The Reunion

Sue Macgregor plays host to a reunion of a group of people who have experienced some sort of unifying force or moment in history, and have not gathered together since.

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Episodes

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01011978 The World's First Test-tube Baby2003072720030801

It's 25 years since the birth of Louise Brown, the world's first test-tube baby, and in the first of this new series, Sue Macgregor reunites the ground-breaking team that made it possible.

They remember the years of research that led to this medical milestone, the euphoria of the day itself and consider the developments in IVF that have followed on from their work.

01021981 Chariots Of Fire2003080320030808

This time, Sue gathers together the creative team that made Chariots Of Fire.

In the summer of 1981, the landmark British film Chariots Of Fire was released across the country and went on to win an astonishing four Oscars against tough competition.

It made stars of the then unknown actors who played the athletes: Ian Charleson, Ben Cross and Nigel Havers and established David Puttnam as one of Britain's leading producers.

It was also the directorial debut of Hugh Hudson and gave Colin Welland an Oscar for Best original screenplay.

Ian Charleson died of HIV/AIDS in 1990 but in The Reunion, Sue Macgregor brings together the key players from this unique creative team and hears about how they produced a British cinema classic.

01031969 Concorde2003081020030815

In the spring of 1969, a new era in air travel was about to dawn as Concorde, the world's first supersonic passenger aircraft, took to the air on its maiden flight.

Sue Macgregor reunites Concorde co-pilot John Cochrane and flight test engineer John Allen; with the BBC Commentator Raymond Baxter who described the flight; the then Minister of Aviation Tony Benn; and the anti-Concorde campaigner Mary Goldring.

01041978 Ayatollah Khomeini2003081720030822

By the end of 1978, the Shah of Iran was on the verge of being overthrown by the Muslim Cleric Ayatollah Khomeini, and the court of the old regime was scattering.

Sue Macgregor reunites five senior Iranian figures from the rule of the Shah to talk about the dramatic events of the revolution, and their life in exile.

01051951 Festival Of Britain2003082420030829

In 1951, The Festival Of Britain caught the mood of post-war optimism and launched the careers of a number of young designers and architects who were involved in the creation of the various pavilions and exhibits.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the surviving members of the design team to talk about the new dawn in design and reflect on the impact that The Festival Of Britain had on them.

01061979 Thatchers Victory Team2003083120030905

In 1979, the General Election campaign saw the trusted Jim Callaghan pitted against the then unknown Margaret Thatcher.

In a unique gathering, Sue Macgregor brings together the campaigning team that steered her to victory and lets them reflect on their achievements and the doubts they had about the chances of a woman becoming Prime Minister.

01071968 Dagenham Women Strikers2003090720030912

In the summer of 1968 a small group of women at the Ford factory in Dagenham went on strike.

They were protesting about the re-grading of their jobs - they felt they'd been treated unfairly compared with the men working in the plant.

The women worked as sewing machinists - making seats for the thousands of cars which were produced there.

They believed that because they were women, their work wasn't valued, and they were determined to get equality.

Within weeks they'd come close to stopping production at all Ford's UK plants.

The women's protest was soon taken up as a battle for equal pay and the strike was only ended when another woman - the Employment Secretary, Barbara Castle invited the machinists to take tea in her office and talk over their problems.

The women didn't know it, but they were walking into the history books - their protest led directly to the passing of the Equal Pay Act.

In this week's edition of The Reunion, Sue Macgregor reunites three of those women together with their union convenor and a member of the Ford management team which was trying to end the strike.

0108 LAST1985 Sinking The Rainbow Warrior2003091420030919

The crew of 'Rainbow Warrior', Greenpeace's flagship campaigning vessel, was responsible for heightening awareness of environmental issues such as whaling and nuclear testing at sea throughout the 1980's.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the key figures in the Rainbow Warrior story as they recall the successful campaigns, as well as the night in 1985 when the ship was sabotaged and sunk by French secret service agents.

02011957 H Bomb Testing2004080820040813

In 1957, Britain conducted its first controversial Hydrogen bomb tests on the remote Christmas Island in the Pacific.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of those who were involved, together with the man who pressed the button to release the first megaton bomb.

02021992 Women Priests2004081520040820

On 11th November 1992, the Church of England took the historic decision to allow women to be ordained as priests.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the leading campaigners involved, together with the Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe who opposed women's ordination and left the Church of England on the very same day.

02031974 The Liverpool Everyman2004082220040827

In 1974 The Liverpool Everyman assembled a group of young actors and writers who would go on to become household names.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the members of that ground-breaking team including Barbara Dixon, Willy Russell and Matthew Kelly

02041982 Mary Rose2004082920040903

When Henry VIII's sunken battleship Mary Rose was brought up from the sea bed in 1982, it was a triumphant moment for a dedicated team of marine archaeologists, divers and engineers.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the members of that team including actor and longbow expert Robert Hardy and Project Director Margaret Rule.

02051975 Referendum2004090520040910

In the Spring of 1975, Prime Minister Harold Wilson called for Britain's first ever referendum on the subject of our membership of the European Community.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the leading campaigners on both sides of the vote.

0206 LASTTerence Higgins Trust2004091220040917

Sue Macgregor reunites the team behind the founding of the Terence Higgins Trust.

02991960 Super Models2004122620041231

They defined the style and epitomised the look of the decade.

Sue Macgregor plays host to a gathering of the original 1960's super models.

0301Moscow Olympics2005072420050729

Sue Macgregor reunites members of the British Olympic team who took part in the controversial Moscow games of 1980.

Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Duncan Goodhew, Joslyn Hoyte-Smith, Frank Dick, Dick Shepherd and Colin Moynihan recall the government pressure they received to withdraw from the competition, the personal dilemmas of travelling there, and ultimately the triumph of a record-breaking British medals haul.

0302Not The Nine O'clock News2005073120050805
20051225 (R4)

Sue Macgregor reunites members of the founding team of Not The Nine O'Clock News, one of the most successful comedy series of the 1980s.

John Lloyd, Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith, Chris Langham and Pamela Stephenson recall their initial meetings, the rehearsals, endless re-writes and the controversial, offbeat comedy sketches that emerged from their improvisations.

0303Abortion Act2005080720050812

On the 12th May 1966, the 28 year old Liberal Member of Parliament for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, David Steel, drew third place in the ballot in the House of Commons for private members' bills.

Two weeks later he agreed to sponsor an Abortion Reform Bill - it was the seventh attempt at law reform in Britain since 1952.

On the 15th June the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill was published.

It was a major piece of legislation, and on the whole a popular one (opinion polls were showing a two thirds majority in favour of termination in some cases) and many women felt it was a liberating move.

But there were passionately held views against legalising abortion too - not least from Roman Catholics.

The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child was formed at the beginning of the following year, 15 months before the Bill became law in 1968.

Any change in the law was a subject on which almost everyone had an opinion.

For some, it was a life-changing affair.

With Sue Macgregor, reunited to discuss the way Abortion Law was changed in Britain in 1968 are members of the Abortion Law Reform Association of the time: Diane Munday, Alastair Service and Madeleine Simms, and David, now Lord Steel, and one of its chief opponents, the former Conservative MP Jill, now Baroness Knight.

03042005081420050819

Sue Macgregor reunites people who were interned by the Japanese in the Far East during the Second World War.

To mark the 60th anniversary of VJ day, we hear from five people who spent much of the Second World War in internment camps in the Far East.

0305Today2005082120050826

Sue Macgregor reunites the team assembled by publisher Eddie Shah to launch Britain's first colour newspaper Today in 1985.

03062005082820050902

Sue Macgregor goes on location to Sarajevo to reunite some of the civilians who became prisoners in their own city from 1992 to 1995 during the longest siege in the history of modern warfare.

The siege of Sarajevo transformed a multi-ethnic city of peace into a bloody hell.

We hear the extraordinary stories of five civilians who survived the siege through a mixture of good fortune, courage and defiance.

03072005090420050909

Sue Macgregor reunites the environmental campaigners involved in the battle to save Twyford Down, a chalkland meadow bisected by the M3 motorway in Hampshire.

In 1992 after a 20 years struggle with the Department of Transport, protest spilled over into direct action.

What followed next was to define the language of the anti-roads movement which grabbed the headlines between 1993 -1997, as a broad coalition of local, national and international protesters concerned by the government's evaluation of environmental issues came together to try to stop the bulldozers moving in.

Included in this Reunion is ex- local councillor Barbra Bryant, Dr Chris Gillham a prominent member of the Friends of Twyford Down, veteran roads protester Rebecca Lush, the founder of Earth First! UK Jason Torrence, and Paul Kingsnorth author of One No Many Yeses.

