Original BBC documentary storytelling, bringing award-winning journalism, unheard voices, amazing culture and “unputdownable” audio. Recommendation: our mini-series, Three Million, about the Bengal famine of 1943. New episodes every week from The Documentary, Assignment, Heart and Soul, In the Studio and OS Conversations.

The Documentary Podcast – including the Three Million mini-series BBC World Service

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Bonus: Hardtalk - Defying Putin

Russian authorities have announced the death of one of the country’s most significant opposition leaders Alexey Navalny in a remote penal colony in the Arctic Circle. Stephen Sackur spoke to him in Moscow in 2017 about the risks involved in being a prominent critic of President Putin.

BBC OS Conversations: Ukraine war babies and returning home

It is two years since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The war has claimed tens of thousands of lives, left millions of Ukrainians as refugees, and wrought much destruction. When your home is invaded and everything is shattered and turned upside down, what happens to your life? Host James Reynolds hears from three women in Ukraine who, despite the dangers of war, chose to have a baby. At the start of the war, millions of women and children escaped to safety abroad. With the passing of time, some have decided to return. Three of those women come together to discuss their decisions to go back home.

Three Million: 5. Ghosts

The Bengal Famine, particularly the experiences of people in the rural areas who suffered the most, is not well remembered today. There is no memorial, museum, or plaque to the victims or survivors anywhere in the world. One man has made it his life’s work to record their testimonies with paper and pen. Kavita hears from him, and tries to understand more about why the three million people who perished aren’t better remembered or memorialised in India, Bangladesh and Britain. Presenter: Kavita Puri Series producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Emma Rippon Sound design and mix: Eloise Whitmore Production coordinators: Maria Ogundele and Sabine Schereck Original music: Felix Taylor With thanks to Dr Janam Mukherjee and Professor Joya Chatterji

Three Million: 4. The tapes

Kavita Puri discovers a set of cassette tapes containing rare interviews with Indian civil servants who were on the ground across Bengal during the famine, shedding new light on colonial responsibility. And as the need for relief in Bengal becomes ever greater, more pressure is put on the British government from India’s new Viceroy. He asks for more food imports. Could the War Cabinet and Prime Minister Winston Churchill have done more to help alleviate the famine in the middle of the war? Presenter: Kavita Puri Series producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Emma Rippon Sound design and mix: Eloise Whitmore Production coordinators: Maria Ogundele and Sabine Schereck Original music: Felix Taylor With thanks to Dr Janam Mukherjee and Professor Joya Chatterji Interviews conducted by Lance Brennan courtesy of University of Cambridge Interviews with GS Khosla courtesy of University of Cambridge

Three Million: 3. The f-word

Colonial authorities wanted to censor the famine. They were worried that Britain’s wartime enemies - the Germans and the Japanese - would use it as propaganda against them. But as more and more starving people arrive in cities across Bengal, it becomes harder to suppress. Indian writers, photographers and artists document the humanitarian catastrophe, but it was risky, as the censor forbade mention of the famine. A British journalist and editor of the English language Statesman newspaper, in Calcutta, decides to challenge the censor and begins publishing photographs and scathing editorials about what was really going on in Bengal. It shocks the world. In London, the BBC reports on “famine conditions” and, as we uncover, the British government tries to pressurise the broadcaster to tone down its coverage. Presenter: Kavita Puri Series producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Emma Rippon Sound design and mix: Eloise Whitmore Production coordinators: Maria Ogundele and Sabine Schereck Original music: Felix Taylor With thanks to Dr Janam Mukherjee, Professor Joya Chatterji and Dr Diya Gupta

Three Million: 2. The cigarette tin

A boy decides how much rice he can give from a cigarette tin to hungry people. A Christian missionary sets up a makeshift relief hospital. A small child watches through the gates of his house in Calcutta as emaciated women clutching children ask for food. As the food crisis deepens, shocking testimonies from the countryside show the extent of starvation. Many thousands of hungry people begin moving from the rural areas towards the cities. Indians - including children - are forced into life-or-death decisions. Presenter: Kavita Puri Series producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Emma Rippon Sound design and mix: Eloise Whitmore Production coordinators: Maria Ogundele and Sabine Schereck Original music: Felix Taylor With thanks to Dr Janam Mukherjee, Professor Joya Chatterji and Dr Diya Gupta. Interview with Alan McLeod courtesy of the University of Cambridge

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COMMENTS

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  16. BBC World Service

    Famine grips Bengal, but publicly, no-one is calling it a famine. A British journalist decides to take on the censor. What he publishes shocks the world. Show more Colonial authorities wanted to ...

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