The Lifecycle of a Bullet, Radio 4, Tuesday / Witness, World Service, Tuesday
Recycle that battery and arm the world
It was a trifling sum, but I couldn't get it out of my head: 30p, less than the price of a chocolate bar or a can of fizzy drink. That's what a bullet costs – 30 pence for misery/freedom/security/death (delete as applicable).
The Lifecycle of a Bullet didn't quite live up to its billing – Caroline Wyatt, the BBC's defence correspondent, didn't follow one particular missile halfway round the world, which would have been neat but tough to pull off (I have visions of her extracting it with forceps from Taliban flesh). She kicked off with the bullets' manufacture, mostly using old batteries and roofing lead, on machines that spit out up to 6,000 an hour. Then it was on to the firing range where they're tested, then Warwickshire, where they're stored in Europe's biggest ammunition depot, and eventually to Helmand.
It would have been interesting to address the question of how so many guns and bullets end up in the wrong hands, though I guess that wasn't really in Wyatt's remit. There were some disturbing revelations, such as the fact that since the Second World War there's been only one calendar year, 1968, in which a British soldier hasn't died in action. Better keep those bullet machines ticking over.
Every day, Witness provides often oblique takes on world events. Tuesday's had the Icelandic policeman who looked after Bobby Fischer during his legendary confrontation with Boris Spassky at the Chess World Championship (Friday's was the 40th anniversary of the American's victory). Saemundur Palsson sounded like the kind of bloke nothing could rattle. Years after, when Fischer was in prison in Japan, Palsson bailed him out, and Fischer became an Icelandic citizen. Their relationship began when the policeman fixed the antenna in his hotel room, and fetched him suits for the big match. When Fischer had won, a ball loomed but Fischer couldn't dance. No problem: Palsson taught him to waltz.
While the final dragged on, Fischer effectively became a member of the Palsson family. And how had the policeman's wife reacted to having a basically bonkers chess genius in their midst? "She understood it had to be done," he summarised. "She was a good woman."
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food