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.

Episodes

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Alan Bennett's Talking Heads2015090620150911 (R4)

The alcoholic and Godless wife of a vicar, a curtain-twitching meddler who finds happiness in prison and a timid suburban housewife who falls in love with a murderer. Three of 12 seemingly remarkable yet ordinary characters who made up Alan Bennett's two series of ground-breaking TV monologues.

Despite a script for just one voice, each play is peopled with vivid additional characters and dramatic action, so vivid that years later some viewers falsely remember seeing "off-screen" characters.

The heartbreaking and hilarious stories were a big hit with TV audiences who saw ordinary folk like them grappling with indignities, dilemmas and disasters.

In this edition of The Reunion, Alan Bennett describes who inspired his characters and why he choose the monologue form.

Penelope Wilton, who appeared as Rosemary in Nights in the Garden of Spain, explains to Sue MacGregor how it took two days to decipher Bennett's terrible handwriting before she realised that he'd written a Talking Head for her.

Tristram Powell directed two episodes and describes his less is more approach allowing the actors, and significantly Bennett's writing, to captivate viewers, rather than slick editing and eye-catching sets.

The concept of a monologue was virtually unheard of in television and has rarely been tried since. It was initially met with scepticism by some, including, actress Patricia Routledge who recalls how Bennett patiently waited for her to capitulate. She went on to appear in two episodes.

Producer: Karen Pirie

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Birmingham Six2015091320150918 (R4)

Sue MacGregor's guests remember the campaign to free the Birmingham Six.

The release of the Birmingham Six in 1991 was a landmark in British legal history. The six men had been convicted of bombing two Birmingham pubs in November 1974, killing 21 people in what was then the worst IRA attack on British soil.

But the Six always protested their innocence and their supporters spent 16 years campaigning for their release before the evidence against them was shown to be unreliable and their convictions quashed.

It had been a long hard struggle. In the early years the men and their families wrote to everyone they could think of, appealing for help: politicians, trades unions, church leaders and human rights organisations. Breda Power, whose father Billy was one of the men convicted, tells Sue MacGregor that at first no-one wanted to listen. For many years, they had the door continually shut in their face. Ann Farrell, daughter of Richard McIlkenny, another of the Six, says: "When you know that someone you love is in prison for something they haven't done, you never give up, no matter how hard it is".

Paddy Hill was one of the most vocal of the Birmingham Six in protesting his innocence, and eventually one of his letters was published in the left wing journal, Tribune. Chris Mullin, then a journalist, and later an MP, tells Sue MacGregor why he published the letter, and how he went on to investigate the case.

Also joining Sue is Brian Hambleton whose sister Maxine was killed in the Birmingham bombs and who is still campaigning to bring the real bombers to justice.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Contaminated Blood2016091120160916 (R4)

Sue MacGregor meets haemophiliacs and others affected by the contaminated blood disaster.

It is often referred to as the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS - throughout the 1970s and 80s thousands of British haemophiliacs were given NHS treatment that, while easing their bleeding symptoms, ended up infecting them with potentially deadly viruses. Nearly 5000 contracted Hepatitis C and 1200 of those also contracted HIV. Many hundreds have died.

Haemophilia is a bleeding disorder caused by a deficiency of one of the proteins essential for the normal clotting of blood. A new treatment containing concentrated amounts of these clotting factors transformed life for haemophiliacs and their families in the 1970s. But the treatment was pooled from multiple blood donations, and it only took one infected donation to contaminate the whole supply.

Britain's blood processing plants couldn't produce enough Factor Concentrate to satisfy demand so commercial supplies were imported from the United States, where the risk of infection was even higher. American donors were paid for their blood, attracting large numbers of higher risk donors - alcoholics, drug addicts and homeless people - who were more likely to be suffering from viruses and less likely to risk their fee by admitting it. This was the era when AIDS was just emerging, and little was known about how it was spread.

Sue MacGregor's guests include David Watters, who ran the Haemophilia Society at the time and was inundated with calls from terrified families; Colette Wintel who was infected with Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C; Dr Peter Jones who ran the Newcastle Haemophilia Centre; Janette Johnson, whose son Graham contracted AIDS and died aged 15; and "John", who contracted AIDS and Hepatitis C as a teenager.

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Disability Campaigners2016041020160415 (R4)

Sue MacGregor reunites five people who experienced a long and bitter struggle for historic disability discrimination rights.

Kept apart from other children in stiflingly boring special schools, hidden away in institutions or trapped and powerless in family homes, this was normal life for millions of disabled people in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s.

Routinely turned away from cafes for "putting other customers off" and cinemas for being "a fire hazard", cruel names and insensitive questions were a regular indignity.

In 1979 a Government report found that discrimination against disabled people was as bad as that relating to race or gender. The reportt highlighted the case of a draughtsman whose job offer was withdrawn because he had a prosthetic leg.

In the 1980s, a new generation of disabled people started challenging society and the Government, saying it was society that prevented them from actively participating in a fuller working and social life.

When letters and peaceful campaigning failed, demonstrators upped the ante, chaining themselves to buses and bringing Whitehall to a standstill. The campaign split friendships and loyalties and left many bitterly disappointed.

Joining Sue around the table to look back on what was dubbed "the last civil rights movement" are Baroness Jane Campbell who was arrested during campaigning; Sir Bert Massie who was accused of being an "Uncle Tom" when he started working with the Government; Peter White who, as the BBC's Disability Correspondent, had a front row seat on the campaign; Lord Hague who steered the Disability Discrimination Act through Parliament; and Adam Thomas who met his wife while chained to a bus!

Producer: Karen Pirie

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites five people involved in the fight for historic disability rights.

Edinburgh Fringe Founders 196020140803 (BBC7)
20140804 (BBC7)

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

Sue MacGregor reunites some of the founders and leading performers from the Edinburgh Fringe, including Arnold Brown. From September 2005.

Euro 962016041720160422 (R4)

The European Championship of 1996 was the opportunity for English football to recapture some pride, after the failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. England were the hosts, and an extraordinarily hot summer set the stage.

The tournament became poised as an important national moment - sales of St. Georges flags exploded and Skinner and Baddiel's Britpop infused tournament anthem Three Lions was inescapable.

But as the start of the tournament approached, lead striker Alan Shearer was struggling for goals, coach Terry Venables had had little time to implement his strategy, and no-one knew if the unpredictable but brilliant midfielder Paul Gascoigne would be able to show the form for which he was famous. While excitement built at home, the players were in the headlines for the wrong reasons when a pre-season tour of the Far East combined failings on the pitch with drunken photographs of players in the tabloid newspapers.

But once the tournament started, the team rode luck and individual brilliance to the semi-final.

Sue is joined by Darren Anderton, who played all five games, and by Ted Buxton, who was the assistant to the manager and the Chief Scout. David Davies was in charge of the team's relationship with the press, Harry Harris was covering the tournament as Chief Football Writer for the Daily Mirror, and Barry Davies was commentating for the BBC.

Producer: Robert Nicholson

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor and guests look back on the Euro 96 football tournament.

Far East Prisoners Of War2015042620150501 (R4)

Sue MacGregor's guests remember their time as Far East POWs during the Second World War.

Early in the Second World War, the Imperial Japanese made major military advances throughout the Far East. The fall of Singapore in February 1942 resulted in the single largest surrender of British-led military personnel. Winton Churchill called it "the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history". In total, the Japanese took 140,000 Allied prisoners, including 67,000 British.

The prisoners were sent to forced labour camps throughout South-East Asia. The Thailand-Burma Railway is perhaps the best known project, but many more POWs were shipped via "hell ships" to islands like Java and Ambon. The Japanese captors treated the prisoners horrifically, subjecting them to brutal beatings, intense work, starvation, disease and searing heat. Over a quarter of POWs died in the camps.

