For more than 1,000 years, the Byzantine Empire was the eye of the entire world – the origin of great literature, fine art and modern government. Heir to Greece and Rome, it was the first Christian empire, spanning 11 centuries and three continents. In the end, plundered and sacked by invaders, Byzantium nearly became extinct. Episode 1 Building the Dream – The procession was led by the great Roman Emperor, Constantine. And he brought with him a bunch of priests, pagan and Christian ones, and they were all holding an incredible collection of relics. At the exact moment prescribed by astrologers and Constantine renamed the city Constantinople and claimed it as the capital of his grand new empire.
The senses are our guide to the world, keeping us out of danger and directing us to pleasure. But how sensitive and accurate are they? And Just how intense a sensation can we bear? We will also meet the sensory superstar of the animal kingdom, who can help to explain the biological roots of our own senses. The light hearted but revealing series explores, sense by sense, how they function and why we need them. Then delves so deep you’ll never hear, taste, touch, smell, stand, or see the same way again. Episode 1 Smell and Taste – In the first programme of the series Nigel Marven goes in search of the most disgusting, the most attractive smells and sets out to discover the biological reasons why humans eat such a diverse range of foods, from rotten raw ducks eggs to a sweaty blue cheese. At a chilli eating contest, he pushes his taste buds to the limit.
Rome’s legions met their match in the highlands of Scotland. At the archaeological dig of the Roman garrison at Vindolanda, countless artifacts help recreate the life of Roman armies, from their aqueducts to their slaughterhouse Narrated by James Woods. This is the amazing story of one of the most remarkable archaelogical finds of the Roman Empire. Archaeologists examine treasures of letters, lists and notes written on wooden tablets 2,000 years ago by Roman soldiers stationed in Britains northern frontier at their fort at Vindolanda.
The Mystery of the Black Death begins in September of 1665, when a tailor in the secluded English village of Eyam opened a flea infested shipment of fabric from London. In a matter of days, the tailor and much of the village were suffering the telltale signs of bubonic plague, the disease that, in the first five years since its arrival, had wiped out a third of the European population. To prevent the outbreak from spreading throughout the region, the whole town was quarantined, no one was allowed in or out. Outsiders assumed that the bacteria would simply wipe out the entire village. But they were wrong. Three hundred and fifty years later, Dr. Stephen O’Brien, a geneticist from the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., is delving into the reasons why some individuals managed to survive the excruciating Black Death while others were dying all around them. Following O’Brien as he takes DNA samples and investigates historical records and family archives, the film sheds light on the resistance to the plague, and reveals a stunning legacy that the plague survivors passed on to their descendents, a similar resistance to the modern day scourge of AIDS.
We are in the midst of the greatest era of space discovery. Twenty first century spacecraft and sophisticated imaging technology are venturing into uncharted territory every day, and much of the extraordinary phenomena are happening right in our own cosmic backyard. Episode 6 Ten Ways to Destroy the Earth – Don’t try this at home! In this episode, our experts cook up ten ways you could destroy the earth, including: swallowing it with a microscopic black hole; blowing it up with anti-matter; hurling it into the Sun, and switching off gravity. This is a fun way to explore the dangerous physics of the Universe and the properties of the planet we call home.
World War II In HD Colour is a 13 episode television documentary series recounting the major events of World War II narrated by Robert Powell. The series combines both original and colourised footage. With the very latest satellite delivered terrain mapping and state of the art graphics this story can now be told with access to information which was not previously available to other older series. Conventional wisdom has recently changed as more and more secrets have been revealed particularly in the last five to ten years as documents, files and photographs have been released. Code breaking revelations, and newly released government papers on both sides of the Atlantic have added a very insightful new dimension to the understanding of this the worlds’ greatest ever conflict. Episode 6 The Mediterranean and North Africa – After success in North Africa and Greece, Allies push Benito Mussolini’s forces all the way back to Italy and the Allies start to put real pressure on Nazi Germany. Hitler, now faced a difficult choice. Did he divert troops needed at other fronts to support his ally, or did he let Mussolini fall? Hitler chose to support him, a decision that would spell disaster for both of them.
Science has advanced more in the last few decades than all of previous human history but that pales in comparison to what lies ahead. Light is leading the next revolution. This documentary is an entertaining taste of light and its many disguises. In the first part, Beings of Light, discover that darkness is one half of the equation to good health. The eye has two senses, one for navigating the world but another for regulating biology. And that’s changing everything from architecture to law. In the second part, Energies of Light, from ancient times to the present, nothing has so captivated or so perplexed as elusive light. Energies of Light offers a glint of light’s potential and interviews the extraordinary visionaries who are taming light’s power.
