He was the peasant who went from a village in Siberia to the centre of the Russian imperial court, befriending the Tsar and Tsarina, and playing a role in the downfall of Russia’s longest-serving dynasty, The Romanovs.
In this episode, we'll learn about the unlikely but fascinating life of Grigori Rasputin.
He was a famous organised criminal known for his superior mathematical skills.
In this episode, we'll learn how Meyer Lansky took the American criminal underworld by storm, built an empire and managed to evade the authorities.
For a 13-year period, the United States of America conducted a "Noble Experiment" where alcohol was made illegal.
It was a bold idea, but it didn't have the results people had hoped for.
He was the brilliant Serbian scientist most famous for his inventions in the field of electrical engineering.
In this episode, we'll look at the eccentric genius behind inventions such as the AC motor and the Tesla coil.
In the late 19th century there was fierce competition to provide electricity to the rapidly industrialising USA. The winner would be rewarded with huge wealth and fame.
But who would claim the prize, and how dirty would the fight get?
He was the world's first "celebrity inventor", and was credited with inventing the incandescent light bulb, phonograph and even a talking doll.
But how much of Edison's work was real "invention", and how much was building on what had come before?
For much of human civilisation, people have fought each to the death as a way of resolving arguments.
In this episode, we'll explore the curious and bloody history of one-on-one combat, from ancient Rome to 20th century France.
She was the fiery Celtic queen who rose up against the all-powerful Roman army and almost defeated it.
In this episode, we'll learn about the story of this amazing woman's rebellion against the Romans and the mark she left on British history and culture.
There are over a billion smokers across the world, and over 7 trillion cigarettes are smoked every year.
In this episode, we'll look at the history of smoking, from the "discovery" of tobacco by Christopher Columbus to how tobacco companies keep us smoking, even when we know the dangers to our health.
In the 18th century, a small region of southwest England was the national centre for the illegal importing of goods such as tea and rum.
In this episode, we'll discover how smuggling really worked, who was involved, and why it was so successful for such a long period of time.
In September 1939, the British government embarked on the biggest civilian operation in British history when it moved over a million children out of British cities to live with strangers in the countryside.
In this episode, we'll learn about this amazing mission and the mark it left on the country.
For centuries it was believed to be a mythical freezing island on the edge of the world, too cold to sustain human life.
But now historians believe that they have finally solved the mystery of the freezing island of Thule.
It's the second most popular drink in the world after water, with 3.7 billion cups drunk every single day.
In this episode, we explore tea's fascinating history, how it changed global politics, caused countries to go to war with each other, and literally changed the world
They are probably the most infamous criminal couple in history, and their story of love, robberies, murder and running away from the law has been immortalised in books, film, TV series, song, and popular culture.
But who were the real Bonnie & Clyde?
In the summer of 1858 London was hit by a terrible smell coming from the river Thames.
In this episode, we'll learn about why the capital city smelled so bad, what was done about it, and the solution found by an ingenious civil engineer to ensure it never happened again.
In the 17th century, Britain decided to kill its king and experiment with life without a monarch.
In this episode we'll learn about the English Civil War, the 11 years the country spent without a monarch, why the monarchy was eventually restored, and the impact this had on the country.
As a general rule, people are very bad at predicting the future.
In this episode, we'll take a look at some predictions of the future from the past, looking at what people thought our "today" would be like, the times they got it wrong, the times they got it eerily correct, and we'll also look at some predictions about what the future holds for future generations.
Ronnie and Reggie Kray were two twin brothers who terrorised London during the 1950s and 60s.
In this episode, learn about how they built up their criminal empire, partied with celebrities, slept with politicians and threatened anyone who got in their way.
He was the most famous bank robber in American history and is still thought of as a Robin Hood-type figure in popular culture.
Learn about how John Dillinger went from a quiet life to becoming America's Public Enemy Number One, and how the law finally caught up with him.
He was the most famous gangster in American history and dominated Prohibition-era Chicago.
In this episode, we look at the criminal mastermind with the nickname "Scarface", and see how he gained control over a billion-dollar illegal empire.
The Peaky Blinders were a violent gang that terrorised the streets of Birmingham in the late 19th century.
Who actually were these men, what did they do, to who and why, and were the "real" Peaky Blinders anything like the ones in the TV series?
Within the course of a few years, Robert Baden-Powell created a global movement that united children from all over the world.
In this episode, we'll take a look at how he came up with the idea, why it was so appealing, and the legacy that he has left on the world.