Sue MacGregor's guests include: Bob Morrell, who remembers his "coffin duty" on the island of Ambon; centenarian Bill Frankland, who was a medical officer treating prisoners near Singapore.; William Mumby who was shipped throughout the region, and Tony Lucas, who was sent to the Thailand-Burma Railway and helped carve "Hellfire Pass". Sue is also joined by historian Sibylla Jane Flower who made a special study of Allied prisoners held by the Japanese.

After the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and V-J Day, the POWs undertook the arduous journey back to Britain. Many were reunited with their families who were unaware of their survival. In the following decades, many former prisoners of war kept quiet about their experiences.

Producer: Colin McNulty

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Foot-and-mouth Disease2015083020150904 (R4)

Sue MacGregor reunites five people whose lives and livelihoods were dramatically changed by the Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2001.

In February of that year, Foot and Mouth disease hit the UK. During the next eight months there were 2,030 confirmed cases and more than ten million animals were destroyed. Across the country, dead bodies were piled onto huge pyres that took days to burn. The result was the creation of a sheep-free zone extending throughout the north of Cumbria, and Dumfries and Galloway.

The disease was spotted by a vet carrying out a routine inspection at Cheale Meats abattoir in Essex. Within a week, it became clear that Britain was experiencing its first major foot-and-mouth epidemic for 34 years.

Life in the countryside changed immediately. The owners of infected farms and their neighbours were quarantined in their homes as vets began destroying animals. During the first three weeks of the epidemic 1,100 suspected cases were reported, but with only 240 permanent veterinary staff, few of whom had any experience of Foot and Mouth Disease control, the authorities were overwhelmed.

Within weeks of the first confirmed case, the government ordered a mass cull of animals. The army was called in to help. It was estimated to be the biggest combined civil and military exercise in more than 30 years.

Sue MacGregor is joined by: Dr Alex Donaldson, the scientist called in to make the first official diagnosis; vet Peter Frost-Pennington who oversaw the slaughter of animals on infected farms in Cumbria; Brigadier Hugh Monro who was responsible for the cull in Southern Scotland; and farmers Paula Wolton from Devon and Peter Allen from Cumbria.

Producer: Emily Williams

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Guantanamo Bay2015081620150821 (R4)

Sue MacGregor speaks to former detainees and the head of the guard force at Guantanamo Bay

In 2002, a detention camp was hastily built in a remote corner of Cub, to house the men captured in America's "war on terror". Thirteen years later, it is still there. And in the intervening time, Guantanamo Bay has become a byword for controversy, a place Amnesty International called "the gulag of our time".

Now Sue MacGregor reunites two of the men held there. Sami al Hajj, a Sudanese cameraman with the news organisation Al Jazeera, was picked up in Afghanistan. He says he was covering America's war with the Taliban. Moazzam Begg, who is British, was living with his family in Pakistan when he was arrested. He claims he was handed over for bounty money. They are joined by Colonel Mike Bumgarner, head of the guard force at Guantanamo, and lawyer Clive Stafford Smith.

Sami al Hajj spent eight years in the camp. He describes being beaten and forcibly kept awake. He went on hunger strike and says he was force fed until he threw up, in an attempt to break his strike. But the worst torture was being kept away from his family, particularly his baby son. Moazzam Begg was detained for three years. He says he saw two men beaten to death by American soldiers in Afghanistan on his way to Guantanamo.

Colonel Mike Bumgarner describes how little guidance was given to those in charge of running the camp and points out that, while force feeding is unpleasant, detainees can't just be allowed to die. Clive Stafford Smith reveals the black humour at the heart of Guantanamo, recalling a detainee who was accused of being an Al Qaeda financier purely as a result of mistranslation.

Producer: Kate Taylor

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

James Bond2014090720140912

Great stunts, gorgeous girls, car chases, gadgets and exotic settings have helped maintain James Bond as the longest running series in film history.

Sir Roger Moore's Bond 1973 debut in Live and Let Die saw 007 reinvented for a more progressive era. Bond is less concerned with international Cold War super-villains and instead spears drug cartels infesting the streets of Harlem. 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me was nominated for three Academy Awards. And Moonraker delivered a Bond for the Star Wars generation.

With his matinee idol looks and martini dry wit Moore brought tremendous naughtiness to the part. Sue MacGregor reunites him with the team who helped make him the most popular Bond ever according to two polls from the last decade.

Barbara, the daughter of 007 mastermind Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, has fond memories from the Roger Moore era. She officially started in the publicity unit for The Spy Who Loved me and became assistant director on Octopussy. She and her step-brother Michael G Wilson have been co-producers for many years now.

John Glen - the most prolific director of the Bond franchise - impressed the team with his handling of action scenes including the scene when Bond shot off the edge of a cliff appearing again when his Union Jack parachute opened up. The world cheered!

Richard Kiel who played the terrifying Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me, recalls how making his character more "human" made him so popular with fans that he was brought back for a second appearance in Moonraker. And Britt Ekland says today's Bond girls are victim to the era of political correctness. "They are beautiful businesswomen instead of sex kittens like we were."

Producer: Karen Pirie

Series Producer: David Prest

THE REUNION is a Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Fresh from writing his new memoir 'Last Man Standing', Sir Roger is in the studio with co-producer and screenwriter (and step-son of 007 mastermind Cubby Broccoli) Michael G Wilson. His half-sister and co-producer Barbara Broccoli who has fond memories from the Roger Moore era. She officially started in the publicity unit for The Spy Who Loved me and became assistant director on Octopussy.

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Maastricht Treaty2016042420160429 (R4)

Sue MacGregor's guests reflect on the dramas of the Maastricht Treaty negotiations.

Former Ministers, backbench rebels and government advisors join Sue MacGregor to recall the dramas of the Maastricht Treaty negotiations.

The Maastricht Treaty is one of the most famous and controversial pieces of European legislation, forming the blueprint for economic and monetary union, and granting free movement to the citizens of the countries who signed it. But its path to signing was tortuous, causing deep divisions within the Conservative Party, turmoil on the economic markets, and friction between member states.

The summit at Maastricht was one of the first and most important tasks facing John Major when he took over the Premiership from Margaret Thatcher in 1990. Europe was already a highly divisive issue within the party, but Major was keen to be pragmatic, and less combative than his predecessor. But it cost him dear. Two-and-a-half years later he had twice considered resigning over the issue, faced severe rebellion from his own backbenches and crashed out of membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism amid turmoil on the financial markets on Black Wednesday. But finally the legislation was signed.

Sue MacGregor is joined by two former Chancellors of the Exchequer - Lord, then Norman, Lamont who, after losing his job, became a fierce critic of Government policy, and Kenneth Clarke who replaced him. The guests also include the Government Whip responsible for Europe, David Davies, and Conservative backbencher Sir Bill Cash, a prominent Euro-rebel, as well as John Major's Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs and later the Official Historian on Britain's Relationship with Europe, Sir Stephen Wall.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

New Labour2014091420140919

When Tony Blair delivered the phrase: 'New Labour, New Britain!' to the 1994 party conference, his first as leader, it was the result of a decade of change within the party. Kinnock had rebranded it, introducing the rose as party emblem and had distanced the Labour Party from its far-left factions.

When John Smith came in, he launched the 'Prawn Cocktail Offensive' of the City and tackled the Union block vote, pushing through reform in 1993. His sudden death ushered in a new, young leader, Tony Blair, who swiftly removed the reference in the party's constitution to 'common ownership of the means of production' and New Labour was born.

20 years on, Sue MacGregor brings together some of the key people involved in the New Labour 'Project'.

Peter Mandelson is one of its founding architects. He relaunched the Party under Kinnock, bringing in ad-man Philip Gould with his focus groups and marketing techniques.

Anji Hunter was at Tony Blair's side from 1987 until 2001. Starting as his research assistant, she ran his office when he was Leader of the Opposition, becoming Director of Government Relations for Blair's government in 1997.

Regional Party organizer, Margaret, now Baroness McDonagh, helped expel the so-called 'loony-left' from the party in the 80s, pushed through the changes to Clause 4 and would later become the Labour Party's first female General Secretary.