It is unique in the Roman World. A spectacular and complex stone barrier measuring 74 miles long, and up to 15 feet high and 10 feet thick. For 300 years Hadrian’s Wall stood as the Roman Empire’s most imposing frontier and one of the unsung wonders of the ancient world. Almost 2,000 years after it was built, Hadrian’s Wall is proving to be a magical time capsule – a window into the human past. Archaeologists have properly excavated less than 1per cent of it, but they have unearthed extraordinary findings. With presenter Julian Richards Timewatch journeys back through time to unlock the secrets of a lost world.
From the dawn of civilization to the 20th century, A History of Britain re-animates familiar tales and illuminates overlooked aspects of England’s past. Hosted by Simon Schama, this series discards timelines and tiresome lineages for a lively look at the personalities and cultures that infuse British history. Epic themes and towering figures that transformed an island “at the edge of the world” into the greatest empire on earth. Episode 15 The Two Winstons – The lives of Winston Churchill and George Orwell, who created the hero Winston Smith in his novel 1984. These men had a huge personal impact on the historian and touched many of the key events of the 20th century, including the World Wars and the Depression.
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. Opus Dei Revealed – The leaders of Opus Dei provide full access to their group in an attempt to combat the negative publicity they received following the release of Dan Browns novel.
Homer wrote his epic, The Iliad, in 700 BC 500 years after the Trojan Wars were supposed to have taken place. Did the Trojan war ever happen,or was the city destroyed by natural causes? It’s fascinated poets, painters and Hollywood directors for over 2,500 years. Join Michael Wood as he combs the cradle of civilization from Greece to Turkey and points beyond Germany, Ireland and England in search of archaeological evidence that may validate the fantastic battles immortalized in The Iliad From Schliemann’s initial cavalier bulldozing of the mound at Hisarlik, to Homer’s epics, the Hittite Empire, and the role of slave women, Wood journeys back and forth across the Aegean and elsewhere to illuminate the dawn of Western literature, myth, and history. The Singer of Tales – The role and long time fidelity of oral traditions. Homer’s reliability challenged.
At the time of Queen Victoria’s birth in 1819, England was an agrarian society. Within a few short decades it would be transformed into an industrial superpower, with an empire spanning the globe. Queen Victoria’s Empire is both the story of this remarkable time, and an engaging portrait of a Queen who ruled over a one-fifth of the world’s population. Personal accounts, lush reenactments, and evocative cinematography from former outposts of the Empire recount the dramatic clash of personalities and cultures that would drive Victoria’s remarkable 64 year reign. Episode 1 Engines of Change – Explores the changes brought to Britain by the industrial revolution. By the 1840s, urban migration has created overcrowding and extremes in pollution and poverty. However, British subjects remain loyal to their Queen. Prince Albert, Victoria’s husband, becomes a guiding force in the monarchy. Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone, political stars with starkly contrasting visions of empire, turn the nation’s attention abroad.
This five part series reveals how the Second World War provided a backdrop to a time of intense social change in Britain. As the country fought a long and bloody war, a sexual revolution was in its throes. Through heart rending revelations and intimate personal testimonies, Sex, Love And War reveals the full story of the sexual adventures of the nation during World War II. The danger of death inspired a “live for today” attitude. As a result taboos came crashing down.
From Wales to Timbuktu is a two part series about the meeting of two cultures through the eyes and words of teenagers from mid Wales. In February 2009, four specially selected students travelled to Mali in Africa, on a 10 day literary adventure. Their aim was to immerse themselves in the culture of Timbuktu, Hay-on-Wye’s twin town. They recorded their experiences, observations and revelations by keeping diaries and writing notes. Key to their experience was the guidance of a writing mentor Tom Bullough a published author from Powys. Hay-on-Wye and Timbuktu are twinned not just as municipalities but also through their fundamental association with literature and the world of books. Timbuktu is the oldest home of the written word in Africa.
Clarissa Dickson-Wright tracks down Britain’s oldest known cookbook, King Richard II’s 700 year old scroll The Forme of Cury, and compares its contents with the way we eat today, as well as re-creating some of the dishes for a group of food and medieval history experts. Documentary in which self-confessed medieval foodie Clarissa Dickson Wright tracks down Britain’s oldest known cookbook The Forme of Cury, a 700 year old scroll written during the reign of King Richard II from recipes created by the king’s master chefs and wonders if this ancient manuscript may have influenced the way people eat today. On her culinary journey through medieval history she reawakens recipes that have lain dormant for centuries and discovers dishes that are still prepared now.
Get an inside look at the aircraft that flies U.S. presidents all over the world in this fascinating National Geographic documentary about Air Force One. Viewers will take a tour of the plane and learn about flight strategies for presidential travel. In addition to exploring the high tech wonder at rest, the program follows former President George W. Bush as he travels to the Middle East on Air Force One in January 2008.