0308 LAST2005091120050916

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the founders and leading performers from the Edinburgh Fringe.

04011991 Gulf War2006040220060405

Sue Macgregor reunites key figures involved in the 1991 Gulf War conflict.

Generals Norman Schwarzkopf, Paddy Hine and Patrick Cordingley are joined by then Defence Minister Tom King and the BBC's John Simpson

0402Serious Fraud Office2006040920060412

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the pioneering investigators from the Serious Fraud Office.

With forensic accountant Ian Trumper, policeman Andy Noad and lawyers Robert Wardle, Rosalind Wright and Chris Dickson - the team behind the prosecution of Britain's largest fraudsters.

0403The Family2006041620060419

The makers of the ground-breaking documentary series The Family in 1974 are reunited with their subjects, members of the Wilkins family.

0405 LAST2006043020060503

Sue Macgregor gathers together some of the main organisers, makers and creators behind the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles in 1981.

Sir Michael Shea was the Queen's Press Secretary at the time; Right Reverend Alan Webster was the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral; Elizabeth Emanuel was the designer behind the Princess' dress and Arthur Edwards was the Royal photographer for the Sun newspaper.

Also contributing, are Lieutenant Colonel Sir John Johnston, Comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain's Office and Sir David Willcocks, the musical director of the wedding.

Also contributing will be Lieutenant Colonel Sir John Johnston, Comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain's Office and Sir David Willcocks, the musical director of the wedding.

0501Rail Privatisation2006090320060908

Sue Macgregor reunites the senior decision-makers involved in Britain's rail privatisation in the 1990s.

Contributors include Chief Executive and Chairman of British Rail, John Welsby; John Major's Transport Secretary John (now Lord) MacGregor; Sir Patrick Brown, former Permanent Secretary at the Department of Transport, the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising Roger Salmon and Rail Expert and journalist Roger Ford.

0502Robben Island2006091020060915

Sue Macgregor goes to Johannesburg to reunite a group of former political prisoners who were incarcerated on Robben Island when Nelson Mandela was there throughout the 1960s and 70s.

Robben Island was a world of chains and torture during South Africa's darkest apartheid years.

But it also became a place where many of the country's future leaders learnt the skills which would later bring them to power.

We hear the extraordinary stories of five former prisoners.

05032006091720060922

TV-am was Britain's first ever commercial breakfast station, launched in a fanfare of publicity and hosted by a stellar cast of presenters.

Its subsequent boardroom struggles were played out in the press and it was on the verge of collapse - the electricity board came round to switch off the power whilst the programme was still broadcasting.

But by the time it lost its licence, TV-am was one of the most successful companies of its kind.

Key members of the launch team are reunited to remember that turbulent period: former US Ambassador and TV-am Chairman Peter Jay; Sir David Frost, one of the Famous Five presenters; shareholder Jonathan Aitken; Nick Owen, who began on the sports desk before moving over to become the channel's face of the 80s; and Greg Dyke, the man credited with turning the station around.

0504 LAST2006092420060929

Sue Macgregor brings together survivors and relatives of those involved in the Marchioness riverboat disaster.

Iain Philpott, Jonathan Phang and Magda Allani were on the boat, while Eileen Dallaglio, Margaret Lockwood Croft and Judy Wellington lost children in what was the worst disaster on the Thames for over 100 years.

0602Eastenders2007041520070420

This programme features original members of the cast and crew of EastEnders.

0603Milton Keynes2007042220070427

This programme features architects, planners, community workers and residents who created the new town of Milton Keynes.

06041957 - British Antarctic Survey2007042920070504
20140629 (BBC7)
20140630 (BBC7)

This edition features the British Antarctic Survey scientists who established the Halley Bay station 50 years ago to conduct scientific research including measuring ozone in the stratosphere.

Little did they then know that their work was to have a worldwide impact in 1985 with the discovery of a hole in the ozone layer.

Sue MacGregor reunites the British scientists who discovered the hole in the ozone layer.

Sue MacGregor reunites the British scientists who discovered the hole in the ozone layer in the mid-1980s. From April 2007.

0605 LAST1984 Grand Hotel Bombing2007050620070511

This edition features both perpetrators and victims of the IRA bomb which exploded in Brighton's Grand Hotel during the Conservative Party Conference on 12 October 1984, killing five and injuring many more.

They explain how their lives were changed forever by one of the most shocking terrorist attacks on mainland Britain and how some are building a sense of reconciliation after 23 years.

07012007082620070831

This programme recalls the transformation of the Royal Opera House in the 1990s and brings together some of the people involved with it.

07022007090220070907

This programme features five of the key campaigners who fought to bring about the 1976 Race Relations Act: Anthony Lester, Dipak Nandy, Jocelyn Barrow, Usha Prashar and Herman Ouseley.

07032007090920070914

This programme features British veterans of the Korean War and finds out just how close we all came to a Third World War between 1950 and 1953.

0704Nme Writers2007091620070921
20140518 (BBC7)
20140519 (BBC7)

This programme features former staff from the New Musical Express, who recall the heady days of the late 1970s when the magazine spearheaded a new style of writing consisting of pithy, intelligent commentary about life, ideas, pop and youth culture.

Sue MacGregor reunites writers from the magazine New Musical Express.

Sue MacGregor presents the series which reunites a group of people intimately involved in a moment of modern history.

0705 LAST2007092320070928

She meets a group of former sannyasins of the Bhagwan Rajneesh to reflect on the rise and fall of an extraordinary cult.

0801* *2008040620080411

She gathers together five Bletchley Park code-breakers recruited during World War II to decrypt German messages created by the complex Enigma machine.

Their success, on an unprecedented scale and against enormous odds, is said to have shortened the war by two years, but ther nature of their work remained a secret for more than three decades.

08032008042020080425

She gathers together a group of artists, writers and editors who have created and drawn a vast array of cartoon strip characters for popular children's comics such as The Beano and The Dandy for more than half a century at Scottish publishers DC Thomson.

0804*2008042720080502

Rioters and staff come face to face to remember the 25 days of the Strangeways Prison riots of 1990.

08SPECIALWithnail And I2008050420080509

Sue Macgregor presents the series which reunites a group of people intimately involved in a moment of modern history.

In a special edition of the programme, recorded in front of an audience at the BFI Southbank, she gathers together the cast and director of the 1987 cult movie Withnail and I.

Joining her onstage are Richard E Grant, Paul Mcgann, Ralph Brown and writer/director Bruce Robinson.

There is also an extended interview with Richard Griffiths

0901*2008082420080829

She gathers together five people who were involved in a truly epic expedition, the first ever circumnavigation of the globe via the North and South Poles.

0902The Navy Lark2008083120080905
20090329 (BBC7)
20090330 (BBC7)
20090914 (BBC7)
20090915 (BBC7)

She brings together some of the original team behind The Navy Lark, one of the most popular and longest-running radio sitcoms.

Participants include June Whitfield, Leslie Phillips, George Evans, Heather Chesen and Tenniel Evans.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the crew of 'HMS Troutbridge', including Leslie Phillips.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the crew of 'HMS Troutbridge', including Leslie Phillips, June Whitfield and Tenniel Evans.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the comic crew of 'HMS Troutbridge'.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of the comic crew of 'HMS Troutbridge', including Leslie Phillips, June Whitfield and Tenniel Evans.

09042008091420080919

She gathers together five people who were involved in the fire which swept through Windsor Castle on 20 November 1992.

Nine of the finest state apartments, the medieval Great Kitchen and more than a hundred further rooms were destroyed.

She hears the dramatic story of the fire and explores the background to the remarkable restoration which followed.

0905 LAST2008092120080926

She brings together some of the key players involved in the construction of the Channel Tunnel.

1001National Theatre2009040520090410

She brings together some of the original members of the National Theatre to remember its birth in 1963 under artistic director Laurence Olivier.

Her guests are Sir Michael Gambon, Sir Derek Jacobi, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Joan Plowright and Bill Gaskill.

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

10022009041220090417

Sue Macgregor brings together a group of people who were involved in the Hillsborough stadium disaster of 1989, which resulted in the deaths of 96 Liverpool FC fans.

1003Brit Art2009041920090424
20140817 (BBC7)
20140818 (BBC7)

Sue Macgregor brings together some of the young artists who emerged in the 1990s to create the Brit Art movement - Tracey Emin, Gavin Turk, Abigail Lane, Mat Collishaw and Gregor Muir.

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue Macgregor brings together some of those involved in the 1990s Brit Art movement.