Margaret Beckett was Deputy Labour Leader under John Smith and shadow Health Secretary under Tony Blair.

Peter Hyman was one of Blair's strategy men and speech-writers; and Sue, now Baroness Nye, kept Neil Kinnock's diary, before becoming Gordon Brown's right-hand woman for the next 18 years.

Producer: Rose de Larrabeiti

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Peter Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream2015050320150508 (R4)

Sue MacGregor reunites cast and creatives to recall how director Peter Brook's revolutionary production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the RSC changed theatre and Shakespeare forever.

On 27th August 1970, an expectant audience arrived at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. Such was the anticipation that the New York Times theatre critic, Clive Barnes, had crossed the Atlantic to join them. He was not to be disappointed. Not only did the performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream receive a resounding standing ovation, it did so at the first interval.

"Once in a while, once in a very rare while," wrote a jubilant Barnes the next day, "a theatrical production arrives that is going to be talked about as long as there is a theatre, a production that, for good or ill, is going to exert a major influence on the contemporary stage...It is a magnificent production."

Although Peter Brook retained the original text, his method of developing the production was far from conventional. Rejecting the notion of 'director's theatre' he urged his actors to let the play 'work through them and do things to them'. He even tested out his ideas on a crowd in a Birmingham social club.

The costumes and scenery were no less radical. Working with designer Sally Jacobs, Brook set the play in a minimalist white space, featuring just two doors at the rear. Actors wore brightly-coloured satin costumes inspired by the Chinese circus and entered on stilts and trapezes.

Sue MacGregor is joined by Peter Brook, designer Sally Jacobs and actors Sir Ben Kingsley (Demetrius), Sara Kestelman (Titania/Hippolyta), Frances de la Tour (Helena) and Barry Stanton (Snug).

Producer: Matt Taylor

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites cast and creatives to explore how director Peter Brook's revolutionary production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the RSC changed theatre and Shakespeare forever.

The costumes and scenery were no less radical. Working in tandem with designer Sally Jacobs, Brook set the play in a minimalist white space, featuring just two doors at the rear. Actors wore brightly-coloured satin costumes inspired by the Chinese circus and entered on stilts and trapezes.

Sue MacGregor is joined by Peter Brook, designer Sally Jacobs and actors Sara Kestelman (who played Titania) and Frances de la Tour (who played Helena).

Pinochet20160501

Sue MacGregor reunites five people involved in the campaign to bring Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet to trial for human rights abuses.

For nearly two decades, General Augusto Pinochet repressed and reshaped Chile. He seized power on September 11th 1973, in a bloody military coup that toppled the Marxist government of President Salvador. He then led the county into an era of robust economic growth, transforming a bankrupt economy into the most prosperous in Latin America. During his rule, however, more than 3,200 people were executed or disappeared, and thousands more were detained, tortured or exiled. Pinochet's name became synonymous with human rights abuses and corruption.

He gave up the presidency in 1990 but held onto the post of commander in chief. Then, in October 1998, in an extraordinary turn of events he was detained in London on a warrant from Spain requesting his extradition on murder charges. It was the first time a former head of state had been arrested based on the principle of universal jurisdiction. The then-British Home Secretary Jack Straw ordered his release on health grounds in 2000, after a controversial medical test stated that Pinochet was not fit to appear before a court, and he returned to Chile a free man that same year.

Joining Sue around the table to look back on Pinochet's arrest and the landmark case that followed are Juan Garces, a former aide to Salvador Allende; the former Home Secretary Jack Straw; and Chilean Judge Juan Guzman, who was personally transformed by the experience of descending into what he called the "abyss" of investigating crimes committed by Pinochet.

Producer: Emily Williams

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Spycatcher2015040520150410 (R4)

Sue MacGregor's guests remember the epic battle to ban the MI5 memoir Spycatcher.

When former MI5 officer Peter Wright tried to publish his memoirs in 1985, Margaret Thatcher's government were determined to stop him. So began an almighty legal battle that cost the taxpayer millions of pounds and ultimately made Spycatcher an international bestseller.

The action played out in courts in Australia and New Zealand, and continued in Britain and Europe as the government tried to stop newspapers printing details that were by now very public knowledge.

The British Cabinet Secretary Sir Robert Armstrong was subjected to a two-week cross-examination in which he admitted being "economical with the truth" when necessary. It soon became clear that what was on trial was not just Peter Wright - but the Official Secrets Act itself. And if you were in Australia, it was also the entire British establishment.

Sir Robert - now Lord Armstrong - joins Sue MacGregor to remember that momentous battle at the end of his career. They are joined by the book's ghostwriter Paul Greengrass, now a director of Hollywood films such as The Bourne Supremacy and Captain Phillips; former MI5 chief Stella Rimington, whose time as Director of Counter-Espionage was "largely dominated" by the case; Brian Perman, Managing Director of the publishers Heinemann; and journalist Richard Norton-Taylor who covered the case for the Guardian.

The programme also includes a contribution from the Australian politician Malcolm Turnbull who, as Peter Wright's lawyer, famously cross-examined the Cabinet Secretary.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Tate Modern20160923

Sue MacGregor brings together a group of artist, curators and directors involved in the early years of Tate Modern, Britain's first national museum of modern art.

The opening of Tate Modern in 2000 was the moment that modern art truly arrived in Britain. Decades of scepticism from critics and the public could have made for shaky foundations but, in the 1990s, public opinion began to change as the likes of the Young British Artists gained rock-star status through the Turner Prize.

When Tate Modern opened its doors, thousands of visitors rushed into the cavernous Turbine Hall. The gallery has since welcomed twice the original visitor projections and regularly tops the list of the most visited art museums in the world.

From a once neglected part of the Thames, the conversion of Bankside Power Station into Tate Modern put London's Southbank on the map, transforming it into a hub for visitors to the capital. In 2016, Tate Modern entered a new stage in its history with the addition of the Switch House, sparking record visitor numbers again.

But Tate Modern has faced scandals along the way. Defining what modern art is for the UK and why the public should care, continues to create controversy and divide the critics.

Sue MacGregor's guests are five people who have defined our engagement with modern art through their work with Tate Modern - Sir Nicholas Serota, the Director of Tate since 1988; Frances Morris, a curator when Tate Modern was founded and now its Director; Dawn Austwick, the Tate Modern project director; artist Michael Craig-Martin, an artist trustee at the time; and Sir Anish Kapoor, the first British artist to create work for the Turbine Hall.

Producer: Katherine Godfrey

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

The Berlin Airlift2014081720140822

At the end of WWII, a defeated Germany was divided amongst the victors - the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France. The capital city Berlin, sitting deep in the Soviet zone, was also divided into four parts.

By 1948 it was apparent that the Western Powers' plans to rebuild Germany differed from those of the Soviet Union. Tensions came to a head on 24th June when, following a series of diplomatic spats, the Soviets closed all roads, railways and waterways into West Berlin. It seemed likely that two and a half million Berliners would starve to death or be forced to accept Soviet domination. It was one of the first incidents of the Cold War.

The Western Allies immediately took to the air, creating what Berliners called a Luftbrucke, an air-bridge, carrying food, coal, medicines and raw materials into the beleaguered city. The operation, which lasted for fifteen months was the largest humanitarian mission in Air Force history.

At the height of the operation, hundreds of planes were in the air around the clock. Their omnipresent roar became a part of daily life. Thousands of workers - Allied and German - supported the airlift effort on the ground. When two airports proved inadequate, Berliners of all walks of life came forward to speed construction of a third.

Sue MacGregor reunites British personnel involved in the operation - including RAF Dakota pilot Dick Arscott, air traffic controller Joyce Hargrave-Wright, flight engineer Alec Chambers, Fred Danckwardt who was head of security at the British airbase Gatow, and Freddie Montgomery who worked in British military intelligence in Berlin.

