On Night Waves tonight, Rana Mitter talks to the acclaimed historian Tom Holland about his new book, Millennium, which tells the extraordinary story of Western Europe's ascendancy and the forging of Christendom. In 1000AD, out of the many empires which existed, Western Europe seemed the unlikeliest candidate for future greatness. In contrast to Byzantium or Islam, many Christian kingdoms across Europe appeared impoverished. But the following two centuries did not bring the end of the world, as many Christians feared, but rather the birth of a new order. Tonight Tom Holland explains to Rana Mitter how Europe's distinctive culture was born during this crucial period, the age of William the Conqueror, of Vikings, of the invention of knighthood, and of the primal conflict between church and state.
Also tonight: Rana is joined by the television critic Alkarim Jivani to give the verdict on a 21st century update of a seminal TV documentary. Channel 4’s The Family uses the latest camera technology to track the the private life of an average British family, a format pioneered by Paul Watson in his landmark TV series of the same name in 1974. How have the intervening years and the advent of reality television impacted upon this kind of programme?
Plus: A chance to hear a `free thought’ from the scientist Dr Susan Greenfield in the run-up to Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival next month, and a review of The Wave, a German film based on a real-life story of a classroom experiment which went horribly wrong.