Global Affairs Documentaries

BBC Select has a range of compelling documentaries focusing on the latest global issues and social issues that matter to us all. Stream shows from BBC News and leading documentary filmmakers and get the inside story on politics, influential world leaders, regional conflicts and more.

Putin vs The West

Image of Putin wearing sun glasses reflecting the British and US flags

Throughout the two decades that Vladimir Putin has controlled Russia, global leaders have tried various tactics to keep him in line. Now, as war rages in Ukraine and the world faces one of its greatest tests to peace since the Cold War, this documentary attempts to identify where these leaders went wrong and tries to understand how we have reached this point of no return with Putin.

Ep 1: My Backyard
When Putin first attacked Ukraine in 2014, he used the West’s hesitancy to his advantage.

When Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces first attacked Ukraine in 2014, Europe’s leaders clashed over how to stop him.
When he spied division in the West, the Russian President pressed home his advantage. As this thrilling documentary
illustrates, Putin was able to exploit a power vacuum and make his most audacious move to date: sending troops into Crimea.

Ep 2: Back With a Vengeance
As revolution tore through the Middle East, the West tried to enlist Putin as peacemaker.

As the uprisings of the Arab Spring tore through the Middle East, Western leaders attempted to enlist Putin as a peacemaker. But, as this compelling political documentary shows, the Russian President was able to use this to his advantage. Exploiting the West’s inaction,
he revealed just how far he was willing to go to keep his allies in power.

Ep 3: A Dangerous Path
Putin’s aggression culminates in an audacious invasion that threatens to engulf Europe.

From an audacious poisoning, to the moment he launched an invasion that threatened to engulf Europe, Putin has continued to ramp up his aggression. As this fascinating documentary concludes, leaders including Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Volodymyr Zelensky discuss how they confronted Putin and maneuvered to try and prevent his invasion of Ukraine. How will the West now respond?

House of Saud

Stream House of Saud on BBC Select

Can Saudi Arabia, a country at the heart of the escalating Middle East crisis, be a force for good?

What’s it like to be a ruler with vast wealth and a kingdom’s lives in your hands? Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia follows a long line of Saudi princes exerting total power at home and enjoying relative impunity abroad. But this ruler has different plans to his predecessors; he has pledged to tackle corruption and extremism, and bring about social reform in his country.

But with Saudi Arabia at the heart of the escalating Middle East crisis, can this controversial state work with the West to return to moderate Islamism? This BBC documentary series, travels from eastern Europe to India via the battlefields of Syria and Yemen, to inside Saudi Arabia in order to find out.

The Hunt for Bin Laden

Stream The Hunt for Bin Laden on BBC Select

As Osama Bin Laden’s terror attacks spiraled across the world, America struggled to find and eliminate the world’s most wanted man, despite intensive efforts.

Why was he so difficult to track down?

In this thrilling documentary on BBC Select, the mission to get Bin Laden, led by President Barack Obama, is told in forensic detail. How was he so elusive and how was he eventually caught and killed?

Is China Watching You?

Is China Watching You

China’s surveillance and facial recognition technology is arguably the most advanced in the world. Their products account for over 40% of global sales to places like Germany, Ecuador, Uganda and the UK. However, this documentary reveals that some are worried that the countries going big on digital CCTV might also be opening the door to being spied on, but do these fears have any foundation?

Gay Under The Taliban

gay under the ta

For LGBTQ youth in Afghanistan, in the years before the return of the Taliban, life was showing signs of improvement. But when the Taliban retook control in 2021, those freedoms quickly evaporated and gay people were forced back into hiding. This LGBTQ documentary follows the story of a handful of people trapped in hell, running for their lives for the crime of being nothing but themselves.