Although there have always been children, the concept of "childhood" is more recent than many people think, with one French historian declaring that childhood didn't exist until the 17th century.
In this episode, we'll explore how ideas of childhood have changed, from John Locke to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from the English Romantic poets right through to the creation of the teenager in post-war America.
It's the capital of the UK and one of the most important cities in the world.
In this episode, we'll look at the amazing history of London, from its Roman roots through to fires, plagues, Nazi attacks, right through to the modern-day.
She is the longest-serving monarch in British history and has lived through 14 British prime ministers and 13 US presidents.
In this episode, we'll take a look at the remarkable life of Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, and ask ourselves how she, the monarchy, and the country have changed since she became queen almost 70 years ago.
It's one of the largest robberies in history and resulted in the disappearance of $600 million worth of art.
Discover what the robbers did, what happened afterwards, who the main suspects are, and why the case may never be solved.
From 1995 to 2001, a man from eastern France stole 239 different pieces of art from 172 museums, an average of one theft every 14 days.
It's estimated that the value of all the stolen art was over 1 billion Euros, but he never sold a single piece of it.
In this episode, part 1 of our three-part series on Art Theft, it's time to learn about five of the most famous art thefts of all time.
From Mexican university dropouts to the time an art gallery made €50 million after a theft, we look at how and why famous art is stolen, and who is usually behind it.
"Let's jump on board and cut them to pieces!" - Blackbeard.
"A merry life and a short one" - Captain Bartholomew Roberts.
Pirates have a special place in our imagination. They are both heroes and villains, their lives attractive but scary.
In this episode, we'll take a closer look at pirates through history, the situations that allowed them to exist and prosper, what life as a pirate was actually like, what caused the Golden Age of Piracy to come to an end, and the legacy that they left behind.
For a period of around 150 years, groups of men terrorised the English roads.
They would rush out in front of carriages, point a pistol at the people inside, and take all of their money.
In this episode, we'll look at what circumstances allowed highwaymen to flourish, what they actually did, and why they have been romanticised ever since.
In September 1519, a Portuguese explorer and a crew of 270 men set sail from Spain trying to find a sea route west, through the Americas.
Three years later, 18 of the men returned, tired and hungry, but becoming the first people to have successfully completed a full circle of the Earth.
In 73BC, a group of 70 gladiators escaped from a training school outside Naples.
It turned into the biggest slave rebellion in ancient history and has inspired people all over the world.
In this episode, we'll learn about what actually happened, why the rebellion was so successful, and the fascinating legacy it has left.
In 1745 Charles Stuart arrived on the west coast of Scotland with the aim of taking back the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland.
It didn't go as planned and resulted in the last battle fought on British soil.
In this episode, we'll learn about his failed rebellion, and the legacy he has left on Great Britain.
She became queen of Scotland when she was only six days old, and the rest of her life was filled with tragedy, betrayal, and bad men.
Learn all about the history of this brave queen, and what her story tells us about life as a woman in the sixteenth century.
He was the Scottish rebel who fought against the English and has become the most famous freedom fighter in Scottish history.
In this episode, we'll learn all about his battles against the English, and the legacy that William Wallace left on the country.
He was the iconic wartime leader of the United Kingdom, but his life was not without controversy.
Learn about his fascinating life, his work, and the legacy he has left on Britain.
After the end of the Second World War, the US and the USSR were locked in a race to get to space first.
Discover how the race started, who scored all the early points, and why going to the moon first was the biggest prize in space history.
British food has a bad reputation. It's often considered boring, uninspiring, and tasteless.
But it hasn't always been this way.
Discover what role William the Conqueror, Henry VIII, The French Revolution and Colonialism all played in making British food taste the way it does.
Spices are an integral part of almost every cuisine in the world and are something that most of us now take for granted.
Yet spices used to be an incredibly valuable commodity and were the preserve of only the very richest in some societies.
In this episode, we'll learn more about how they went from being the preserve of the very richest in society to something that we sprinkle on our dishes without worrying about the cost.
In AD79 Mount Vesuvius erupted, covering much of the nearby area in a thick layer of ash and killing thousands of people.
Today we tell the story of what happened, what archaeologists discovered in the ancient town, and what secrets about Roman life have been uncovered.
The Olympics are meant to be a politics-free zone.
But is this ever really possible?
In this episode, we'll learn about the history of The Olympics, and analyse five times politics was at the heart of the games.
“A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.”
It was the trip of a lifetime, where young, aristocratic British men would travel across Europe and open their eyes to new worlds.