10042009042620090501

Sue Macgregor brings together a group of people to tell the story of the 1960s 'wonder drug' Thalidomide, which caused so much damage and distress.

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

1005 LAST*2009050320090508

Beirut hostages John Mccarthy, Brian Keenan and Terry Waite discuss their shared experiences and are joined by campaigner Jill Morrell, who was the girlfriend of John Mccarthy at the time.

11011977 Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket2009082320090828

Sue reunites some of those involved in the great cricket split caused by the launch of World Series Cricket by Australian business tycoon Kerry Packer in 1977.

She is joined by former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, Australian fast bowler Jeff Thomson, Tony Greig, who was England captain at the time, Mike Denness, team manager for Packer's World Series, and the commentator and writer Christopher Martin-jenkins, who reported the story as it broke.

11021985 Live Aid2009083020090904

In Ethiopia, close to eight million people became famine victims during the drought of 1984, and over one million died.

The international relief effort that followed was the largest ever mounted, culminating in the Live Aid concert in 1985.

Reporter Michael Buerk, nurse Claire Bertschinger, former head of Oxfam Hugh Goyder, Major Dawit Wolde Giorgis of the Ethiopian relief effort and Sir Brian Barder, Ambassador to Ethiopia at the time, join Sue to recall the events.

11031980 Iranian Embassy Siege2009090620090911

Sue reunites those caught up in the siege at the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980, which ended with a dramatic storming of the building by SAS commandos.

With contributions from hostages Sim Harris and Mustapha Karkouti, police negotiator Max Vernon, BBC reporter Kate Adie and Robin Horsfall of the SAS.

11041990 Nelson Mandela Release2009091320090918

Sue gathers together the core negotiators and key campaigners involved in the secret talks which ultimately led to the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990 and the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

She is joined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who led the Free Mandela Campaign throughout the 1980s; Dr Niel Barnard, who was the head of South Africa's National Intelligence Service and who had dozens of clandestine meetings with Mandela; Professor Willie Esterhuyse, an Afrikaner academic who liaised between the government and the ANC; Aziz Pahad, who was a core member of the ANC and led many of its delegations; former President Thabo Mbeki, who was a lead negotiator for the ANC; and journalist and political commentator Allister Sparks, who chronicled the negotiations in a revealing book.

Former President FW de Klerk also contributes to the programme, describing the surprise that he and other cabinet figures felt when they learnt of the years of secret meetings.

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

1105 LASTStonewall2009092020090925

Sue Macgregor presents the series which reunites a group of people intimately involved in a moment of modern history.

Sue brings together the men and women who founded the gay rights campaign group, Stonewall.

She is joined by Sir Ian Mckellen, Matthew Parris, Lisa Power, Michael Cashman and Olivette Cole-Wilson.

In 1989 a small group joined forces in a campaign against a law now known as Section 28.

This law banned councils from 'promoting homosexuality' or 'promoting the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship'.

The gay rights scene at the time was radical and activist and there were no campaign groups engaging both gay men and lesbians together.

Stonewall aimed to create a professional lobbying group that would fight against the discrimination of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals.

Dubbed Stonewall to signal doggedness and to commemorate the New York riots in which gay protestors had fought back against police brutality two decades before, it called for full legal rights, which still seemed a loony-left pipe dream.

Stonewall's moderate tone attracted criticism from more radical veterans of the gay rights movement, but also lent its advocates greater media respectability and a hearing from government ministers.

Since its inception, Stonewall has led the way with an impressive number of reforms, pressing ministers and taking test cases to court.

These reforms include the repeal of Section 28, equalising the age of consent, permitting civil partnerships and overturning the ban on gays in the military.

Another legacy has been to allow gay and lesbian politicians into the mainstream - not just demanding equal rights, but as representatives of the wider community.

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

The men and women who founded the gay rights campaign group, Stonewall.

1201First London Marathon2010040420100409

In the first programme of the BBC Radio 4 spring series of The Reunion, Sue Macgregor revisits 1981 and the first running of the London Marathon.

Before the London Marathon, long-distance running in Britain was the exclusive domain of elite athletes.

Two former British Olympic athletes Chris Brasher and John Disley were inspired by the New York Marathon, and the jogging boom of the 1970's, and decided to set about organizing a marathon through the streets of London.

With almost seven thousand runners participating in the first race, marathon running was suddenly on the map.

Sue is joined around the table by: David Bedford, current Race Director and former 10,000 metre world record holder; John Disley, an original founder and bronze medal Olympic steeplechase winner; John Bryant, journalist and marathon historian; Hugh Jones, course measurer and the first British man to win the London Marathon in 1982; and Veronique Marot, the second British woman to win, setting a British women's record in 1989.

Over 36,000 participants are confirmed for 2010.

Though not the original intention of the founders, the London Marathon went on to become the largest one-day fundraising event in the world.

By 2010, the marathon will have raised over a half a billion pounds for charity.

Today, the London Marathon is a distinct mixture of elite competition and street carnival, an event that the capital is exceedingly proud of.

The producer is Colin McNulty, and this is a Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue Macgregor reunites five people who participated in the first London Marathon in 1981.

1202Brideshead Revisited2010041120100416
20140525 (BBC7)
20140526 (BBC7)

In this episode of The Reunion, Sue Macgregor brings together the cast, the producer and the director of the iconic TV drama Brideshead Revisited.

Brideshead became one of the most popular TV shows ever made when it first aired on ITV in the autumn of 1981.

It made household names of its stars Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews and starred two of the greatest actors of the twentieth century, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud.

Based on the best-selling novel by Evelyn Waugh and adapted by John Mortimer initially and then also Derek Granger, it told a poignant story of forbidden love and religious faith set prior to the Second World War.

The size and scale of the series was unprecedented.

To make eleven fifty minute episodes, shot entirely on film and all on location was a huge undertaking.

And no expense was spared with glamorous costumes, vintage cars and exotic locations including Venice, Malta and the QE2.

It was one of the most expensive ITV serials ever made and set the benchmark for others to follow, notably Jewel in the Crown in 1985.

Sue is joined around the table by: Jeremy Irons, who played the narrator of the story Charles Ryder; Anthony Andrews, who was Sebastian Flyte; Claire Bloom, who played Sebastian's mother Lady Marchmain; the series' director Charles Sturridge; Derek Granger the producer; and Diana Quick who was Lady Julia Flyte, Sebastian's sister.

A WHISTLEDOWN Production for BBC Radio 4.

The producers are Sarah Cuddon and David Prest.

Sue Macgregor reunites the creative team behind TV drama Brideshead Revisited.

Brideshead became one of the most popular TV shows ever made when it first aired on ITV in the autumn of 1981. It made household names of its stars Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews and starred two of the greatest actors of the twentieth century, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud.

Based on the best-selling novel by Evelyn Waugh and adapted by John Mortimer initially and then also Derek Granger, it told a poignant story of forbidden love and religious faith set prior to the Second World War. The size and scale of the series was unprecedented. To make eleven fifty minute episodes, shot entirely on film and all on location was a huge undertaking. And no expense was spared with glamorous costumes, vintage cars and exotic locations including Venice, Malta and the QE2. It was one of the most expensive ITV serials ever made and set the benchmark for others to follow, notably Jewel in the Crown in 1985.

A WHISTLEDOWN Production for BBC Radio 4. The producers are Sarah Cuddon and David Prest.

1203The Maze Prison2010041820100423

Sue Macgregor is in Belfast to meet prisoners, staff and negotiators who were involved in the Maze Prison hunger strikes of the early 1980s.

From its earliest days, the Maze Prison was like no other penal institution.

Its prisoners, mainly locked up for involvement in 'The Troubles', saw themselves as prisoners of war rather than criminal offenders, and were given a lot of freedom to run their own lives.

But a change in government policy sought to address that.

The paramilitaries were to be treated like 'ordinary decent criminals', wearing prison uniform and conforming to prison rules.

The prisoners and their supporters were outraged, launching a campaign that resulted in ten men starving themselves to death.

Many more were to die in riots and revenge attacks outside the prison.

Two former Republican prisoners who survived the hunger strikes, Raymond McCartney and Pat Sheehan, join Loyalist prisoner Billy McQuiston and prison officer Des Waterworth to recall the fight for political status.

Also joining Sue round the table is Father Oliver Crilly, who tried to negotiate an end to the protest and whose two cousins died in it, and journalist Chris Ryder.

The hunger strikes are largely regarded as a major turning point in Northern Ireland's political history.

The first man to die, Bobby Sands, attracted worldwide attention when he was elected to Westminster from his prison hospital bed.

