Decoding the Past is a series that “decodes” the past by looking for unusual, paranormal, and mysterious things written about throughout history that may give clues as to what will happen in the future.
It is almost impossible to understand how 300 Spartans managed to hold off the million man Persian army for even a moment, much less seven days. To a man they paid with their lives but their stunning Last Stand assured that their sacrifice would resonate throughout history. Relying on brilliant tactics, lifelong training, and unshakable allegiance, the doomed Spartans achieved the impossible. Transporting dramatizations and incisive graphics put you in the heat of the battle and show the lay of the land. The complications and strategies of the conflict are revealed through careful analysis, and critical moments are reconstructed to show exactly what happened.
Modern Marvels celebrates the ingenuity, invention and imagination found in the world around us. From commonplace items like ink and coffee to architectural masterpieces and engineering disasters, the hit series goes beyond the basics to provide insight and history into things we wonder about and that impact our lives. This series tells fascinating stories of the doers, the dreamers and sometime schemers that create everyday items, technological breakthroughs and manmade wonders. The hit series goes deep to explore the leading edge of human inspiration and ambition. Firefighting Containing the Demon is not part of regular series, this is a special to coincide with John Travolta film Ladder 49, and is introduced by him.
Historian Michael Wood returns to his first great love, the Anglo-Saxon world, to reveal the origins of our literary heritage. Focusing on Beowulf and drawing on other Anglo-Saxon classics, he traces the birth of English poetry back to the Dark Ages. traveling across the British Isles from East Anglia to Scotland and with the help of Nobel prize winning poet Seamus Heaney, actor Julian Glover, local historians and enthusiasts, he brings the story and language of this iconic poem to life.
The story of Spartacus is epic in every way. The gladiator who lead a slave army to challenge the might of Rome. Even his admirers are larger than life, Karl Marx called him the most splendid fellow in ancient history. For Kirk Douglas he was a slave dreaming of the end of slavery. Spartacus legend has a powerful popular appeal, as cinema quickly learned. It celebrates the individual struggling with overwhelming odds. Behind the myth is a real man, a slave turned gladiator who almost changed history. How can you seperate the man from the legend?
Born in 1905, John was the youngest of George V’s children. Diagnosed with epilepsy, he died in 1919 after a particularly severe seizure. Had he lived he would have been the present Queen’s uncle. The popular image of Prince John has since been one of a neglected child who was regarded as an embarrassment and shut away from public view, deprived of contact with his family. Using testimonies of individuals with direct personal connections to the prince, together with new research and photographs of the real “Johnny”, this documentary unravels some of the mysteries and misconceptions surrounding him, presenting a more complete story than has ever been told before.
The story of Frankenstein has haunted us for almost 200 years a monster brought to life by a mad scientist in his secret laboratory. But is Mary Shelley’s book pure fiction after all? This programme uncovers facts and sheds light on a dark world of bizarre scientific experiments intended to unlock the secret of life.
Scottish movie star Alan Cumming returns to his homeland to take a tour of the locations of some classic Scottish movies. He celebrates some of the weird and wonderful movies inspired by Scotland, such as The Wicker Man, which was filmed in Dumfries and Galloway. Film experts and actors, including Peter Mullen and David Hayman, compare the blockbusters Braveheart and Rob Roy, while Edinburgh’s contribution to Scottish cinema is celebrated by the contrasting films The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Trainspotting. Director Bill Forsyth meets Cumming in Cumbernauld – the setting of Forsyth’s film Gregory’s Girl – and explains why the new town was such a fitting location for his enduringly popular film.
And you thought it was all in the movies. The strangest things are based on truth. Gladiator – The oscar winning film Gladiator is the story of a hero Russell Crowe’s Maximus, the general who became a slave who became a gladiator. He is the perfect fighting machine and he destroys the most powerful man on earth the emperor of Rome. The historical truth is even more surprising Like Maximus the gladiators of Rome really fought in giant arenas for the pleasure of the crowd. New experiments may show if even the way they fought is truly what we see in the movies. The emperor Commodus was even crazier than Maximus’ enemy in the Hollywood version. New archaeology could reveal the secrets of how Commodus lived, how he committed his crimes and maybe even where he died. Just like the story of Russel Crowe’s Maximus this is a tale of blood death sex and violence. This is the real story of gladiator.
A documentary about the real life inspirations for Sherlock Holmes. A leading professor of medicine, Dr. Joseph Bell is a pioneer in a new field, forensic science. Joseph Bell is the real life model for the greatest fictional detective in history. He inspired his student, Arthur Conan Doyle to create a legend. Includes interviews with literary historians and Holmes experts and asks the question what is it about this imaginary victorian detective seem so real.
Jurassic Park tells the story of billionaire John Hammond creating a theme park where the main attractions are dinosaurs. He invites Alan Grant, an eminent palaeontologist, and other scientists to the island to share his vision. They are in awe of what he has achieved, but things go wrong when there is a security breach and the dinosaurs escape. The visitors become the hunted as the dinosaurs pick off the visitors one by one. Finally, the remaining four survivors make a desperate escape from the island via helicopter. This documentary reveals the science behind Jurassic Park is based on rigorous scientific research and that the key character at the centre of the film is inspired by a real life individual. The vision of how dinosaurs could be bought back to life has now been shown to be impossible. But this documentary will feature recent remarkable breakthroughs in biology that would allow dinosaurs to walk again. Using cutting edge evolutionary biology, scientists are getting closer to bringing the dinosaur back to life. With extensive location filming, expert interviews, forensic science and drama recon we bring the real story of Jurassic Park to life.