Producer: Emily Williams

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

The Fastnet Race Disaster20150412

Sue MacGregor reunites five people who experienced the worst disaster in the history of ocean racing - the Fastnet Race of 1979.

It was the race that every ocean going yachtsman aimed to complete at least once in his life-time. A 600 mile course through mercurial tides and dangerous headlands, the Fastnet was the Grand National of ocean racing. In 1979, Former Prime Minister Edward Heath and CNN founder Ted Turner were among the 2,500 competitors.

But as they made good progress around Land's End and up towards the south coast of Ireland, the wind was changing. Described as the storm of the century, Low Y was a depression which swept across the Atlantic gathering force. Fifty foot waves and winds of up to 60 knots took forecasters by surprise and scattered the 300 plus yachts taking part.

Vessels from Holland, France, Ireland and Germany joined British naval and RAF search teams and rescue crews scouring the 20,000 square miles of ocean looking for yachts, life-rafts and bodies.

Unknown terror, selfless bravery and superhuman strength saved most of them, but 15 people perished.

Joining Sue around the table to look back on the wildest and most desperate night in ocean racing history are: Jerry Grayson, the first helicopter pilot sent out to rescue the stricken yachts; Alan Green of the Royal Ocean Yachting Club which organised the race; Nick Ward whose crew-mates abandoned their yacht in a life-raft without him; Christian Schaumloffel who helped rescue Nick; and Stuart Quarrie who was out in the storm with four terrified trainees.

Producer: Karen Pirie

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

The Food Writers2015082320150828 (R4)

Sue MacGregor gathers influential food writers, including Mary Berry and Prue Leith.

Long before the phrase Celebrity Chef, a generation of writers and food experts had a major impact on the way we cooked, ate and thought about food. Mary Berry, Rose Elliot, Prue Leith, Claudia Roden and Katharine Whitehorn join Sue MacGregor to recall the post-war decades of British food.

British food in the 1950s was a "great plain of desolation", according to the first edition of the Good Food Guide. Fourteen years of austerity under rationing had left their mark on both the skill and the imagination of the ordinary home cook. New arrivals Prue Leith and Claudia Roden found British food disgusting, particularly in restaurants and canteens. Both would go on to influence it for the better.

As a younger generation sought an independent life away from home, Katharine Whitehorn's classic survival manual, Cooking in a Bedsitter, guided them through the problems of, "cooking at ground level, in a hurry, with nowhere to put the salad but the washing up bowl, which is in any case full of socks."

Elizabeth David introduced a generation of cooks to the smells, taste and lifestyle of the Mediterranean, spawning a design revolution that allowed consumers to get the look at home. Restaurants introduced lighter, fresher ingredients and updated décor.

As growing numbers of women went out to work, supermarkets and convenience food made life easier for many. Mary Berry taught readers and viewers of the 1970s and 80s how to make the most of their new freezer. Meanwhile, diners were finally discovering vegetarian food was not just "a load of old lentils", as Rose Elliot's books reached a new audience seeking a healthier way of eating.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

The Glastonbury Festival20160828

Billed acts bailed out, naked hippies horrified locals, and Hells Angels provided the security. But even then, Michael Eavis knew that the first Glastonbury Festival, held at his dairy farm in Pilton in 1970, was the start of something that would change his life. Sue MacGregor reunites key players from the early days of the festival.

Now Glastonbury is a British institution and the biggest festival of its kind in the world. It's a rite of passage for any self-respecting teenage music fan and the acme of many musicians' careers.

At the first Pilton Pop, Blues and Folk Festival, The Kinks were booked to headline but cancelled in disgust after reading that they were to appear at "a mini festival". Eavis was delighted when a band called T Rex stepped in to replace them. But a disappointing turn-out left him in the red.

Winston Churchill's debutant turned peacenik granddaughter bankrolled the 1971 "Glastonbury Fayre". Her entourage of Notting Hill hippies lent it a glamorous air, although the organisers still lost money!

Acts in 1971, included Melanie, veteran of Woodstock and the Isle of Wight festivals, the incendiary Arthur Brown whose dark and theatrical stage act countered the hippies' peace and love aesthetic, and flautist Jessica Stanley Clarke's prog band Marsupilami. Jessica's home in Pilton became the negotiating ground between festival organisers and incensed villagers. Jessica, now Jekka McVicar, is an organic herb grower recently appointed vice-president of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Arthur, Jekka and Melanie are reunited with Michael Eavis and Chris Church, who bunked off school to go to the early festivals.

Producer: Karen Pirie

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

The Hit Factory2015041920150424 (R4)

"I had a vision of Motown-type songs with more modern chords and techno, gay, disco rhythms."

When pop impresario Pete Waterman suggested collaborating with song-writers and musicians Matt Aitken and Mike Stock in 1985, they had little idea of what an impact they were going to have on the music industry.

Their musical template included a take on 'HI-NRG', a sound that had been particularly popular in gay clubs of the North of England. Waterman was a frequent DJ at the clubs and was well acquainted with the dance-floor lights that were triggered by the sounds of the particular record being played.

"When one of our records came on, it was louder than the previous one and the lights would go off like fireworks" says Waterman.

'You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)' by Dead or Alive, reached number one in December 1984 and the writing, production and management trio had hits with Bananarama, Donna Summer, and Divine - but their real achievement was in breaking the careers of new artists like Rick Astley, Sonia, Sinitta, and Mel and Kim. The triumph was in spotting that two stars of a cult Australian TV soap could become pop giants. Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue, both together and separately, would go on to top charts around the globe.

Sue MacGregor is joined by Sinitta and Jason Donovan, together with Pete Waterman and recording engineer Phil Harding, to re-live the days when their unique sound ruled the airwaves.

Producer: Emily Williams

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

The Launch Of Private Eye20160904

Sue MacGregor brings together the group of cartoonists and writers responsible for the launch of Private Eye magazine.

On 25th October 1961 a scrappy magazine containing six pages of jokes and cartoons, printed on yellow paper, appeared in coffee shops in London's South Kensington. More than fifty years on Private Eye, is Britain's bestselling current-affairs magazine and copies of the rare first edition, which cost sixpence, are now worth over a thousand pounds.

"In the beginning, if we had an aim, it was to provide an alternative to Punch, which was then like the Bank of England," says the Eye's former editor Richard Ingrams.

Private Eye's early covers had great shock value. Gerald Scarfe made his name there, depicting Harold Macmillan posing naked in the chair associated with Profumo Affair model Christine Keeler. He later drew Harold Wilson kneeling behind Lyndon B Johnson in support of the Vietnam War, pulling down the president's trousers and licking his bottom.

The magazine quickly built a reputation for breaking stories that other papers would not print, taking on the rich and powerful and risking expensive libel actions that threatened to close the magazine down.

Reunited to look back on the launch and development of Private Eye are its two first editors Christopher Booker and Richard Ingrams, long time cartoonists Barry Fantoni and Gerald Scarfe, and publisher Peter Usborne.

Producer: Emily Williams

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

The National Lottery20080413 (BBC7)
20140622 (BBC7)
20140623 (BBC7)

Sue McGregor reunites five people behind Britain's weekly gamble.

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

She explores tales of pressure and accusations of underhand dealings as she gathers together five key players in the foundation of the UK National Lottery.

The Nuclear Submarines2016040320160408 (R4)

Sue MacGregor meets the pioneers of Britain's first nuclear submarines.

Fifty years ago, the first all-British designed nuclear submarine HMS Valiant went into service. Known affectionately as "The Black Pig" for the frequency with which she needed repairs, she featured a revolutionary noise-limiting design that allowed her to hide at sea for long periods, undetected. Valiant paved the way for the Polaris submarines that followed. Based on the Valiant design, they carried Britain's nuclear deterrent underwater for the first time.

