Portillo’s State Secrets

Discover the historic documents featured in the BBC Two TV series here

The first documentary of its kind to explore the many historic documents held at The National Archives.

From spies and celebrities through to tyrants and famous kings and queens, Michael Portillo walks you through some of the most fascinating stories in history which are all open for you to discover.

Image of Portillo's State Secrets BBC
Starts Monday 23 March 18:30
Watch on the BBC iPlayer

Episode 1: Crime and punishment

Monday 23 March
Some of the world’s most famous detectives and criminal cases can be found in The National Archives...

Crime and punishment

Episode 2: Tyrants

Tuesday 24 March
Discover the secrets of some of the world's most notorious dictators with official records held by The National Archives...


Episode 3: Celebrity and scandals

Wednesday 25 March
Whether new or old, the actions of celebrity writers, royals and rock stars will always be of public interest...

Celebrity and scandals

Episode 4: Mysteries

Thursday 26 March
The last letter from Jack the Ripper, thousands of UFO reports, hoax claims of finding Lord Kitchener’s body...


Episode 5: Sport and politics

Friday 27 March
Did you know that King Edward III tried to ban football?

Sport and politics

Episode 6: Traitors and spies

Monday 30 March
Fake identities and knitting needles have featured in the tactics of espionage from the First World War to the Cold War...

Traitors and spies

Episode 7: Monarchy

Tuesday 31 March
Discover the details of royal treasures, attempted assassinations and speeches drafted in case of a Third World War...


Episode 8: Banned

Wednesday 1 April
Censorship is still a major issue but how has it changed over the years?


Episode 9: On trial

Thursday 2 April
Discover the details of some of the many historic cases and trials ranging from blasphemy and witchcraft through to slavery...

On trial

Episode 10: National security

Friday 3 April
Some of the most famous plots and sieges all feature in our vast collection of records...

National security