Social issues documentaries

Presented by investigative journalists such as Louis Theroux and Stacey Dooley, BBC Select features many documentaries that cover the social issues affecting today's society: from climate change to racism and domestic violence. If you live in the US or Canada, you can sign up for BBC Select to get informed on all of today's hot topics.

The Good Drug? The History, Politics, and Science of Psychedelics

The good drug

Can psychedelic substances herald a new era for medicine and health? This fascinating documentary investigates our historical, societal, and scientific relationship with psychedelics. Could these mind-altering materials initiate a modern renaissance for clinical research and can their therapeutic properties be used to eradicate a host of mental health problems?

Life and Death Row

Image of someone looking out of a window with bars on it

Eight condemned men are due to be executed over ten days. Here are their stories.

Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson has scheduled eight men to be put to death within ten days of each other. The reason for the unprecedented timetable is to use up the state’s supply of a lethal injection drug. With access to the families of victims, and of those on death row, this compelling documentary series follows the eight cases from both sides, in the time leading up to each execution.

Life and Death Row Season 1

Episode 1 – Execution
The first episode focusses on two of the youngest men on death row in Texas, where execution day has arrived. One victim reflects on her kidnapping ordeal by murderer Richard Cobb while battling a desire to forgive him. Elsewhere, the mother of cop killer Anthony Haynes fights to use the final 72 hours to halt her son’s execution.

Episode 2 – Judgement
Exploring the trial of 26-year-old Guy Heinze Jr, accused of beating his father and seven members of his family to death. With remarkable access to the jury members charged with reaching a verdict, there’s legal manoeuvring and unexpected twists as evidence about the brutal killings unfolds.

Episode 3 – Crisis Stage
The final episode follows legal student Kelly Hickman as she attempts to save two young killers facing execution. Robert Pruett was sentenced to death for murdering a prison guard at the age of 20. Robert Garza was a member of the notorious Tri-City Bombers street gang. As execution day dawns, Kelly feels frustratingly shut out of the legal process.

Louis Theroux: Surviving America's Most Hated Family

Stream Louis Theroux - Surviving America's Most Hated Family on BBC Select

It’s been 13 years since the British filmmaker first encountered Westboro Baptist Church and the Phelps – a family whose noxious doctrine of hate against gay people and US soldiers made them infamous.

Quite a lot has changed for the community in Trump’s America: Pastor Fred Phelps died in 2014 amid rumors of mental illness and excommunication. What happens when a hate group loses its patriarch?

Frat Boys

Stream this Frat Boys documentary on BBC Select

Frats have a reputation for fun-loving debauchery. But do they have a darker side?

Movies have provided us with the image of frats as fun-loving party houses where college students let off steam. But what really happens behind closed doors?

This revealing documentary goes behind the scenes of a notorious fraternity, and investigates the controversial ‘hazing’ process for new recruits and accusations of a culture that harbors drunkenness, brutality and sexual assault.

This show is not currently available on BBC Select but browse through the previous titles for more Social issues documentaries available to stream on BBC Select.

A Nation Divided? The Charlie Hebdo Aftermath

Watch Nation Divided? The Charlie Hebdo Aftermath

In 2015, two Muslim extremists opened fire in the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, incensed by caricatures it had published of the prophet Muhammad.

This BBC documentary sees Shaista Aziz visits a Paris that in the wake of the attacks, publicly projects a picture of unity. But there’s another story – of a divided France, alienated Muslims, a growing Far Right movement and a debate over double standards in French free speech.

This show is not currently available on BBC Select but browse through the previous titles for more Social issues documentaries available to stream on BBC Select.