But the wounds of the battle are still raw today with questions remaining over whether more deaths could have been avoided.

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

The producer is Deborah Dudgeon.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of those involved in the Maze Prison hunger strikes.

1204Dunblane2010042520100430

In the fourth programme of the BBC Radio 4 spring series of The Reunion, Sue McGregor revisits the Dunblane Primary School shootings in 1996.

On the morning of March 13, Thomas Hamilton, armed with four handguns and 700 rounds of ammunition, killed 16 school children and their teacher and wounded many more in an attack that lasted three minutes, before finally turning the gun on himself.

Dunblane's close-knit community was shattered in an instant and immediately thrust into the media spotlight.

Messages of support flooded in from all over the world.

The shootings sparked a massive call for tighter gun controls.

The Snowdrop Campaign, set up by Dunblane residents, was successful in achieving a change in the law in 1997, making it illegal to buy or possess handguns.

Sue is joined around the table by school teacher Eileen Harrild, who was Hamilton's first target in the school gymnasium, but despite being shot three times survived the attack; bereaved parents Mick North and Pam Ross, whose respective five-year-old daughters Sophie and Joanna were killed; social worker Marie Sinclair, who counselled some of the grieving parents, and newspaper columnist Melanie Reid, who wrote about Dunblane and its consequences and accompanied gun control campaigners on their protests.

The producers are Chris Green and David Prest.

This is a Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue McGregor reunites people affected by the Dunblane school shootings in 1996.

In the fourth programme of the BBC Radio 4 spring series of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor revisits the Dunblane Primary School shootings in 1996.

Dunblane's community was shattered in an instant and immediately thrust into the media spotlight. Messages of support flooded in from all over the world.

The shootings sparked a massive call for tighter gun controls. The Snowdrop Campaign, set up by Dunblane residents, was successful in achieving a change in the law in 1997, making it illegal to buy or possess handguns.

Sue is joined around the table by school teacher Eileen Harrild, who was Hamilton's first target in the school gymnasium, but despite being shot four times survived the attack; bereaved parents Mick North and Pam Ross, whose respective five-year-old daughters Sophie and Joanna were killed; social worker Marie Sinclair, who counselled some of the grieving parents, and Sunday Times writer Jenny Shields, who wrote about Dunblane and its consequences and accompanied gun control campaigners on their protests.

Producers: Chris Green and David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

1205 LASTTonight Programme2010050220100507

On the 18th February 1957 the BBC broadcast the first programme of a series that was destined to run to over a thousand episodes, although many people involved in making the programme were far from convinced that they would be able to pull off even the pilot successfully.

Tonight was the first time that the BBC had tried to broadcast a live current affairs programme that ran five nights a week, but it turned out to be an important milestone in the BBC's evolution, marking a shift from an Auntie Knows Best" attitude to being a voice for the viewer.

An incredible array of talent went through Tonight's offices, and Sue is joined by five of its leading lights.

Alasdair Milne was, with Donald Baverstock, one of the programme's original executive producers and went on become Director General of the BBC.

Antony Jay was in charge of the ground-breaking film unit and went on to write Yes Minister.

Cynthia Kee was in charge of the cultural side of the programme, booking famous names such as Louis Armstrong and Brigitte Bardot.

Jack Gold worked in the editing department before branching out to become a successful film director, responsible for The Naked Civil Servant, Aces High and The Medusa Touch, and Julian Pettifer was one of the programme's roving reporters.

There are also contributions from other key players: presenter Cliff Michelmore, reporter Alan Whicker and singer Cy Grant.

The producers are James Crawford and David Prest.

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue Macgregor reunites the team behind the pioneering BBC Tonight programme.

".

1301The Dome2010082220100827
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In this first episode in a new series of The Reunion, Sue Macgregor gathers together the key people responsible for building, co-ordinating and realising the creative concepts that became The Millennium Dome at Greenwich.

After much discussion and heated argument it was decided to build a dome on the sight of a disused gasworks on the Greenwich peninsula in East London which would stage a grand millennium extravaganza, and house a year long exhibition to rival the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Following Labour's landslide election victory in May 1997, the Prime Minister Tony Blair was determined to change the way Britain saw itself and he seized on the idea, mooted under the outgoing Tory government, to have a major event to celebrate the forthcoming new millennium.

From the very start, it was a hugely controversial decision and became a project that was rife with argument, sackings and constant flack from the press.

The person who took the brunt of the criticism was Chief Executive Jennie Page, who was eventually sacked shortly after the opening night.

This is the first time she has spoken publicly about her personal millennium experience.

Sue also hears some hitherto unreported and little known stories of both the pain and the excitement of life under the Dome.

Sue is joined by: Jennie Page, the Chief Executive;

Mike Davies, the flamboyant architect who designed the Dome structure;

Lord Charles Falconer, the Minister for the Dome who succeeded Peter Mandelson

and two of the zone designers, Eva Jiricna of the Spirit Zone, and Peter Higgins who created the Play Zone.

Producers: Dilly Barlow and David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue Macgregor reunites the key players behind the creation of The Millennium Dome.

Sue Macgregor gathers together the key people responsible for building, co-ordinating and realising the creative concepts that became The Millennium Dome at Greenwich.

Following Labour's landslide election victory in May 1997, the Prime Minister Tony Blair was determined to change the way Britain saw itself and he seized upon the idea - mooted under the outgoing Tory government - to have a major event to celebrate the forthcoming new millennium.

After much discussion and heated argument it was decided to build a dome on the site of a disused gasworks on East London's Greenwich peninsular.

It would stage a grand millennium extravaganza and house a year-long exhibition to rival the 1951 Festival of Britain.

It was a hugely controversial decision from the very start, and became a project rife with argument, sackings and constant flack from the press.

This is the first time she has spoken publically about her personal millennium experience.

Sue is joined by:

Jennie Page, the Dome's former Chief Executive.

Eva Jiricna, designer of the Dome's 'Spirit Zone'.

Peter Higgins, who created the 'Play Zone'.

Producer: Dilly Barlow.

After much discussion and heated argument it was decided to build a dome on the site of a disused gasworks on East London's Greenwich peninsular. It would stage a grand millennium extravaganza and house a year-long exhibition to rival the 1951 Festival of Britain.

The person who took the brunt of the criticism was Chief Executive Jennie Page, who was eventually sacked - shortly after the opening night. This is the first time she has spoken publically about her personal millennium experience.

1302Hurricane Katrina2010082920100903

In this special edition of The Reunion, Sue Macgregor travels to New Orleans to gather together five Hurricane Katrina survivors who weathered the storm - five years after the hurricane hit.

One of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the USA, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on 29th August 2005.

Rupturing the levees around the city, it submerged eighty percent of New Orleans in water.

Thousands of people had been unable to evacuate or had chosen not to leave their homes.

Some of the streets sat in up to ten feet of stagnant water, driving residents into their attics, scrabbling for higher ground in a city which sits below sea level.

Many took refuge inside the city's Superdome, but without adequate supplies or sanitation, conditions inside the overheated, overcrowded stadium became increasingly intolerable.

Law and order across the city was breaking down, with stories of rapes, violence and widespread looting rapidly circulating.

Sue is joined around the table by: the leader of Joint Task Force Katrina, General Honore; the manager of the Superdome, Doug Thornton; photojournalist, Ted Jackson; Pastor Willie Walker and Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc.

With additional contributions from the musician Dr John.

Producer: Ellie McDowall

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue Macgregor reunites five survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

1303Miss World 19702010090520100910
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In 1970, the Miss World held at the Royal Albert Hall in London was disrupted by feminists protesting that the competition was a cattle market.

Bob Hope, presenting the event, stood on a stage pelted with tomatoes and flour bombs.

Bouncers were sprayed with blue ink.

The women disrupting the competition shouted: 'we're not beautiful, we're not ugly, we're angry.'

Bob Hope's less than enlightened verdict on the events was that anyone who might disrupt Miss World 'must be on some kind of dope'.

But the Women's Liberation Movement proved otherwise.

The Women's Liberation Movement's protests at the Miss World contest were not solely aimed at rejecting the event itself though, but more at the implications of the wider exploitation of women in society.

Economically and socially, women were subject to continual discrimination and the epitome of such prejudice was highlighted by this public celebration of female beauty.

The programme looks at the event through the eyes of the participants who were involved both on and off stage.

It examines their motives for participating in the protest and how those organising the event and taking part as contestants felt about the contest.

Sue is joined by the former Miss World of 1970; Jennifer Hosten, one of the key organisers; Peter Jolley and protestors Sally Alexander and Jo Robinson.

