Before I listened to this episode of In Our Time I had no idea that the American Civil War had caused hardship to so many people in Britain. The cessation of cotton imports from the Southern USA after war broke out led to the cotton mills in Lancashire shutting down, and several hundred thousand of people became unemployed. And yet the directly affected workers were still overwhelmingly on the side of the Northern USA, and for the ending of slavery.
Cleopatra: A Timewatch Guide was on BBC4 back in February as part of a short run of programmes cobbled together from old Timewatch footage interspersed with some narration by a current presenter (and modern footage of talking heads) tying it all together. The presenter in this case was Vanessa Collinridge, who I'd not seen present anything before (which is a shame for her, as I'm judging her based on this ...).
Rudyard Kipling is one of the most well known British writers of the late 19th & early 20th Century - I suspect nearly everyone has heard of something he wrote ("The Jungle Book", "If--", "Tommy" ...). His reputation as a great writer in modern times has been overshadowed by the fact that he was an apologist for the British Empire with the sort of racist views that that entails.
Harlots, Housewives and Heroines: A 17th Century History for Girls is a three part series about women in Restoration England, presented by Lucy Worsley. The three episodes each focus on a sort of woman - the harlots, housewives and heroines of the title; although the last of these categories is a bit forced. Worley's thesis was that the second half of the 17th Century was actually a rather good time to be a woman (relatively speaking).
Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath was a rather disappointing two part series about new work on the site around Stonehenge. The basic premise was that Stonehenge shouldn't be considered in isolation, instead it's important to understand the whole area around it. So a team of archaeologists from Austria have done a site wide survey of 10km2 using non-invasive modern techniques - geophys and the like.
There seems to be something of a tendency for historical documentaries (about Britain) to announce that some aspect of the era under discussion is "the foundation of the modern world". In Rule Britannia! Music, Mischief and Morals in the 18th Century Suzy Klein's thesis was that the musical world of 18th Century Britain was the start of the music and entertainment business as we know it today.
Secrets of Bones was a 6 part series of half hour programmes about skeletons, presented by Ben Garrod. Each episode covered a different aspect of the way that skeletons are vital to vertebrates. The series looked at both the commonalities between the vertebrate skeletal structure, and also the ways that skeletons are adapted to the life style of the particularly organism.
The First Georgians: The Kings Who Made Britain was a series presented by Lucy Worsley which ties into an exhibition at Buckingham Palace this year to mark the 300th anniversary of George I taking the throne. The series (and presumably exhibition?) focussed on Georges I and II who are often overlooked a bit in the rush to get to George III and the madness and loss of the American colonies.
Mud Sweat and Tractors is a four part series about the changes in farming in Britain over the last century or so. It split it up into four areas - milk, horticulture, wheat and beef - and treated each as a separate story, so each episode seemed quite self-contained. Each time there were two or three farming families chosen who had photographs and video footage stretching back to the 1930s. So they made good case studies and could talk about why they or their Dad or Grandad had made particular decisions at particular points.
I know of Robert Boyle because of Boyle's Law (which I must've learnt in GCSE physics about 25 years ago although I couldn't give you the details now), but as In Our Time explained his part in developing the scientific method is probably the more important part of his legacy. And in his own time his piety and religious writings were also important. The three experts who discussed it were Simon Schaffer (University of Cambridge), Michael Hunter (Birkbeck College, University of London) and Anna Marie Roos (University of Lincoln).