Valiant was beaten to sea by another nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought. Although British-built, much of Dreadnought's machinery, including her nuclear reactor, was American - the result of a deal to speed up Britain's nuclear propulsion project and give the Americans a nuclear ally in the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

Nuclear technology revolutionised life at sea. Whereas conventional diesel submarines regularly had to surface in order to recharge their batteries and suck in fresh air, nuclear submarines could stay submerged for months, under their own power and creating their own fresh air. Valiant and her successors embarked on Cold War games of cat and mouse, following Soviet ships, and sliding underneath to photograph their hulls or propellers.

Joining Sue to discuss the building and early days of the first British nuclear submarines are six of the men who designed and worked on them - Admiral Peter (SPAM) Hammersley, David Wixon, John Jacobsen, Bas Bowyer, Harry Brazier and Wally Whymark. They recall the early teething problems, life underwater, and Cold War espionage.

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

The Omagh Bombing2014050420140509

The Omagh bomb was the worst massacre in Northern Ireland's modern history. On Saturday the 15th of August a massive bomb placed by the so-called Real IRA killed two unborn twins, six men, twelve women and eleven children. The dead included Protestants, Catholics and a Mormon. The blast wave was so powerful that the bodies of several victims were never found.

The bombing was "a barbaric act intended to wreck Ireland's aspirations for peace and reconciliation," said President Clinton who came to walk amongst the wreckage. Only four months earlier Northern Ireland's main political parties had signed up to the Good Friday agreement, power sharing was on its way and the Provisional IRA was on ceasefire.

No one has ever been convicted in connection with the massacre at Omagh but in April 2014, Seamus Daly was arrested and charged with 29 counts of murder over the attack.

The 43-year-old bricklayer, originally from Culloville, County Monaghan, but now residing in Jonesborough, County Armagh, also faces counts of causing the explosion in Omagh and possession of a bomb in the County Tyrone market town with intent to endanger life or property.

In this episode of The Reunion, recorded shortly before charges were brought against Daly, Sue MacGregor is joined by Kevin Skelton whose wife Mena was killed by the bomb, Michael Gallagher and Victor Barker whose sons Aiden and James also died, former RUC police constable Richard Scott, and by BBC Northern Ireland's Political Editor Mark Devenport.

Producer: Emily Williams

Series Producer: David Prest

THE REUNION is a Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

The Sun Newspaper2014082420140829

Sue MacGregor reunites journalists working on The Sun newspaper in the 1980s to consider how it revolutionised our news.

In November 1969, the presses rolled on a new tabloid that would change Britain forever. "Does your daily paper bore the pants off you?" asked the television advertisement, "Then wake up with The Sun". The paper was to be a combination of sex, sport and contests - according to its young proprietor Rupert Murdoch. This simple formula had shocked many in his native Australia but made Murdoch a fortune. Fleet Street critics were scathing, but the paper's young working class readership lapped up the scandal.

From day one, The Sun chose sex as the battleground for the coming circulation war with its rivals. Girly pictures were a standard element in tabloids at that time and usually came with spurious fashion features or stories. But The Sun boldly dispensed with those. The regular, topless Page Three features started on the paper's first anniversary.

In the 1980s, with Editor Kelvin Mackenzie at the helm, the paper carved out a position as strident, campaigning, anti-establishment and hugely profitable. His style was epitomised by outrageous headlines such as 'Freddie Starr ate My Hamster', 'Gotcha' after the sinking of the Belgrano and 'It Was The Sun Wot Won It' after the Conservative Party election victory in 1992. Rupert Murdoch referred to him affectionately as "my little Hitler".

Joining Sue around the table to look back on the meteoric rise of the paper are five journalists who were there, including legendary news editor Tom Petrie, Harry Arnold the Royal Correspondent and Wendy Henry who later went on to become editor of the Sun's sister paper The News of the World.

Producer: Emily Williams

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor looks back at the phenomenal rise of the Sun newspaper in the 1980s.

The Yorkshire Ripper Investigation2016082120160826 (R4)

Sue MacGregor meets detectives and a journalist involved in the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, the biggest criminal investigation in British history at the time.

In 1975, a series of murders began in Leeds that would soon stretch to Bradford, Huddersfield, Halifax and Manchester. It would take more than five years for police to finally arrest Peter Sutcliffe, a Bradford lorry driver, whose brutal attacks on women claimed at least 13 lives and left many others permanently injured. The failure to catch the killer attracted widespread criticism.

Four former detectives join Sue MacGregor to remember the investigation. John Domaille was a senior officer who later became Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police; Andy Laptew was a junior detective who interviewed Peter Sutcliffe and flagged him up as a serious suspect, but whose warnings fell on deaf ears; Elaine Benson was a rare female detective who worked in the incident room and interviewed suspects; and David Zackrisson investigated the "Wearside Jack" tape and letters in Sunderland, a disastrous red herring from a man claiming to be the killer that later turned out to be a hoax. Christa Ackroyd was then a local journalist in Halifax, who remembers the impact the killings had on women living in the North of England.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Tv-am20140713 (BBC7)
20140714 (BBC7)

Sue MacGregor reunites some of the men from ITV's first breakfast service.

Sue MacGregor reunites some of the men from ITV's first breakfast service. With Peter Jay, Nick Owen and Greg Dyke. From September 2006.

Wallace And Gromit20141225

- created by Bristol-based animation company Aardman - have entertained millions, made their Plasticine stars national treasures, won multiple Oscars and boosted sales of Wensleydale cheese.

Sue MacGregor is joined by Aardman founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton, producer Carla Shelley, ex-manager Mary Lowance and Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park - as well as the two stars themselves - to recall four decades of comic craft and innovation at Aardman that have left an indelible impression on British cultural life.

Aardman came to prominence with their Plasticine man Morph and went on to create classics, such as Creature Comforts which pioneered the use of real-life interviews as the voices of Aardman's eccentric animal kingdom.

Wallace and Gromit remain firm favourites. Wallace, the eccentric inventor from Wigan who loves cheese, and his silent but very well-read associate, quietly saving the day with a range of facial expressions that have brought comparisons with the great silent star Buster Keaton.

A collaboration with American producers Dreamworks led to the big-budget feature film Chicken Run. And few who saw it will ever forget Wallace's moonlit transformation in The Curse of the Were Rabbit.

Yet there have also been moments of real-life drama, like the huge fire that destroyed many character models, original drawings and sets.

As our guests reveal how they created these extraordinary films and characters, they reflect on the ups and downs of their experiences and look forward to the next chapter of Aardman, Wallace and Gromit, Shaun The Sheep and those characters waiting in the wings.

Produced by David Prest and Peter Curran

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Zimbabwe2014083120140905

Sue MacGregor gathers five people who helped to bring independence to Zimbabwe in 1980.

Sue MacGregor brings together those who played a key role during the bitter wrangling which led to Zimbabwe's independence in April 1980.

Rhodesia was Britain's last colony in Africa. By the early 1960s, 200,000 white settlers still dominated the country's three million black population. In 1965, civil war broke out between the white Rhodesian forces and the guerrilla armies of the two rival black nationalist parties, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU).

Over the next fifteen years, the war escalated as the nationalist movement gained massive momentum.

When Margaret Thatcher came into power in 1979, she inherited the crisis. To the surprise of many she called for all-party negotiations which would lead to the first independent elections. It was her Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, who devised a plan and persuaded the various parties to negotiate.

What followed was three months of nerve wracking talks. "Every moment of those talks I thought the whole thing might fall apart," recalls Lord Carrington. By the skin of their teeth, an agreement was signed and, in February 1980, polling opened which would lead to a landslide victory for Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party and independence for a newly named Zimbabwe.

Sue is joined by Lord Carrington, former Conservative Foreign Secretary; Dumiso Dabengwa who was head of intelligence for the military wing of ZAPU; Dzingai Mutumbuka, the youngest member of the ZANU-PF delegation; Dennis Norman who was President of the Rhodesia National Farmers' Union; and historian and Africa correspondent Martin Meredith.

Producer: Sarah Cuddon

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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.