Discover why these men would do this, how they travelled, what they got up to, and what it tells us about our relationship with tourism today.
It is the most famous revolution in Europe and saw the continent's most populous country execute its monarch and restructure its society.
From guillotines to out of touch queens, the French Revolution is the story of how France became the country of "liberté, égalité, and fraternité".
The United States of America is a global superpower, but 250 years ago its eastern states belonged to Great Britain.
Learn about how they broke free, why they rose up against their colonial masters, and how the story almost had a very different ending.
It was the period in the mid 18th century where Britain experienced a radical transformation.
The Industrial Revolution saw huge improvements in manufacturing, millions of people move to the cities and the fabric of British society change forever.
It was the intellectual movement in 17th and 18th century Europe, where thinkers started to question the status quo.
From science to philosophy, The Age of Enlightenment saw an explosion in critical thinking and laid the groundwork for some huge shifts in society.
On June the 18th, 1982, a man was found hanging from under a bridge in London.
His name was Roberto Calvi, and he was the boss of one of Italy's largest private banks, with strong links to the Vatican.
Here is the story about who he was, what he was doing, who might have killed him, and why we might never know the truth.
It has been called the "bloodiest business in history", and cost the lives of 3 million whales.
In today's episode, we take a look at the amazing history of whaling, from how it really worked to the reasons it went on for so long.
In 1565 an army of 40,000 Ottoman soldiers attacked the tiny island of Malta.
On the island, a force of just 700 Knights and 8,000 Maltese soldiers stood against the invading army.
Here is the fantastic story of what actually happened.
It's one of the four countries that form part of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and has a fantastic history of invention, rivalry with its neighbour, and fierce pride.
In this episode, we take a look at the fantastic history of Scotland and ask ourselves how long it will remain part of the UK.
In the first part of our three-part series, we take a look at the fascinating history of Disney.
From why Mickey Mouse isn't a rabbit through to what Walt Disney was like as a person, the history of Disney is as interesting as it is magical.
It's the day of the year where we celebrate love and desire.
But where does it actually come from?
The origins of Valentine's Day are mysterious, and not even that closely related to love at all.
It was the most deadly pandemic in human history, and was responsible for reducing the world's population by half a billion people.
Learn about the gruesome story of The Black Death, from how it started through to the devastating effects it had on Europe and the Middle East.
He was the ruler of the Mongols and the most powerful man in the world.
In this episode, you'll learn about his early life, how he united the Mongol tribes, and we'll ask ourselves whether he was really as brutal as he is often made out to be.
He was the charismatic, guerilla fighter who will forever be associated with pro-independence movements, and is an Italian national hero.
In this episode you'll learn about his fascinating life, and the unlikely story of how he managed to unify Italy.
You might think that nothing of historical importance ever happens on Christmas Day, but you'd be wrong.
Here are 9 weird and wonderful events.
The one thing they have in common? They all happened on December 25th.
In 1666 a huge fire swept through London, destroying much of the city and making a third of the population homeless.
Learn about how it started, what happened, why it happened, and the effect it left on the country's capital.
He was the founding father of China, and ruled the country until his death until 1976.
Learn about his early life, his rise to power, his rule of China, and the complicated legacy he left behind.
Discover how one small country's appetite for expansion led it to control a quarter of the world's population and a quarter of the world's land area.
Learn about the how, when, and why of the British empire, and learn about the complicated legacy it has left in Britain and abroad.
Starting in the 17th century, Britain sent hundreds of thousands of people to America and Australia for crimes as small as stealing a loaf of bread.
Learn about why this happened, how it worked, and the legacy it has left on the countries where these prisoners were sent to.
Learn about the fascinating history of this little bean, how it was first discovered, helped create the 'penny university' and rose to its current position as the world's most popular drug.
He was called 'probably the best orator in England', and founded The British Union of Fascists.
Learn about the fascinating life of Oswald Mosley, how he brought fascism to Britain, and why it was soundly rejected by the British people.
For almost 300 years the Vikings terrorised large parts of Europe, arriving in boats and killing anyone that got in their way.
But they were also traders, inventors, and storytellers, and they have had a lasting legacy on the world we live in.
In the 19th century Britain went to war with China over the drugs, causing the downfall of ancient China and a 'century of humiliation'.
Discover what happened, why Britain did this, and why this story is vitally important if you want to understand modern China.
The Medici family rose to power in Florence in the 1400s, and controlled the city for a large part of the Renaissance. Their legacy lives on through much of the art, culture, and architecture that we now take for granted.