Certain landmarks have captured the imagination and awe of modern architects and engineers around the world as they work to solve the mystery of how their ancient forebears were able to construct such beautiful, timeless and revolutionary structures with none of the machines and materials available to modern engineers. Episode Colosseum – Greatest amphitheater of the ancient world embodies the genius of Roman engineering, but is much more-a powerful tool of control over the population and a reason for the proclamation of the Roman greatness in the world.
Series from Discovery Channel on earthquakes. Episode 2. Mexico City – The Aztecs believed the world would end by earthquake and fire. For a moment in 1985, it seemed they were right. Mexico City was struck by an earthquake both deadly and mystifying. How did people survive for nine days in the rubble? Learn how the largest urban center on the face of the earth was built in perhaps one of the worst places for earthquakes, and what happened in 1985 when one of the world’s strongest ever earthquakes rocked it seemingly to the ground.
Megastructures: Built from Disaster explores how accidents throughout the world have influenced the evolution of modern structural engineering. Stadiums Episode 4 – Sport stadiums are amongst the most iconic, eye catching structures of the modern world. Symbols of local and national pride, they play host to huge crowds on a weekly basis. No other structure holds so many people in such close proximity and in such an emotionally charged atmosphere-so when the structures fail, the effects can be catastrophic. Over the past century, more than 1,600 people have died at stadiums across the world. To prevent disasters happening in the stadiums of the future, engineers have had to learn what went wrong in the past.
Series in which intrepid presenter Kate Humble follows the ancient frankincense trade route of Arabia across the amazing modern world of the Middle East. Kate’s journey along the 2,000 mile trail that first connected the Arab world with the West takes her on a quest that’s steeped in history, searing with desert heat, and full of characters and adventure. For 3,000 years before the birth of Christ, frankincense was more valuable than gold. Its sweet smelling aromatic smoke was treasured by Pharaohs and Caesars, and their insatiable demand for frankincense created a trade route from the southern coast of Oman to the Holy Lands. Vast camel caravans carried thousands of tonnes of frankincense over tribal lands – known today as Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Palestine.
This is where it all began, Adam Hart-Davis first foray, directly inspired by the Monty Python sequence from “The Life of Brian”, where the People’s Front of Judea discuss “What have the Romans done for us?”, into how the foundations of modern society were laid by the surprising cultural and technological achievements of the Roman empires. This is the first series of “What The … Did For Us” hosted by Adam Hart-Davis. Episode 3 Building Britain – Within 30 years of the invasion there were 60,000 Roman troops in Britain, they had come from some of the most advanced places in Europe, and to them this sort of settlement must have seemed primitive. This is the story of how they transformed the landscape and laid the foundations for the countryside and the cities Britain has today. Hart-Davis analyses the Romans’ ingenious farming methods and looks at the creation of early towns. He visits York and discovers the remains of the Roman city and a Roman sewer that is still working. Butser Ancient Farm, described as “an open air laboratory”, this reconstructed Iron Age farm and settlement is an archaeological research project, investigating the ancient methods of Celtic farmers. Housesteads Roman Fort, Britain’s most intact Roman fort, all the more impressive for its clifftop location, built by Hadrian in the second century. Fire brigades and primitive fire extinguishers, demonstrated by Hart-Davis, were developed under the auspices of the Emperor Nero.
The meals of King Henry VIII of England were among the most fantastic ever created. Henry consumed meals of dolphin, songbird and enjoyed intricate puddings molded from sugar. Based on astrology as much as taste Tudor food included elaborate jellies made from deer antler even alcoholic spirits flavored with pure gold. From their great palaces the Tudor monarchs were served extravagant meals that combined the outrageous with the every day, helping to shape the way we eat and taste to the present day. As we journey back in time to the 16th century we will discover the secrets of royal cuisine and reveal a meal fit for a king.
In the cloud forests of Peru the stone walls of a mysterious mountain top fortress rise out of the jungle. These 60 foot walls are filled with the bones of the Chachapoya, the Cloud Warriors, who lived high in the Andes from A.D. 800 to the mid 1500s. Only after an intense struggle did the powerful Incan empire gain control of the fiercely independent Chachapoya tribes. But did the Inca ever conquer the Chachapoya stronghold of Kuelap? Archaeologists at Kuelap have uncovered hundreds of elaborate burial sites throughout the settlement that reveal tantalising clues about the identity of the Chachapoya people and how and why they built such a massive fortress.
Presented by Marc Morris an exciting, eye opening tour around Britain exploring the age of the medieval castle. Covering a period of six hundred years of British history, Marc charts the evolution of the medieval castle, from the primitive earth and timber “motte and bailey” castles to the formidable stone structures which still dominate the land today. Episode 1 – Medieval historian Marc Morris travels the length of Britain to tell the story of the nation’s castles, consulting the Bayeux Tapestry and archaeological evidence to discover how they evolved over a 600 year period, and revealing that the traditional motte and bailey style constructions were actually of foreign invention, developed by William the Conqueror.