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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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BBC Radio marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with a season of specially commissioned programmes

This autumn BBC Radio will broadcast an array of programmes marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, one of the most potent symbols of the Cold War.

The season begins on 5 October when, following the success of his landmark Sony Award-winning series 1968: Day-By-Day, Sir John Tusa returns to BBC Radio 4 with 1989: Day-By-Day. Blending archive and music, the series transports listeners back to the momentous events of that year. He will also chair 1989: How The Wall Fell, featuring key political players from behind the scenes.

BBC Radio's season includes documentaries, discussion and analysis examining the political, cultural and social implications as 40 years of communism was shaken off.

In 1989: Simpson Returns, the BBC's Foreign Affairs Editor John Simpson returns to Germany, Prague and Bucharest to talk to some of the people he met during his time reporting on the momentous event (Radio 4, 6 October); Jeremy Vine presents his Radio 2 show live from Berlin (9 November), talking to people who experienced life behind the Wall, and hearing their memories of the day it fell; and Radio 3's Night Waves comes live from Berlin where it hosts probing cultural discussion with a roundtable of writers, journalists and artists (9 November) followed by four themed essays by Night Waves' correspondent Michael Goldfarb, reflecting on the events of 1989 (10-14 November).

In a unique commission for Radio 4, three of Germany's finest award-winning feature makers come together to tell three stories on the changing face of Germany since 1989. In 1989: A German Story, Jens Jarisch, Thomas Franke and Helmut Kopetzky each give very different views on the old and new Germany in three distinctive programmes for Radio 4.

There is also drama, including, David Edgar's play 1989: The Shape Of The Table, which premiered at the National Theatre a year after the breaching of the Berlin Wall and now, in a reworked version by the author specially for Radio 4, stars Tim McInnerny and Henry Goodman.

Other highlights include 1989: Restitching The City (Radio 4, 24 November), in which Rosie Goldsmith investigates how Berliners rebuilt the infrastructure of their city following reunification.

In 1989: Writing On The Wall, Anne McElvoy introduces three writers associated with East Germany's literary scene, and in 1989: The '89 Generation she talks to British politicians to discover what impact the revolutions of 1989 had in shaping the political world view they now use to govern us. Contributors include David Willetts, Eric Pickles, Ken Livingstone, David Miliband, Nick Clegg and others.

Also on BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine presents The Day The Wall Fell (3 November), a documentary on the history of the Wall which speaks to those who lived on both sides and visits some key locations in the Wall's history.

And in How David Hasselhoff Brought Down The Wall (10 November), Richard Herring irreverently intertwines the fall of communism with the rise of David Hasselhoff, a potent force in German popular culture ever since he performed his single Looking For Freedom on top of the Berlin Wall.

On BBC Radio 3 in November there is extensive coverage from a cultural perspective. Music Matters is broadcast live from Berlin and traces the city's musical life since the Wall's fall, revealing stiff competition for funding and artistic rivalry among its many orchestras; while Radio 3's Hear And Now (6 November) explores the reasons Berlin is a continuing magnet for cutting-edge musicians.

The Sunday Feature: The Muse Of Censorship (8 November) broadens the theme and examines the artistic landscape of other East European cities, talking to a variety of writers, theatre practitioners, film people and visual artists about how they have absorbed the communist past into their work post 1989.

Radio 3's The Essay: The World Turned Upside Down has writers and artists from the former Warsaw Pact nations reflecting on the changing meaning of clocks, cameras, vegetables, telephones and contraceptives – objects which are hugely revealing of the wider transformations that have reshaped cultural and social life in Eastern Europe since 1989.

In Words &Music (8 November) there is Strauss, Mendelssohn, Schoenberg and Bach as well as Eisler and Weill and readings from, among others, Gunter Grass and Joseph Roth.

Drama On 3 (7 November) presents a classic of Soviet theatre, The Promise by Alexei Arbuzo, and Afternoon On 3 (9-13 November) takes 'revolution' as its theme and broadcasts the performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony conducted by Leonard Bernstein in Berlin in 1989 in which the word "freiheit" (freedom) was substituted for the usual "freude" (joy).

Jazz On 3 (9 November) will feature a special session – recorded in Berlin – featuring trumpeter and Radio 3 New Generation Artist Tom Arthurs, while Jazz Line-Up (8 November) takes in the German big band scene.

Notes to Editors

Radio 4 '1989' programmes

5 October – 1989: Day-By-day (this will broadcast daily for three months with an omnibus edition every Sunday at 11.00pm)
6 October – 1989: Simpson Returns (three-part series)
6 October – 1989: Writing On The Wall
27 October – 1989: How The Wall Fell
3 November – 1989: A German Story
7 November – 1989: The Shape Of The Table by David Edgar
23 November – 1989: The '89 Generation
24 November – 1989: Restitching The City

Radio 3 '1989' programmes

6 November – Hear And Now
7 November – Drama On 3: The Promise by Alexei Arbuzov
8 November – Sunday Feature: The Muse Of Censorship
8 November – Words And Music
8 November – Jazz Line-Up
9 November – Performance On 3
9 November – Night Waves from Berlin
10-12 November – Night Waves: Themed Letters
9-13 November – Afternoon On 3
9-13 November – The Essay: The World Turned Upside Down

Radio 2 '1989' programmes

3 November – The Day The Wall Fell
9 November – Jeremy Vine Show
10 November – How David Hasselhoff Brought Down The Wall

Radio 2, 3 and 4 Publicity

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