Producer: Christina Captieux

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites those involved in the controversial Miss World 1970 beauty contest.

In 1970, the Miss World held at the Royal Albert Hall in London was disrupted by feminists protesting that the competition was a cattle market. Bob Hope, presenting the event, stood on a stage pelted with tomatoes and flour bombs. Bouncers were sprayed with blue ink. The women disrupting the competition shouted: 'we're not beautiful, we're not ugly, we're angry.'

Bob Hope's less than enlightened verdict on the events was that anyone who might disrupt Miss World 'must be on some kind of dope'. But the Women's Liberation Movement proved otherwise.

The Women's Liberation Movement's protests at the Miss World contest were not solely aimed at rejecting the event itself though, but more at the implications of the wider exploitation of women in society. Economically and socially, women were subject to continual discrimination and the epitome of such prejudice was highlighted by this public celebration of female beauty.

The programme looks at the event through the eyes of the participants who were involved both on and off stage. It examines their motives for participating in the protest and how those organising the event and taking part as contestants felt about the contest. Sue is joined by the former Miss World of 1970; Jennifer Hosten, one of the key organisers; Peter Jolley and protestors Sally Alexander and Jo Robinson.

1304Kindertransport20100912

Sue MacGregor gathers together some of the Jewish children who were brought to safety in England by the Kindertransport movement of the 1930s.

From the 2nd December 1938 until war broke out nine months later, almost ten thousand Jewish children were rescued from Nazi persecution from Germany and the occupied territories of Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

The operation became known as the Kindertransport movement.

Following the Kristallnacht attack on Jews in Germany, the British government decided to offer refuge to a limited number of Jewish children.

They were sent without their parents by train and boat to England.

They were only allowed to take a small suitcase and ten reich marks.

When they arrived many were either placed in temporary hostels or in foster families.

Many found kind homes, some were exploited as easy domestic help and others were neglected.

To start with the children had occasional written contact with parents through the International Red Cross.

But as WWII progressed, the communication died out.

Most of them never saw their parents again.

A small percentage were reunited with parents who had either spent the war in hiding or survived the Nazi camps but it was invariably impossible to re-establish family relationships.

In 1989, fifty years after the last Kindertransport train left mainland Europe, hundreds of former Kindertransport children gathered in London to remember the event.

Today many have united to form the Kindertransport Association.

But others still prefer to hold their past at a distance.

Sue is joined around the table by Lord Dubs, Hella Pick, Ruth Humphries, Sir Erich Reich and Ruth Barnett.

Producer: Sarah Cuddon

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

1305 LASTPlay School2010091920100924
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In the final programme of the latest BBC Radio 4 series of The Reunion, Sue Macgregor reunites people involved with classic children's TV programme Play School, which ran from 1964 to 1988.

Devised by Joy Whitby, former producer of the Listen with Mother slot on BBC Radio, the programme was a direct response to concerns about the perceived poor standard of British pre-school education.

Play School was ground-breaking in more ways than one as it accidentally became the first programme to be shown on BBC 2 after a power cut halted the opening night's programming.

Its enthusiastic presenters came from diverse backgrounds and became household names with the iconic three shaped windows, clock and toys to form an integral part of many early childhoods.

Sue is joined around the table by Joy Whitby, presenters Floella Benjamin, Brian Cant, who also fronted spin-off series Play Away, and Toni Arthur and musical director/pianist Jonathan Cohen.

The programme also features contributions from Johnny Ball and Play School historian Paul R.

Jackson.

Producer: Chris Green

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue Macgregor reunites people involved with classic children's TV programme Play School.

Sue is joined around the table by Joy Whitby, presenters Floella Benjamin, Brian Cant, who also fronted spin-off series Play Away, and Johnny Ball and musical director/pianist Jonathan Cohen.

Sue MacGregor reunites people involved with classic children's TV programme Play School, which ran from 1964 to 1988.

The programme also features contributions from Johnny Ball and Play School historian Paul R. Jackson.

1401Unhcr Bosnia2011030620110311

In this episode of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor gathers together six people who were closely connected to the humanitarian aid operation in Bosnia during the war of 1992 to 1995.

This was the most devastating conflict in Europe since the end of World War 2.

Atrocity after atrocity stirred public opinion to demand action but this was seen as a civil war to which there was no easy military solution.

The most the international community could agree to start with was a mission to deliver humanitarian aid.

The relief organisation which found itself at the centre of the crisis was the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

The operation in Bosnia was one of the most complex and risky they'd ever undertaken.

More than two million people were displaced during the conflict by what became known as 'ethnic cleansing.' Many suffered starvation or rape and were forced into concentration camps.

Others were massacred.

Supplies of food, fuel, medicine, clothes and shelter were critical.

But the conditions under which aid workers were operating were exceptional.

In the long term their experience in Bosnia would have an unprecedented impact on the future of the organisation and its way of working.

Sue is joined around the table by; Tony Land, Chief of Operations for the UN refugee agency for much of the war; Larry Hollingworth, was a logistics officer with UNHCR; Amira Sadicovic, worked as UNHCR's external relations officer; Kris Janowski became its longest serving field-worker, Paddy Ashdown was the most prominent British politician to visit Bosnia during that period and Misha Glenny reported from Bosnia for the BBC throughout the war.

Producers: Sarah Cuddon and David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites those behind the humanitarian aid operation during the Bosnian war.

1402Comic Relief2011031320110318
20140810 (BBC7)
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In this episode of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor gathers together the founding members of Comic Relief.

The idea first emerged in 1984 when a devastating famine was crippling Ethiopia.

Inspired by the work of Live Aid, a group of people led by writer Richard Curtis decided to tap into the great British comedy scene and raise money for Africa.

All costs would be covered by sponsors.

This would enable the 'Golden Pound' principal - that every penny raised should go to charity.

Comic Relief was launched live on Noel Edmonds' Late, Late Breakfast Show on Christmas Day 1985 from a refugee camp in Sudan.

Helen Fielding was the Comic Relief documentary maker leading the project in Africa at the time.

The launch raised £1 million.

A few months later Comic Relief staged their first live fundraising show at London's Shaftesbury Theatre with performances by Rowan Atkinson, Ronnie Corbett and Kate Bush.

That year, they released their first number one hit single with The Young Ones and Cliff Richard.

Comic Relief needed a symbol - something which could be sold in exchange for a donation and which would give the public a way of joining in.

On the back of the Red Nose idea came the first ever Red Nose Day TV extravaganza in 1988 - an event which would bring together comedy and charity like never before on live national TV.

Richard Curtis recalls 'chaos, panic and tears' behind the scenes.

The show raised a staggering £15 million and would go on to become an institution.

Sue is joined around the table by; Richard Curtis co-founder of Comic Relief; Lenny Henry and Griff Rhys Jones who presented the early TV shows; Helen Fielding who was the first Africa documentary producer and Paddy Coulter, who was Head of Media at Oxfam and an early Comic Relief board member.

Producer: Sarah Cuddon

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites the original team behind the charity Comic Relief.

This would enable the 'Golden Pound' principle - that every penny raised should go to charity.

The idea first emerged in 1984 when a devastating famine was crippling Ethiopia. Inspired by the work of Live Aid, a group of people led by writer Richard Curtis decided to tap into the great British comedy scene and raise money for Africa. All costs would be covered by sponsors. This would enable the 'Golden Pound' principle - that every penny raised should go to charity.

Comic Relief was launched live on Noel Edmonds' Late, Late Breakfast Show on Christmas Day 1985 from a refugee camp in Sudan. Helen Fielding was the Comic Relief documentary maker leading the project in Africa at the time. The launch raised £1 million. A few months later Comic Relief staged their first live fundraising show at London's Shaftesbury Theatre with performances by Rowan Atkinson, Ronnie Corbett and Kate Bush. That year, they released their first number one hit single with The Young Ones and Cliff Richard.

Comic Relief needed a symbol - something which could be sold in exchange for a donation and which would give the public a way of joining in. On the back of the Red Nose idea came the first ever Red Nose Day TV extravaganza in 1988 - an event which would bring together comedy and charity like never before on live national TV. Richard Curtis recalls 'chaos, panic and tears' behind the scenes. The show raised a staggering £15 million and would go on to become an institution.

1403Brixton Riots2011032020110325

In this edition of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor reunites five people who lived through the dramatic events which stunned the nation when simmering tensions erupted into an all out battle between police and youths in Brixton in April 1981.

On Saturday the 11th of April 1981 Brixton was set ablaze as hundreds of local youths fought the Metropolitan Police in running street battles.

