BBC Radio 4 is currently airing a two-week long series of daily 15 minute broadcasts by John McCarthy who was kidnapped in Beirut in 1986 and held hostage by Islamic Jihad terrorists for over five years.
“In 1862 Albert, Prince of Wales, toured the Middle East. At the time, it was still predominantly controlled by the Ottoman Empire. As he travelled, his photographer Francis Bedford kept a detailed photographic record of the trip.
In this series, John McCarthy revisits the scenes of Bedford’s photographs: Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Greece. He considers how the immediate physical, political and social landscape has evolved during the intervening 150 years.”
The first two episodes of the programme (aired daily on BBC Radio 4 between 13:45 and 14:00) were broadcast on Monday and Tuesday this week and both concerned Egypt. The episodes which might interest BBC Watch readers will be broadcast on Wednesday May 8th, Thursday May 9th and Friday May 10th, although the series does continue the following week as well with episodes from Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere.
On May 9th the programme deals with the ‘West Bank‘ – specifically the villages of Jib – which is in Area B – and Beit Ur al Fauqa, which is in Area A of the Palestinian Authority controlled territories. A clip from the broadcast can be heard here and in it – perhaps predictably given his previous literary efforts on the subject – we hear McCarthy tell listeners:
“And I think it’s particularly poignant for them [the villagers] as they think about the places that the Prince went in an hour or so on horseback. Now because of the Israeli barrier – what they call the separation wall – they cannot get there without taking massive detours through the countryside. So this picture is important to them because it reminds them of what life had been like in former times.”
The rest of the programme’s schedule can be seen here.