0404World Cup 19662006042320060426
20140502 (R4)

Even if you weren't there, or watching it on television, even if you weren't born on the 30th July 1966, it's a date etched on the heart of every England football fan. It's the day England, at Wembley, after progressing through a tournament full of controversy, excitement and some extraordinary upsets, won the World Cup.

Inside the stadium were almost 94,000 fans. On television, the audience was 400 million. Watching it now, it seems somehow more than four decades away. It's not just the grainy black and white film - it's the cropped hair and short shorts of the players, the lack of logos on the England shirts - just three heraldic lions; it's also the measured, understated commentary of Kenneth Wolstenholme, all on his own throughout the match.

The goals, when they came, produced little jumping about and no hysteria - it was more a case of a rather satisfied jig. When Bobby Moore took the trophy from the Queen and held it up for the crowd to see, he didn't forget to wipe his hands first. It was, without doubt, England's greatest sporting victory.

In this episode of The Reunion, originally transmitted in 2006, Sue MacGregor gathers five men - three of them players - who made that day so extraordinary.

Hat-trick goal scorer Sir Geoff Hurst, and his fellow West Ham player Martin Peters; George Cohen, known as Mr. Dependable, who played for Fulham; the man in charge of BBC television's coverage of the match, Alan Weeks; and one of the all important admin men - the team liaison manager for the London matches throughout the tournament, Alan Leather.

Producer: Chris Green

Series Producer: David Prest.

THE REUNION is a Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue Macgregor reunites Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and George Cohen from England's 1966 World Cup winning squad, with BBC commentator Alec Weeks and team liaison officer Alan Leather.

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.

06011958 - The Last Debutantes2007040820070413
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20140721 (BBC7)

The end of a British institution - the Debutantes. Sue MacGregor reunites society girls, now in their 60s and 70s. From April 2007.

Sue MacGregor reunites society girls, now in their 60s and 70s.

This programme features five former debutantes who made their entry into society in 1958.

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
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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
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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
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20140901 (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.

Sue MacGregor reunites the crew of HMS Troutbridge. With Leslie Phillips, June Whitfield.

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

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.

0903Hitler Diaries 19832008090720080912
20140601 (BBC7)
20140602 (BBC7)

Sue MacGregor reunites some of the people involved in the 1983 Hitler Diaries hoax.

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

She brings together some of those involved in the publication of the Hitler Diaries in 1983, which were subsequently shown to be a hoax.

This didn't stop Rupert Murdoch giving it his full backing, or Sir Trevor Roper endorsing it - at least at first. Notorious forger Kujau managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the Western media, even though the factual basis for his hoax withstood even less scrutiny than the so-called Mussolini Diaries of previous years.

Even controversial historian David Irving was not taken in - and along with journalist Gerd Hiedemann, Magnus Linklater and Philip Knightley he discusses how the 'coup' was acquired and how it fell apart. From 2008

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

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
20170408 (BBC7)
20170409 (BBC7)

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.

Sue MacGregor brings together some of the original members of the National Theatre.

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

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.

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
20140824 (BBC7)
20140825 (BBC7)

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
20140706 (BBC7)
20140707 (BBC7)

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
20140511 (BBC7)
20140512 (BBC7)

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)
20140811 (BBC7)

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
20140727 (BBC7)
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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.

170160s Girl Singers2012081920120824
20140615 (BBC7)
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In this edition of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor reunites five women whose pop success helped make the sixties swing.

When people think about the music of the sixties, generally they think of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but the girl singers of the period were also highly successful and important. In the UK alone, Cilla Black had seventeen top forty hits, Dusty Springfield and Sandie Shaw had fifteen and Petula Clark had thirteen. This doesn't include the success they all enjoyed abroad: these girls were international stars having hits all over Europe and in the United States.

But success did not always bring happiness and, for many of the girl singers of the period, there were major lows alongside the dizzying highs. The sixties may have been swinging, but it wasn't an easy time for the women of the period who, as well as having to navigate the vagaries of a career in show business, often found themselves the focus of enormous attention from the media and the public. It wasn't always welcome. The gulf between their public lives and their private lives was sometimes huge.

Joining Sue MacGregor is: Petula Clark, the child star of the 1940s whose career went stratospheric in the 1960s; Sandie Shaw, the barefoot pop princess who won the Eurovision Song Contest; Helen Shapiro, Britain's first teen pop star who was supported by The Beatles, Jackie Trent, singer and songwriter who wrote hits for Petula Clark, Scott Walker and many others; and Vicki Wickham, the legendary producer of Ready Steady Go who went on to manage Dusty Springfield.

Producer: Brian McCluskey

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Sue MacGregor reunites five women who ruled the world of pop in the 1960s.

1702Ugandan Asians2012082620120831

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.

1801Doctor Who2013040720130412

Fifty years on, Sue MacGregor reunites the founding cast and crew of Doctor Who.

Sue MacGregor reunites five people who created and starred in the first series of a television landmark, Doctor Who. Fifty years later, those who crammed nervously into the BBC's Lime Grove Studios in 1963 recount the triumphs and disasters that ushered in the longest running science-fiction series in the world.

When Canadian TV executive Sydney Newman was drafted in to revitalise the BBC Drama department in the early 1960's, his idea for an ageing time-traveller who would illuminate both human history and Alien civilisations struggled to be successfully realised.

After a number of other directors refused to work on the project, a 24 year-old Waris Hussein took the job. The only Indian-born director within the BBC at that time, he felt the stern gaze of the 'old order' upon his work.

The first episode was recorded on the day President Kennedy was assassinated and transmitted the next day, despite concerns that the show might be postponed.

Doctor Who was played by the British actor William Hartnell. His sharp, sometimes grumpy demeanour came out of his increasing difficulty in learning the scripts, but the audience immediately took him to their hearts and the series had nearly six million viewers by Christmas.

Joining Sue MacGregor is Waris Hussein, the director of the episode, Carole Ann Ford who played the Doctor's granddaughter and companion Susan, William Russell who played the Doctor's right hand man Ian Chesterton, actor Jeremy Young who was the first Doctor Who enemy Caveman Kal, and television presenter Peter Purves who travelled with William Hartnell in the mid 60's as companion Steven Taylor.

Produced by Peter Curran

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

1802King's Cross Fire2013041420130419

Sue MacGregor brings together five people who were profoundly affected by the Kings Cross Fire in London, in which 31 people died and many others suffered physical and psychological scarring.

It's 25 years since the publication of a damning report on the fire - the worst in the history of the London Underground. Tony Ridley, had been managing director of the service for five years. His success in reversing a long decline in use of the underground was overshadowed by accusations of a blind spot over passenger safety, particularly over wooden escalators.

Law lecturer Sophie Tarrasenko was travelling to King Cross that evening in November 1987. She was forced to get off at an earlier stop because of a fire. It was not until the next day that she learned that her brother had been killed in the blaze. She went on to set up a Family Support Group to improve treatment of bereaved families.

Kwasi Afari Minta was the most badly burned of the survivors. The musician from Ghana sustained terrible burns to his face and endured numerous operations during his six months in hospital. He lost his battle for compensation and now survives on benefits.

Steve Heather was a leading firefighter that night. He remembers being completely disorientated while struggling in intense heat and pitch black. He also lost a close colleague, station officer Colin Townsley.

Lindsay Taylor was a reporter for London radio station LBC and always carried his recording equipment with him. By chance, he was travelling through Kings Cross when fire broke out. He spent most of the next 48 hours there documenting events as well as reporting on the subsequent memorial service and compensation battles.

Producer: Karen Pirie

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

1803Coronation Maids2013042120130426

When Britain's 27-year-old newly crowned Queen emerged from Westminster Abbey on June 2 1953, she was flanked by her Maids of Honour: six of the country's most blue-blooded young women, all single, beautiful and, like the Queen, wearing gowns by Hartnell.

According to Lady Glenconner, then 20-year-old Lady Anne Coke, daughter of the Earl of Leicester, they were seen as the Spice Girls of their day.