Lightsabers and Death Stars, pirate spaceships and bio-mechanical bad guys, the stuff of fictional galaxies far, far away, right? Well, not so fast. Many of the concepts introduced in the Star Wars saga can actually be examined scientifically, allowing us to separate the fact from fiction. Could a lightsaber actually store light to be wielded as a deadly weapon? How powerful would a creation like the Death Star have to be to destroy an entire planet? Can holographic messages really be stored and projected in a droid like R2-D2? Star Wars Tech consults leading scientists in the fields of physics, prosthetics, laser technology, engineering and astronomy and examines the plausibility of Star Wars technology based on science as we know it today.
Documentary examining the medieval myth of the Philosopher’s Stone, a Holy Grail-type relic which supposedly held the key to alchemy and immortality. Many noted alchemists and adventurers searched obsessively for the artifact hoping to learn its powerful secrets, a quest which allegedly drove some to madness and others to celestial encounters. Today, the quest for the Philosopher’s Stone is merely thought of as a work of fiction from the pages of a Harry Potter novel. However, in the Middle Ages, the very real search for the Philosopher’s Stone was second only to that of the Holy Grail. This fascinating documentary unearths the astonishing events surrounding this legendary stone, and the alchemists and adventurers who stopped at nothing in their search for this tantalising quarry.
In this series Take a forensic look at the world’s most popular and enduring mysteries from the “lost city” of Atlantis to UFOs to the Loch Ness monster. Episode The Lost Ark – The Ark Of The Covenant, down through the ages it has inspired terror and obsession. This gold encrusted chest held the 10 commandments and gave Moses a direct hotline to God. With it the Israelites conquered the Holy Land and they built it a temple. Then in perhaps the greatest Biblical riddle ever the Ark Of The Covenant simply vanished from scripture and for hundreds of years it has enthralled knights, archaeologist, madmen, and filmmakers. Can modern scholarship tell us where it is now or explain the Arks legendary powers? At Jerusalem’s heart lies a hill called Mt Mariah. Now the site of the dome of the rock. Before that Jesus healed the blind and the sick there and so Christians call it holy ground as well. 1000 years before that Solomon built the original temple on this mount to house the mysterious object called the Ark Of The Covenant, then the centerpiece of the Jewish religion. How the Ark got there and how it vanished from there are riddles that invite obsession.
Historian Hallie Rubenhold reveals the story behind the 18th century’s most infamous book Harris’s Lists, a catalogue describing the talents and attributes of London’s prostitutes. Created by a pimp, a prostitute and a poet, the Lists became an instant bestseller – even though they contained lurid and often disturbing descriptions of the lives of the common courtesans. Rubenhold uses the details found within the Lists to produce a vivid depiction of the steamy underside of Georgian life.
The Real Da Vinci Code ought to be the last word among plentiful video debates over the validity of startling claims in Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. Produced by Britain’s Channel Four Television and broadcast on the Discovery Channel in the U.S., the irreverent but no-nonsense documentary systematically dismantles so called historical facts Brown embraced (not only in his story, but in interviews) to support the idea that the Holy Grail is actually the blood lineage of Jesus, carried by descendants of his child by Mary Magdalene. Hosted by Tony Robinson (Blackadder’s Baldrick), The Real Da Vinci Code hopscotches through France, Scotland, Israel, Italy, Spain, and America to investigate evidence that the major historical players in Brown’s alternative Grail legend, the heretical Cathars, the wealthy but persecuted Knights Templar, the secretive Priory of Sion, did the things Brown (and his research sources) said they did.
American film actress Rita Hayworth is best known for her stunning explosive sexual charisma on screen in films throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Trained as a dancer, she hit stardom as an actress with her appearance in The Strawberry Blonde (1941). She is best known for her performance in Charles Vidor’s Gilda (1946). Her career ended with Ralph Nelson’s The Wrath of God (1972). Hayworth died of Alzheimer’s disease on May 14, 1987.
Dan Brown’s latest blockbuster, The Lost Symbol has Professor Robert Langdon on a frantic quest to solve impossible riddles, trying to save the life of the leading Freemason in Washington D.C. Brown is as keen as ever for readers to know that “all the organisations in this novel exist, all the, rituals, science artwork and monuments in this book are real”. In this sequel to 2005’s programme The Real Da Vinci Code, Tony Robinson sets off to find the truth behind these claims and the novel’s plot. On his journey Tony must grapple with a world of impenetrable symbols and untangle the Freemasons’ strange involvement in the creation of the USA. He criss-crosses the Atlantic as he digs deeper and deeper to answer key questions thrown up by this complex novel. Did the Freemasons create the United States of America for their own secret purposes? Did they encode strange symbols into the streets and structures of the nation’s capital? What could they have learnt from 17th century alchemists like Isaac Newton? Can Tony use the power of his mind to move objects? And are the Masons really still powerful today?
Most people believe zombies are a recent phenomenon that grew out of comic books, movies and TV. The truth is very different. Zombies: A Living History explores the real story of zombies beginning at the dawn of civilization and continuing right through to today. See how modern science added a whole new twist on zombies beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Zombies: A Living History goes on a journey more than 5,000 years in the making and shows that every civilization and culture has had their own version of the undead.
Narrated by Richard Kiley. A&E Biography portrays a gorgeous, dazzling man who was well loved, still friends with his ex-wives, possibly bisexual or at least dabbled in bisexuality (although no one ever really comes up with any evidence for that), and a man who died tragically at a young age and before the birth of his son. According to Terry Moore, Power wanted only two things in what had been a wonderful life, to have a son and to die “in harness.”
A look at the making of the Gladiator and the historical aspects presented within the film. Interviews with cast, crew and historical professors about certain locations and characters that were in the movie. Originally aired on Discovery Channel as a promotion for the 2000 film. Interviews with cast, crew and historical professors tell us a little bit more about certain locations and characters than what was in the movie.