The police came under a hail of bricks and bottles, and petrol bombs were thrown at them for the first time on mainland Britain.

Ill equipped and lacking in training at one point they struggled even to defend the police station on Brixton Road.

What was shocking to many people was the unexpectedness of events.

But below the surface tensions had been building.

Many young black men believed officers discriminated against them, particularly by use of the 'sus' law under which anybody could be stopped and searched if officers merely suspected they might be planning to carry out a crime.

In early April, Operation Swamp - an attempt to cut street crime in Brixton which used the sus law to stop more than 1,000 people in six days - heightened tensions.

Whilst the press called it "the Brixton riots", giving the impression that it was the work of a hysterical mob.

Linton Kwesi Johnson redefined the moment as "di great insohreckshan".

"It is noh mistri/we mekkin histri," he wrote.

Joining Sue around the table is: novelist Alex Wheatle ; Ted Knight, then the leader of Lambeth Borough Council; journalist and broadcaster Darcus Howe and former policemen Brian Paddick and Peter Bleksley.

Producer: Emily Williams and David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites five people caught up in the 1981 Brixton Riots.

1404 LASTThe British Rock And Rollers2011032720110401
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In this edition of The Reunion, Sue Macgregor reunites five people who took part in the earliest days of rock and roll in the UK.

The first stirrings occurred when the film Blackboard Jungle, featuring Bill Haley and The Comets singing 'Rock Around The Clock' was released in 1955, but when Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley entered the UK charts in May 1956, a passion for rock and roll was ignited amongst the youth.

Within a matter of months Tommy Steele's 'Rock With The Caveman,' generally considered to be the first rock and roll song to have originated in the UK, had reached number 13 in the charts.

The rock and roll revolution was under way.

Tommy Steele was discovered in the 2i's Coffee Bar in Old Compton Street in Soho, as was Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Mickie Most, Joe Brown, Vince Taylor and Terry Dene amongst many others.

The person who discovered him, Larry Parnes, was the UK's first pop manager.

In this programme, Sue Macgregor will be discussing those days with Bruce Welch from The Shadows, Terry Dene, Vince Eager and Marty Wilde who all signed up with Larry Parnes and Clem Cattini, who played drums with all of them.

Producer: Brian McCluskey

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue Macgregor reunites some of Britain's first rock and rollers.

Sue Macgregor reunites five people from the birth of rock 'n' roll in the UK.

Within a matter of months Tommy Steele's 'Rock With The Caveman,' generally considered to be the first rock and roll song to have originated in the UK, had reached number 13 in the charts. The rock and roll revolution was under way.

Tommy Steele was discovered in the 2i's Coffee Bar in Old Compton Street in Soho, as was Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Mickie Most, Joe Brown, Vince Taylor and Terry Dene amongst many others. The person who discovered him, Larry Parnes, was the UK's first pop manager.

1501Barings Bank Collapse2011080720110812

In the first of a new series of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor reunites Nick Leeson, the man who broke Barings bank, with his colleagues and former boss, Peter Norris.

On the 26th February 1995, a pillar of the British financial and social establishment suddenly came crashing to the ground as Britain's oldest merchant bank went bust with debts of £830 million.

Barings Bank had financed Napoleon, been immortalised by Byron, and held accounts for The Queen and many in the aristocracy.

Barings had stood aloof, a symbol of discreet grandeur and probity since 1762.

But now Britain's oldest merchant bank was bust, and the architect of destruction was Nicolas Leeson, a plaster's son from Watford.

He was Barings star trader on the Singapore International Monetary Exchange and regularly reported huge profits to his delighted bosses.

The truth was that he was losing Barings and their customers hundreds of millions of pounds which he' d been hiding in a secret account.

As company auditors eventually closed in, Leeson fled Singapore with his wife Lisa.

Back in London that weekend, frantic efforts were being made to save Barings and the whole banking sector from meltdown before the markets opened on Monday morning.

For the first time since 1995 rogue trader Nick Lesson will publicly face his former boss Peter Norris - now a senior figure in the Virgin Group - who presided over the investment department in which Leeson traded secretly for years before the bank's eventual collapse.

Also joining Sue will be Andrea Leadsom MP, who in 1995 managed a team of bankers at Barclays who supplied finance for Barings investments, Nicholas Edwards then an investment banker with Barings in London, the administrator of Barings Alan Bloom, and John Gapper of the FT.

Producers: Peter Curran and David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites those behind the collapse of Barings Bank in 1995.

1502The Courtauld Institute2011081420110819
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In this edition of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor reunites five past pupils of London's Courtauld Institute of Art, which pioneered the teaching of art history, has produced countless stars of the art and museum world, and whose most famous Director was the fourth man in the infamous Cambridge spy ring.

On the 15th November 1979, Anthony Blunt was exposed as a Soviet spy.

The former Cambridge don was at the peak of his career as an art historian - he was Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, had received a knighthood, and as director of the Courtauld Institute, had made it one of the most prestigious centres for the study of art history.

The news was greeted with outcry by the public for whom Blunt represented elitism and sordid decadence.

Blunt was stripped of his knighthood, hounded by the press, and never returned to the Institute he had dedicated his life to.

But to his students, Blunt was a remarkable tutor who had given them their careers, many as staff at the Institute.

Joining Sue around the table is: Booker-prize winning author and past tutor at the Institute, Anita Brookner; Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor; travel-writer Michael Jacobs; founder of the Art Newspaper, Anna Somers Cocks, and the art critic who was a close personal friend of Blunt's, Brian Sewell.

Producer: Katherine Godfrey

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites five star pupils of the former spy Anthony Blunt.

On the 15th November 1979, Anthony Blunt was exposed as a Soviet spy. The former Cambridge don was at the peak of his career as an art historian - he was Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, had received a knighthood, and as director of the Courtauld Institute, had made it one of the most prestigious centres for the study of art history.

The news was greeted with outcry by the public for whom Blunt represented elitism and sordid decadence. Blunt was stripped of his knighthood, hounded by the press, and never returned to the Institute he had dedicated his life to. But to his students, Blunt was a remarkable tutor who had given them their careers, many as staff at the Institute.

1503Zeebrugge Ferry Disaster2011082120110826

In the third programme of the latest BBC Radio 4 series of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor reunites people involved with the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster.

The Townsend Thoresen ferry capsized minutes after leaving the Belgian port of Zeebrugge on March 6, 1987 - the worst maritime disaster involving a British registered ship in peacetime since the Titanic sinking in 1912.

193 passengers and crew were killed - the youngest was just 23 days old - and very few families survived all together.

The disaster would have been much worse if the ferry had not capsized onto a sandbank.

The subsequent public inquiry found that human error was to blame - the ship's bow doors had been left open.

The design of roll on roll off ferries, with a huge open car deck, was also a contributory factor.

However, senior management at Townsend Thoresen were also heavily criticised.

They were accused of imposing quick turnaround times for ferries in order to meet increasing passenger demand in an era of cheap fares and booze cruises.

Sue is joined around the table by survivor Simon Osborne, who lost two close friends; Margaret de Rohan, whose daughter and son-in-law died in the tragedy; Captain Malcolm Shakesby MBE, who took control of the immediate rescue operation; Dover Counselling Centre co-founder Dr Bill Moses MBE and Dr Ian Dand, who investigated the cause of the disaster for the public inquiry.

Producer: Chris Green

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites people affected by the 1987 Zeebrugge Ferry disaster.

1504Boys From The Blackstuff2011082820110902
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In this edition of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor reunites Julie Walters, Alan Bleasdale, Tom Georgeson, Michael Angelis and producer Michael Wearing to talk about their roles in the landmark 1980s drama series Boys from the Blackstuff.

Writer Alan Bleasdale's hard-hitting drama series was set against the harsh backdrop of struggle and bleak unemployment in the Liverpool of Thatcher's Britain.

It chronicled the lives of a group of men as they sought to find work, whilst suffering the despair and indignity of life on the scrapheap.

First transmitted in October 1982, it received widespread critical acclaim and became a 'television event'.

Boys from the Blackstuff had an immediate and startling impact, thanks to the sheer heartfelt emotional power of Bleasdale's uncompromising writing and an extraordinarily gifted ensemble cast.

It painted an uncomfortable, but warranted portrait of a city and a country teetering precariously on the brink of social and economic disaster, where the only real victims were those who were prevented by circumstances from leading fulfilling and productive lives.

The original team join Sue MacGregor to talk about their experiences of the making of the series and its widespread resonance across the nation.