The Maids' wardrobes and social lives were gossip-column fodder, and sometimes even front-page news, from the moment their identities were revealed until the day of the Coronation. In their New Look suits and demure hats and heels they would be endlessly photographed as the nation, still in the grip of post-war austerity, hungered for some light relief.

Queen Elizabeth followed a precedent set by Queen Victoria by having Maids of Honour instead of pages to bear her Coronation train. It was their duty to unfurl the cumbersome train as she alighted from the Gold State Coach outside Westminster Abbey and hold it aloft using six silk handles invisibly stitched into its underside.

'Ready, girls?' the Monarch asked her attendants as they paused at the Abbey doors to begin their historic procession to the altar.

Now, 60 years on from that historic day they join Sue MacGregor in The Reunion.

Producer: Emily Williams

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

1804The Centre For Alternative Technology2013042820130503

Sue MacGregor reunites the pioneers behind The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), the radical community that launched the Green Movement in Britain from a disused slate quarry in Machynlleth, Wales.

Led by an entrepreneurial aristocrat turned environmentalist, a group of self-declared 'Crazy Idealists' arrived at 'The Quarry' in 1973 with an urgent mission. The limits to growth and resources had been forecast, the nuclear threat was real, and fundamentally new ways of living had to be found that were more self-sufficient, locally-focused, and alternative to the assumptions of modern industrial society.

From humble beginnings as a tiny commune sidelined by the scientific establishment, CAT went on to build some of Britain's first ever electricity generating windmills and the largest solar roof in Europe. They attracted the patronage of the royal family, the suspicions and support of their local Welsh neighbours, and the interest of tens of thousands of visitors. Forty years on, the alternatives that CAT pioneered are becoming mainstream, and the Centre's work is more relevant than ever.

Joining Sue MacGregor are: Mark Matthews, the Centre's first director; architect Roderick James, who designed the first complex of buildings; Bob Todd, the Centre's pioneering technical expert; Liz Todd, Bob's wife and an early volunteer, who raised her young family on the site; and Des Rees, the Welsh builder who unexpectedly found himself immersed in The Quarry's unique way of life.

Producer: Patrick Sykes

Series Producer: David Prest

The Reunion is a Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

1805 LASTThe Hutton Inquiry2013050520130510

Sue MacGregor's guests recall the Hutton Inquiry and the BBC's bitter row with government.

On 29 May 2003, the Today programme broadcast a report criticising the government's use of intelligence in the lead up to war with Iraq.

At the heart of the report was the allegation that Number 10 had "sexed up" an intelligence dossier to make a more convincing case for war. More specifically, that the government probably knew that one of the key claims in the dossier was wrong before they put it in: the claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that could be "ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them".

The government, and specifically Director of Communications, Alastair Campbell, were furious. The row that followed was one of the bitterest in BBC history, and was fuelled in part by the death of the story's source, government scientist, David Kelly. The Hutton Inquiry was set up to establish what went wrong and exposed the inner workings of the BBC, secret services, civil service and government machinery. Its findings, when published in January 2004, caused reverberations throughout the British establishment.

Sue MacGregor reunites some of the people who were caught up in that row: Andrew Gilligan, the Today programme reporter whose broadcast was the cause of the argument; Geoff Hoon, Defence Secretary, who was accused of leaking David Kelly's name as the source of the story; Tom Kelly, who as Tony Blair's spokesman was at the heart of the storm and Greg Dyke, who resigned as Director General when Hutton's conclusions were so critical of the BBC.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon and Kate Taylor

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

1901Goodness Gracious Me2013081820130823

Sue MacGregor reunites the creators of the British Asian sketch show Goodness Gracious Me.

In this episode of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor brings together the creators of the British Asian sketch show Goodness Gracious Me.

The comedy show debuted on BBC Radio 4 in the summer of 1996. It was the first venture conceived, written and performed by British Asians. The title 'Goodness Gracious Me' was inspired by the Peter Sellers song from the film The Millionairess, in which he plays an Indian doctor.

The series poked fun at British and Indian stereotypes and at the tensions between Asian culture and modern British life. One of the most iconic sketches - 'Going for an English' - featured a group of Asians going out for an English meal and mispronouncing everything on the menu. This reversing of experiences was a hallmark of the show.

There was a growing confidence amongst a new generation of British Asians in the 1990s. Asian culture was at the forefront of the youth scene and there was a feeling amongst many in broadcasting that it was time the Asian community had their own TV series. At the BBC, multi-cultural programming was becoming integral to the schedule and yet doubts remained about whether mainstream audiences would tap into something which focussed on one ethnicity.

However after an award winning run on the radio, Goodness Gracious Me moved to BBC 2 where it continued to attract huge audiences for three more series, giving birth to a new genre - "Asian Comedy".

Sue is joined around the table by: Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar, who wrote and starred in the series; Anil Gupta, the producer who first pitched the idea to the BBC; Jon Plowman, then the BBC's head of comedy and entertainment and Richard Pinto the comedy writer who helped develop the idea.

Producer: Sarah Cuddon

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

1902Lib Lab Pact2013082520130830

Sue MacGregor reunites five key players involved in the Lib Lab pact of the late 1970s.

The 1970s are still remembered as a tremendously difficult time for Britain - rocketing inflation, crippling industrial unrest, record unemployment, IRA bombings and fuel shortages.

In 1976, Harold Wilson's shock resignation put Jim Callaghan at the helm of a Labour Government doggedly holding on to power with a tiny majority. Deaths, defections and disappearances quickly turned that thin majority into a minority.

The Government was on the brink of being uprooted by a Vote of No Confidence, tabled by an eager leader of the opposition, Margaret Thatcher. The equally eager and ambitious new leader of the Liberals was David Steel. When he offered the Government the support of his tiny band, Callaghan was forced to accept.

The result was the Lib Lab Pact which, its architects and supporters claimed, helped stabilise the Government and the country. But critics say the deal split both parties. Close aids of Steel were shocked at how he had capitulated to Callaghan's lack of commitment on key issues like electoral reform. And Tony Benn was instructed to resign after whipping up dissent among disgruntled Labour colleagues.

Sue MacGregor reunites some of the key people involved in the deal: David Steel then the new leader of a Liberal Party still reeling from the Jeremy Thorpe scandal; Tom McNally, one of Callaghan's closest aids; Michael White, now deputy editor of The Guardian, then a political sketch writer; Roy Hattersley, then a Labour Cabinet minister; and Alan Beith, then a Liberal Party whip.

Producer: Karen Pirie

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

1903The Kennedy Assassination2013090120130906

In the 100th edition, from Dallas, Sue MacGregor and guests recall the JFK assassination.

On the 22nd of November 1963, President John F. Kennedy was campaigning in Texas. That morning, Air Force One touched down at Dallas Love Field Airport. The President and First Lady waved to jubilant crowds that watched the motorcade move through downtown Dallas.

In Dealey Plaza, Kennedy was shot in the head by an assassin's bullet. Less than half an hour after the shooting, 75 million Americans had heard the news. President Kennedy was declared dead at 1pm, Dallas time.

Within three chaotic days, three murders rocked the city of Dallas. After President Kennedy, police officer J.D. Tippit was shot and killed by the assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, who himself was later fatally shot on live television.

In this special 100th edition of The Reunion recorded in Dallas, Sue MacGregor reunites five people who were intimately connected to the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination: Clint Hill, the former Secret Service agent who frantically climbed up the back of the presidential limousine as the shots rang out; Gayle Newman, who stood with her young family in Dealey Plaza and became one of the closest eyewitnesses; Hugh Aynesworth, then of the Dallas Morning News, who reported on the events in November 1963, Kenneth Salyer, who was part of the medical team at Parkland Hospital, desperately trying to revive the President; and James Leavelle, retired Dallas Homicide Detective, who was famously handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot by Jack Ruby.

