in Western music. However, few people know about its premiere on 1 May 1750, when the piece was performed at a charity concert to raise money for London’s Foundling Hospital – the pioneering children's institution set up by Thomas Coram. In this documentary, Tom Service and Amanda Vickery explore the fascinating story behind the concert, as well as the plight of London’s poor at the time. To help viewers get a sense of the full picture, the Trinity Boys’ Choir and the Gabrieli Consort recreate the original performance in the hospital chapel, with conductor Paul McCreesh taking on the role of Handel himself.

Also this week

Who Do You Think You Are?
Friday 18 April, 8pm, Yesterday

On Friday there’s another chance to catch June Brown's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? from 2011. Best known as Dot Cotton from EastEnders, the 84-year-old actor explores her Jewish heritage and finds tales of Spanish royalty, religious intolerance and bare-knuckle boxing champions.

The Crimson Field
Sunday 20 April, 9pm, BBC One

Having struggled to cope with a big wave of casualties in the second episode, this week’s instalment of The Crimson Field sees the doctors, nurses and volunteers face up to the realities of war and tend to their own (emotional) wounds. Just as Captain Gillan falls victim to a bullying major who is dismissive of his methods, he finds himself struggling hold back his feelings for Kitty Trevelyan. Morale at the camp is also dampened by the presence of a terrified patient who faces court martial.

Essay: In Praise of the Midlands
Starts Monday 21 April, 10.45pm, BBC Radio 3

People often talk about England in terms of its North and South divide – without ever acknowledging that big bit in the middle. This week on BBC Radio 3, five essayists buck the trend and shed light on the history of the Midlands and some of its most famous figures. First up on Monday evening is Geoff Dyer, who discusses accents, football teams and Nottinghamshire-born author DH Lawrence. For details of the other essays recorded for the series, click here.

Ian Hislop's Olden Days
Wednesday 23 April, 9pm, BBC One

From First World War propaganda posters to chocolate boxes, the British countryside has always been presented a symbol of patriotic pride and rustic beauty. In this final episode of Britain’s Olden Days, Ian Hislop examines the roots of this obsession, and how nostalgia for a ‘green and pleasant land’ found its way into the works of JRR Tolkien and paintings of Myles Birket Foster.

Births, Deaths and Marriages
Thursday 24 April, 10.35pm, ITV

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in a local register office? Now’s your chance! Filmed last summer, this fly-on-the-wall documentary follows staff at Old Marylebone Town Hall as they deal with those who pass through the doors to register life’s biggest events. Highlights include a couple that have to scour the streets to find witnesses for their nuptials, as well as the fanfare surrounding the Borough of Westminster’s most significant new arrival, Prince George. 

Words: Jon Bauckham

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Weekly round-up: Major Australian and Canadian record sets go online
previous news Article
Huguenot Heritage Centre receives £1.2 million grant
next news Article
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