Producer: Christina Captieux

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites those involved in the making of TV's Boys from the Blackstuff.

Writer Alan Bleasdale's hard-hitting drama series was set against the harsh backdrop of struggle and bleak unemployment in the Liverpool of Thatcher's Britain. It chronicled the lives of a group of men as they sought to find work, whilst suffering the despair and indignity of life on the scrapheap. First transmitted in October 1982, it received widespread critical acclaim and became a 'television event'.

Boys from the Blackstuff had an immediate and startling impact, thanks to the sheer heartfelt emotional power of Bleasdale's uncompromising writing and an extraordinarily gifted ensemble cast. It painted an uncomfortable, but warranted portrait of a city and a country teetering precariously on the brink of social and economic disaster, where the only real victims were those who were prevented by circumstances from leading fulfilling and productive lives.

1505The Hunting Ban2011090420110909

In 1997 Labour came to power with a promise to ban hunting with dogs, and thousands of rural people rose up to oppose them.

Sue MacGregor reunites five people from both sides of the campaign.

Within weeks of entering parliament, the new Labour government had locked horns with the countryside.

The party that had come to power promising to govern for the whole nation, had managed to alienate great swathes of the rural population who demanded recognition.

At the heart of it all was a battle over hunting with hounds.

For many in rural Britain this represented a way of life they'd known for centuries, and for others, their livelihood.

For many in the urban population, Labour's victory was a chance to finally kill off what they saw as an arcane and cruel pastime.

They had the backing of a vocal animal rights lobby and a Labour manifesto pledge to give MPs a free vote on the issue.

The result was a battle that took the government by surprise.

The countryside rose up and demonstrated like never before.

Not since the Tolpuddle Martyrs in the 1830s had an issue brought so many on to the streets of London to protest.

As parliament witnessed heated debates, angry demonstrations outside turned bloody.

Thousands of previously law-abiding people threatened civil disobedience, as MPs and anti-hunt campaigners received death threats and dead foxes on their doorsteps.

Presenter: Sue MacGregor

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites five people on opposite sides of the campaign to ban hunting.

1506 LASTLes Miserables2011091120110916

In this episode of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor brings together the people who created the musical Les Miserables, which has been playing to audiences around the world for more than 25 years.

The show was conceived in 1980 by French librettist Alain Boublil and composer Claude-Michel Schonberg.

There wasn't a scene for musical theatre in France at the time so they turned their attention to Britain and eventually found interest in a young established producer of musicals, Cameron Mackintosh.

The early 80s was something of a revolution for musical theatre in the UK.

The ground had been laid with the early Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals but it wasn't until Cats in 1981 and then Starlight Express in 1984 that the British began to show they could do musical theatre on a level with their American counterparts.

Cameron approached Royal Shakespeare Company directors Trevor Nunn and John Caird and they formed a groundbreaking collaboration between the subsidized and commercial theatres to bring Les Miserables onto the London stage.

The show opened at London's Barbican theatre in October 1985 and audiences loved it.

But the critics were less enthusiastic describing it as 'a lurid Victorian melodrama' and 'witless and synthetic.' Despite the bad reviews the show continued to sell out and it soon moved into the West End and then onto Broadway.

To this day the show has played in more than 42 countries worldwide and in 21 languages.

To recall the beginning of Les Miserables and to reflect on its enduring popularity, Sue is joined around the table by producer Cameron Mackintosh, composer Claude-Michel Schonberg, actor Michael Ball, lyricist Herbert Kretzmer and director John Caird.

Producer: Sarah Cuddon

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites those behind the world's longest running musical - Les Miserables.

16011948 Olympic Games In London2012040120120406

Sue MacGregor reunites five British Olympians from the 1948 Games.

In the first of a new series of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor brings together five athletes who competed in the Olympic Games of 1948 in London.

Dorothy Tyler won a silver medal for the High Jump, Dorothy Manley won silver for the women's 100 metres, Tommy Godwin won two bronze medals for cycling, John Parlett ran in the men's 800 metre race and Sir Roger Bannister was Assistant to the Chef de Mission for the Games.

In many ways London was not an obvious choice of venue for the 1948 Games. The war had left Britain virtually bankrupt. London was bomb damaged and rationing was still in place. But despite the drawbacks, Prime Minister Attlee saw the Games as something which could boost spirits of the nation.

The whole event was organised in less than two years and relied heavily on sponsorship and donations. No new facilities were to be built. The Games (dubbed 'The Austerity Olympics') would be a 'make do and mend' venture. The Empire Stadium at Wembley formed the main site for events.

Competitors had little time to train but they were offered extra food rations once they'd been selected. They were accommodated in RAF camps and were required to make their own kit. Fewer than 10% of the competitors in 1948 were female and this was also the year that the 'sex test' was introduced to stop any risk of men masquerading as women.

The opening ceremony took place on a baking hot July day. Four thousand athletes from fifty nine nations marched into Wembley arena to be addressed by King George VI. Some of the stars of that year included the Dutch athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen, known as 'the flying housewife' and the eccentric Czech runner, Emil Zatopek. America topped the tables with 38 Gold medals and when the Games were over they discovered they'd even made a profit.

Producer: Sarah Cuddon

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

1602Greenham Common2012040820120413

In the second of a new series of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor brings together five people from both sides of the fence at the Greenham Common airbase.

In the early 1980s the Berkshire military base became home to a nuclear arsenal capable of wiping out most of civilisation. Over many years thousands of women took part in massive protests, many hundreds were arrested and jailed - and policing costs alone ran into millions. The startling methods and unorthodox ways of the women dominated headlines for more than a decade.

Helen John was among the first protestors to arrive, Katherine Jones stayed for 17 years and Rebecca Johnson now travels the world advising on nuclear weapons policy. Mick Marsh was the base commander at the height of the protests and Mick Eathorne-Gibbons was the Conservative councillor for Greenham. They all played a key role in one of the largest and longest protests in living memory.

At its height, the camp was home to about 100 women - they endured terrible weather, squalor, ridicule and intimidation. Local residents were desperate to see the back of them.

Were the women fearless heroines challenging the might of the superpowers or, as many press reports at the time maintained, a band of peacenik feminists with a grudge against men In this programme they re-live those turbulent times and debate to what extent the actions of the peace protestors impacted on global negotiations to reduce Cruise missiles.

Producer: Karen Pirie

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites five people from both sides of the Greenham Common fence.

16031982 Hms Sheffield2012041520120420

Thirty years after the Falklands war, Sue MacGregor brings together six men from HMS Sheffield, hit by an Argentine missile on 4th May 1982, and sunk six days later.

The British Task Force had only just arrived in the disputed area of the South Atlantic. The company of HMS Sheffield, fresh from a six month tour of the Gulf, were just six days from home when they received the order to turn around and head South.

Few knew much about the Falkland Islands, and believed the dispute with Argentina would be solved before they even got there. But diplomacy failed and by 1st May hostilities had begun in earnest. Just three days later Sheffield was hit.

HMS Sheffield was one of three Type 42 destroyers, whose role was to protect the vital aircraft carriers, Hermes and Invincible from attack. That attack, when it came, was fast, low and devastating - an Exocet missile, fired from an Argentine Super-Etandard aircraft, locked on target, skimmed the waterline and hit Sheffield amidships, knocking out all her vital services. The crew had only a few seconds warning.

There was no explosion, just a rapid spread of thick, acrid smoke from a fire that raged uncontrollably for several days. Desperate attempts to fight the fire were in vain, and with the deck raging hot, and fire rapidly approaching the ship's own missile system, the order was given to abandon ship. Sheffield sank six days later, the first British warship to be lost in battle since World War Two.

In the hours that followed the survivors pieced together who was missing. Twenty men had died, some bravely staying at their posts, trying to restore vital services to the ship, others going back in to rescue others.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites six men who survived the sinking of HMS Sheffield in the Falklands.

16041997 Globe Theatre2012042220120427

In this edition of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor reunites five people who created a London landmark - Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Despite three decades of setbacks they defied the critics to make the Globe a critical and commercial success.

When Shakespeare's Globe was opened by the Queen on the 12th June 1997, it was the culmination of a dream that began over fifty years earlier. The American actor Sam Wanamaker visited London in 1949 hoping to find the original Globe, where William Shakespeare had written plays. Instead, he found a plaque on a brewery wall. Outraged, he began his quest to reinstate the Globe.

He wanted to bring the Elizabethan Globe to life in look and feel. But a simple idea turned into a protracted mission that risked the livelihoods and reputations of everyone involved. There were accusations that it would be a 'Disneyland' for Shakespeare. Some Southwark residents wanted council houses, not a theatre. And just when it looked like the Globe team had the go-ahead to build, a group of road sweepers became the catalyst for a lengthy court battle that almost ended the project before building began.