Producer: Colin McNulty

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

1904Jersey Occupation2013090820130913

On the 1st July 1940, Jersey was occupied by German forces. Some called it "the Model Occupation" - a taster of what might actually happen across the country if Hitler was successful in his plans to invade Britain.

Churchill's government had decided the Channel islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark, were of no strategic importance and would be very difficult to defend and so, just a couple of weeks before, all troops had been withdrawn from the islands. The islanders were instructed to surrender to the German army. Hitler's forces were in occupation from July 1940 until the war ended in May 1945.

These were hard years for both the occupiers and the occupied. Food was scarce and, although acts of resistance were limited, the justice was harsh when it was meted out. Those who lived on the island were faced with a complex crisis of conscience - how should they live with the enemy?

In this edition of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor reunites a group of Jersey people who endured that difficult time, finding out how they look back on it seventy years on: Bob Le Sueur, a young insurance clerk at the time, who helped Russian prisoners hide from their German Captors; Leo Harris, a teenager at the beginning of the war, who carried out acts of 'boys own' resistance; Michael Ginns, who found himself in an internment camp in Bavaria; Hazel Lakeman, who was also taken off the island and interned in terrible conditions; and John Floyd, one of the few Jersey residents who actually managed to escape from the island.

Producer: Kevin Dawson

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

1905 LASTSpare Rib2013091520130920

Sue MacGregor reunites five people involved in the birth of Spare Rib magazine.

By the early 1970s, the idealism of the 60s was fading for many of the women involved in the counter-culture. They were left with a increasing realisation that, while the men might be building a new age, they would still be expected to make the tea and do the housework.

Although the Women's Liberation Movement was growing, a woman still needed her husband or father's permission to get a mortgage, women were barred from visiting Wimpy bars after midnight (on the assumption they must be prostitutes)and at the BBC female employees were strongly discouraged from wearing trousers.

Into this world burst Spare Rib, a women's magazine with a difference. As well as talking about fashion and food, it was packed with articles on women's rights, domestic violence, working conditions, sexuality... and a column called Spare Parts told readers how to put up their own shelves and mend their own shoes. An early reader offer was a purple dishcloth emblazoned with the words: "First you sink into his arms, then your arms end up in his sink". Unlike the mainstream magazines of the day, it discussed life, not "lifestyle".

In this edition of the Reunion, Sue MacGregor brings together five of the women who created Spare Rib. Among them are editors Marsha Rowe and Rosie Boycott, Angela Phillips who took the photographs, including the first carefully constructed cover shot, and Anna Raeburn who wrote the advice column. The ground-breaking magazine they produced was to outlast most other titles of the so-called underground alternative press, and change the lives of those who read and wrote for it.

Produced By Kate Taylor

Series Producer David Prest

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

19XMASThe Fast Show20131225

The first episode of The Fast Show in 1994 had twenty seven sketches in just half an hour. Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse, former writers for Harry Enfield, created a concept which re-invigorated the sketch show format and crammed it with catch-phrases.

In this special Christmas night edition of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor brings the cast back together to reflect on the series which launched their careers.

Higson and Whitehouse recruited young stand-up comedians whose worked they liked, such as Caroline Aherne , John Thomson , Simon Day and Felix Dexter, alongside actors such as Mark Williams and Paul Shearer. This process involved each 'auditioning' their proposed character in front of the ensemble.

Competitive Dad, the obscene Suits You tailors, Jazz Club, Does My Bum Look Big in This?, and the touching repressed romance of Ted and Ralph, scored a very high strike rate for introducing catchphrases and comedy characters to schools and work places around the country.

Some characters prompted spin-offs, such as Swiss Tony (Higson) the coiffed car salesman who compares everything to 'making love to a beautiful woman', and football pundit Ron Manager (Whitehouse).

We also hear from collaborators such as Kathy Burke, Harry Enfield, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, as well as TV critic Matthew Norman who wrote a famously fierce review of the first series.

Producer: Peter Curran

Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

2001The Miners' Strike2014040620140411

When five hundred Yorkshire miners at Cortonwood Colliery downed tools on 5th March 1984, they set in train events that would lead to the longest and most bitter industrial dispute in British history.

The Miners' Strike that followed would set miner against miner and transform quiet pit communities into battlefields, as thousands of riot police attempted to defend the right to work. The next twelve months of strife would plunge many families into poverty and place a tremendous burden on the country's Exchequer.

On one side of the dispute was the National Union of Mineworkers - victorious over Edward Heath in 1974 and led by the charismatic militant, Arthur Scargill.

Arraigned against them was Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, buoyed by electoral triumph and fully prepared to defend their new vision for Britain against what the Prime Minister called 'the shock troops of the hard left'.

The Miners' Strike still bitterly divides opinion and the legacy of the strike remains a matter of fierce debate between government and miners, and even within the Union itself.

Thirty years on from the start of the strike, those divided by the picket line join Sue MacGregor in The Reunion.

Kim Howells was research officer for the South Wales NUM, Mel Hepworth worked at Askern pit near Doncaster and became a flying picket for much of the strike, Barbara Jackson was one of the organisers of Sheffield Women Against Pit Closures. Ken Clarke was a Health Minister during the strike and his Nottinghamshire constituency included the Cotgrave Colliery, and Bill King of Bedfordshire Police led Police Support Units at the height of the strike.

Producer: Jerome Lyte

Series Producer: David Prest

2002Four Weddings And A Funeral2014041320140418

In spite of its largely unknown cast, a promiscuous leading female character, a tragic death and a tiny budget, Four Weddings and a Funeral is still one of the most successful British films ever made.

It's 20 years since it opened in Britain - making household names of its stars, and taking an estimated $250 million worldwide.

The project was on the back burner for years as the determined and faithful production team tried desperately to raise enough money to make it work. The script went through more than 17 re-writes and dozens of actors were auditioned and rejected until exactly the right people were found to play the leading roles.

During filming, actors were collected one-by-one across London to save money on individual cars. Aristocrats (who owned their own morning suits) were hired as extras for the wedding scenes and US movie star Andie MacDowell was convinced into accepting a lowly fee, all to ensure that the film came in on budget.

Even after filming was complete, in just six weeks, both the film's leading man Hugh Grant and director Mike Newell believed it would flop. No-one anticipated that it would in fact be a box office smash in the US, and around the globe, and win five Baftas. It also succeeded in catapulting the poetry of W.H. Auden to the top of the best-sellers list.

Twenty years on, Mike Newell, writer Richard Curtis, producer Duncan Kenworthy and actors Kristin Scott Thomas and James Fleet are reunited to relive a landmark experience for them all.

Producer: Karen Pirie

Series Producer: David Prest

2003Life On Earth2014042020140425

Life on Earth was the first natural history blockbuster on television. Written and narrated by David Attenborough, it told the story of evolution in thirteen weekly instalments, stunning viewers with incredible underwater photography, and astonishing close-ups of creatures never before seen on British screens.

Broadcast in 1979, it took three years to make and involved a staggering one and a half million miles of travel. Viewers were exposed to more than 650 different species of animal, in a survey of life from bacteria to man and all in between.

In The Reunion, Sir David Attenborough is reunited with some of the team he worked with on the series. Richard Brock produced the popular episode on amphibians featuring extraordinary varieties of frog: one whose young emerge from under the skin on its back and another whose male incubates the eggs in his vocal sac, ultimately giving birth through his mouth. Assistant producer Mike Salisbury recalls the difficulties filming lions in Tanzania that eventually resulted in a groundbreaking depiction of a lion-hunt.

The most enduring sequence in the series was David Attenborough's astonishing encounter with gorillas in the mountains of Rwanda, frequently voted one of the top TV moments of all time. He and cameraman Martin Saunders reminisce about the extraordinary experience they had.

Pam Jackson and Jane Wales, the producer's assistants who planned the incredibly complex filming schedules describe what was happening behind the scenes, and their attempts to keep their presenter looking presentable even while scrambling through wild jungle.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

Series Producer: David Prest

THE REUNION is a Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.