In this episode we tell the story of how they rose to power and developed the idea of modern philanthropy.
Tito, the former president of Yugoslavia, survived 21 assassination attempts, fought in two world wars, and managed to stand up to Josef Stalin and live to tell the tale.
In this episode we tell the tale of the fascinating life of Josip Broz, 'Tito'.
Discover the story of the man who escaped the Nazis, built up a publishing empire in Great Britain, then died mysteriously off the coast of the Canary Islands after stealing £500 million from his employees’ pension pots.
In the 19th century, young British and Russian men played a dangerous diplomatic game in central Asia.
Discover the unknown story of how these two empires fought for power in Afghanistan, and the men behind the story.
In 1983, a 16 year old girl who lived in the Vatican City didn't return home after a music lesson.
This true story involves the pope, gangsters, Turkish ultra-nationalists, and The Vatican Bank.
It's time to tell the story of Emanuela Orlandi.
In 1851, in London's Hyde Park, an immense glass structure towered above the trees.
Inside was an exhibition of the latest technologies, available for all to see.
It was so impressive that 1/3 of the British population came to see it, and Queen Victoria even visited 41 times.
In this episode, we tell the story of The Great Exhibition, and the mark it left on Britain, and the world.
The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 infected 1/3 of the world's population, and it's estimated that it killed up to 100 million people.
In today's episode we take a look at what really happened, how it spread so quickly, and what countries did to contain it.
In the early hours of November 5th, 1605, a man was found in a cellar under The Houses of Parliament. He was moments away from blowing everything up, killing the King, and changing the course of British history forever.
Today we tell the story of Guy Fawkes, and how we went from religious terrorist to anti-establishment icon.
The Enigma machine, used by the Nazis in World War II, had 158,962,555,217,826,360,000 possible combinations, and was thought by many to be impossible to crack.
In this episode we tell the story of the man who cracked the code, and his tragic end.
In 1963 a criminal gang managed to stop a Royal Mail train, steal £2 million pounds in cash (£55 million in today's money), and escape.
It took them just 15 minutes.
Today we tell the story of this infamous robbery, and the hunt to find the men who did it.
300 years ago, London experienced a gin craze of epic scale, with the average Londoner drinking 10 times the amount of gin that the world's biggest gin drinking country does now.
Today, it's time to learn about how gin almost destroyed London.
"We are here not because we are law-breakers, we are here in our efforts to become law-makers"
Hunger strikes, chaining yourself to railings, and being killed by the King's horse.
It's time to tell the story of The Suffragette movement in Britain, and how women got the right to vote.
His 36-year rule saw England break ties with the Catholic church and two of his six wives lose their heads.
Today we're taking a look at Henry VIII of England, and his unfortunate wives.
In 1888 a serial killer terrorised the streets of London's East End, brutally murdering women.
Over 2,000 people were questioned, but the killer's true identity has never been revealed.
Today it's time to tell the story of Jack The Ripper.
The media might portray it as just a failed state run by a mad dictator, but today we'll find out that it might be just a little bit more complicated than things seem.
It was called "Britain's biggest contribution to gastronomy" by the Wall Street Journal.
Today, in part 4 of our mini-series on British food, we're looking at the sandwich, the story behind it, why it is so important for people in Britain, and how it reached such an iconic status.
The English Breakfast is a truly British institution, and its history goes back 700 years.
In today's episode we go into the story behind the meal, and reveal how it went from favourite of lords and ladies to the way the working classes started the day.
It's a British classic, but how much do you really know about it?
Today we are diving into the fascinating history of fish and chips, and we'll discover that it might be not quite so British as you might think.
Part 1 of our 4-part mini-series on British food. First up it's the oyster.
It's not something that people normally associate with British food, but this little creature was hugely important in British cuisine.
In this podcast we'll learn about how it went from the choice of emperors to food of the poor, hear about how one man (supposedly) ate 1,200 in a single sitting, about a time when the average Londoner used to eat 1 oyster a day, and when they used to be given away for free outside pubs.
Have you ever wondered why January 1st is the start of the new year?
In today's episode we'll discuss the history of new year, talk about the longest year ever (it had 445 days), and you'll find out why new year is celebrated on January 1st, and not on any of the other 364 days of the year.
Today we're going to talk about a sea that disappeared, and find out what happens when a country tries to start a hub for cotton farming in the middle of a desert.
Spoiler alert: it doesn't go well.
From a Korean yoga expert to a wooden pistol, we take a look at the most ingenious ways in which people have escaped their captors.