But timber by timber, Shakespeare's Globe took shape. And when it finally opened, audiences queued around the block, rainmacs in hand, for open-air performances under its thatched roof. Fifteen years on, experimentation and award-winning performances have firmly established the Globe in the Shakespeare circuit.

Joining Sue MacGregor is: Patrick Spottiswoode, the first Director of Education; Diana Devlin, who saw the project through some of its most difficult years; architect Jon Greenfield; Claire van Kampen, the first Director of Music; and Zoe Wanamaker, Sam's actor daughter who is now Honorary President of Shakespeare's Globe.

Producer: Katherine Godfrey

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites five founders of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

1605 LAST1997 Hong Kong Handover2012042920120504

In the last programme in this series of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor brings together five people who helped pave the way for the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China.

Hong Kong's 28th and last Governor Lord Chris Patten; General Bryan Dutton who was head of the British garrison; diplomat Hugh Davies who led the British negotiating team in the colony; legislator and pro-democracy campaigner Emily Lau lost her job on the stroke of midnight and influential Hong Kong businessman Sir David Tang who waved the British off.

In Hong Kong the clock was always ticking. Unlike her other colonial possessions Hong Kong was only ever on lease to Britain. A 99 year lease set to expire on the 30th of June 1997 when the territory would automatically revert to Chinese rule. By the eighties Hong Kong was the busiest container port in the word and the economic gateway to China. But no-one really knew what would happen in 97 when the lease ran out.

The killing of hundreds of demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989, an act which brought a million people on to the streets of Hong Kong in protest, turned acquiescence at the thought of Chinese rule into fear. Hong Kong people started leaving in droves. Between 1984 and 1997 one sixth of the Hong Kong population emigrated, 66,000 in 1992 alone.

As Britain's withdrawal got underway there was still heated debate over how China would run the colony in the future. The 1984 Sino British Joint Declaration had provided a roadmap for Hong Kong's future but the devil was in the detail. Heated exchanges were still going on minutes before the highly orchestrated handover ceremony in which Governor Patten came face to face with those who had denounced him as a 'serpent' and a 'wrongdoer' who would be condemned for a thousand generations'.

Producer: Emily Williams

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites five people involved in the British handover of Hong Kong in 1997.

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Sue MacGregor reunites a group of Asians who were expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972

Sue MacGregor gathers together a group of Asians who were forced to flee from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972.

Manzoor Moghal was a businessman and a prominent member of the Asian community when he was forced to leave; Tahera Aanchawan was training to become a physiotherapist; Councillor Ravi Govindia, now leader of Wandsworth Council, was completing his A levels; Chandrika Joshi, now a dentist, was 14 years old when her family were expelled; and the writer and broadcaster Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was a young student at the time.

Asians had first arrived in Uganda in the late 19th century under British colonial rule. They prospered in trade, business and the professions and, by 1972, they were at the centre of the Ugandan economy. But when Amin came to power he declared they were "bloodsuckers." He claimed he'd had a dream in which God had ordered him to expel all the Asians from Uganda. He stated Britain should take responsibility for any Asian with British citizenship and gave them 90 days to leave.

As the Asians made urgent plans, stories emerged of looting and attacks by Amin's army. Houses and shops were abandoned. Each family was allowed to take just £50 in cash and two suitcases with them.

British Prime Minister Edward Heath agreed Britain should accept all those with British passports. A resettlement board was set up to help the Asians find accommodation, but many faced hostility from those supporting Enoch Powell's anti-immigration campaign. Despite often high levels of education, they were forced to take whatever work they could find. Many took factory jobs and others started their own businesses but, in the next few years, the Ugandan Asians changed the face of urban Britain.

Producer: Sarah Cuddon

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

1703Poll Tax2012090220120907

Sue MacGregor reunites the architects and opponents of the infamous Poll Tax initiative.

In this week's Reunion, Sue MacGregor and guests revisit one of the most dramatic battles of Margaret Thatcher's premiership: the poll tax.

The Community Charge, or poll tax as it was known, was designed to replace the rates and to make local councils more accountable to their voters by charging every resident for the use of local services. But with a wealthy landowner potentially paying the same as a dustman, it was seen by many as grossly unfair. A massive campaign of civil disobedience followed, that saw even Members of Parliament jailed for refusing to pay their bills.

On the eve of its introduction, on 31st March 1990, thousands of people demonstrated in London against the Poll Tax. But as the day wore on, police and demonstrators clashed violently. Buildings were set on fire, cars overturned, windows smashed, and shops looted. There were accusations of police brutality, and agents provocateurs. Dozens of protestors and police were injured. For many looking back, it was the final nail in the coffin of Mrs Thatcher's Britain.

By the end of that year Mrs Thatcher was forced to step down. Months later, the poll tax was scrapped.

Joining Sue MacGregor to recall the period is: Lord Baker, who as Local Government Minister helped devise the Community Charge, Chris Brearley, one of the civil servants who worked on the legislation, David Magor, Assistant Treasurer of Oxford City Council, Danny Burns, who co-ordinated resistance to the tax in the South West, and Chris Moyers, who started up her own protest group near Edinburgh to oppose the Scottish poll tax.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

1704Dolly The Sheep2012090920120914

In this week's Reunion, Sue MacGregor gathers together creators of Dolly the cloned sheep - a revolutionary but divisive scientific breakthrough.

Dolly defied scientific convention. With her birth on 5th July 1996, her makers had done the impossible - cloned an animal from a cell taken from an adult mammal. When Dolly was announced to the world on 22nd February 1997 she became global front page news. Press and public flocked to her home at the Roslin Institute outside Edinburgh to catch a glimpse of the world's most famous sheep.

Dolly's birth sparked fears that human cloning, a favourite topic for science fiction authors, would soon become reality. Roslin scientists were called upon to advise Government select committees on the implications of cloning research and in the United States the Clinton administration scrambled to create laws to prevent human cloning.

Fifteen years on, Dolly's impact is still being felt. The research she sparked into stem cells, which could be used to treat conditions such as Motor Neuron Disease and Parkinson's, is still developing and with remarkable breakthroughs. Yet it too is controversial, some pro-life groups object to certain areas of research that use cells harvested from human embryos.

Joining Sue MacGregor to recall Dolly's creation and legacy is: Sir Ian Wilmut, then head of the Dolly team and now Chair of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh; Professor Keith Campbell who led the scientific research; Dr Bill Ritchie, who implemented the cloning theory; Marjorie Ritchie, the Institute's surgeon; and John Bracken, the anaesthetist present at Dolly's birth and the man who named her.

Producer: Katherine Godfrey

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Joining Sue MacGregor to recall Dolly's creation and legacy is: Sir Ian Wilmut, then head of the Dolly team and now Director of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh; Professor Keith Campbell who led the scientific research; Bill Ritchie, who implemented the cloning theory; Marjorie Ritchie, the Institute's surgeon; and John Bracken, the anaesthetist present at Dolly's birth and the man who named her.

Sue MacGregor reunites the creators of Dolly the cloned sheep.

1705 LASTBig Brother2012091620120921

In this week's Reunion, Sue MacGregor and guests revisit the show that transformed British television for either good or bad, depending on your point of view, when it first hit our screens in July of 2000.

Big Brother placed participants under 24-hr camera and microphone scrutiny in a "house" where they competed to avoid nomination by housemates, then eviction by public vote. Such was the media interest in this first series, the news that Nasty Nick Bateman had been thrown out featured on the front page of almost every national newspaper in the UK. By the time Series 5 arrived, the then Chancellor Gordon Brown found himself answering questions about racism in an episode of Big Brother, during a visit to India.

Throughout the eight weeks spent inside the house, contestants were not permitted to make any contact with the outside world. There were few home comforts, limitations on food, and weekly tasks and competitions. In the Diary Room, housemates were expected to privately convey their true thoughts and feelings before revealing their nominees for eviction.

The show generated a torrent of media analysis and opinion on both the psychological effects on contestants and what society now considered "entertainment".

Joining Sue MacGregor to recall the first series of Big Brother are:

Sir Peter Bazalgette who developed and produced the UK format of Big Brother and was described by critic Victor Lewis Smith as having "done more to debase television over the past decade than anyone else";

Tim Gardam, then Channel Four's Director of Programmes who commissioned Big Brother;

and some of those whose lives were changed after taking part in the first series in 2000.

Producer: Peter Curran

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.