A tsunami in the Bristol Channel could have caused the deaths of up to 2,000 people in one of Britain’s greatest natural disasters, experts have said. For centuries, it has been thought that the great flood of January 1607 was caused by high tides and severe storms. Two experts have argued a tsunami could have caused the devastation. Eyewitness accounts of the disaster, published in six different pamphlets of the time, told of “huge and mighty hills of water” advancing at a speed “faster than a greyhound can run” and only receding 10 days later. Dr Roger Musson, head of seismic hazards at the British Geological Survey, said there were other examples of earthquakes in the area caused by an ancient fault off south west Ireland. One magnitude 4.5 earthquake was recorded there on 8 February 1980. “The idea of putting a large historical earthquake in this spot is not so fanciful,” he said. “We know from seismological evidence, that we have actually had an earthquake here, so there is a fault and it is moving, it is active.” Other UK tsunamis include a 70 feet high wave that hit Scotland 7,000 years ago, following a massive landslip in Norway.
In the closing months of World War II, defeat was looming for the Germans. But the Nazis did not intend to go down without inflicting as much damage as possible on the Allies. To do so, they employed or planned to employ an increasingly deadly array of military weapons from ballistic missiles to rocket planes to, perhaps, the atomic bomb. The British, American, and Russian governments were not content to sit idly by, waiting to be slammed by the advanced technology. Covert teams of commandos and agents were sent ahead of the front lines and deep into Germany, hunting for both the weapons and the scientists and engineers who’d created them. For British and American operatives, failure was not an option. If they didn’t capture the Nazi technology and scientists, agents of the burgeoning Soviet Union might and that could spell disaster in a post-war world already feeling the chill of the impending cold war. Allied agents focused their efforts on three key Nazi technologies The V-2 Rocket, The Messerschmitt 163 Komet and The Atomic Bomb.
Searching for traces of a mysterious age. Could a sword with magical powers really have existed? Was there really a camelot? Who was King Arthur and the knights of the round table? Where was the legendary grail castle located? The first step in the journey for the holy grail brings us into the mysterious world of the celts. They came to europe from the east. With them they brought their culture, rituals and tradition of burying a prince with his belongings as a gift to the gods. The celts believed in resurrection of the dead. A relief on a bronze vessel from the 1st century B.C. shows a prince placing dead warriors into huge drinking vessels to bring them back to life. This documentary argues the celtic magic vessel as the origin of the medieval holy grail story.
Based on the best selling book by Karen Armstrong, A History of God descents into the ancient roots of Abrahamic religions and analyses today’s three major monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This searching, profound comparative history of the three major monotheistic faiths fearlessly illuminates the sociopolitical ground in which religious ideas take root, blossom and mutate. Armstrong also acknowledges that the idea of a personal God can be dangerous, encouraging us to judge, condemn and marginalize others.
Lucifer, Beelzebub, The Beast, Satan. He has been called many names and taken many strange different forms over the ages. So where does the concept of the traditional evil come from? The History of the Devil goes back to the ancient Middle East, even before the Old Testament to find the roots of Satan. In Zoroastrianism it was believed that the all knowing good God was Ahura Mazda, the one Uncreated, Creator, and Ahriman was his antithesis, the God of chaos, the dark and evil one.
The true story of a family that fought the Nazi madness with the only weapon they had. Love. In wartime Holland, the Ten Boom family quietly sheltered Jews in their small house – until Nazis discovered the “hiding place.” With the Nazi invasion of Holland, the ten Boom family joins the underground resistance to help save persecuted Jewish families. But when they are arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps themselves, they’re left with nothing to cling to but their faith.
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.
Dr Saul David investigates the violent world of the medieval melee tournament. Forget the images of chivalric knights, well-dressed damsels and dropped handkerchiefs associated with the joust. The melee tournament was a brutal free-for-all with sharpened weapons, few rules and one undisputed champion, William Marshal. His story reveals a very different kind of tournament, one in which brute force ruled, handkerchiefs stayed in pockets and where money was more important than manners.
Documentary examining the Great Plague of 1665, one of the darkest moments in Britain’s history, when over one-fifth of London’s population of 500,000 perished in a matter of months. Much is known of the disaster from the perspective of the largely well-to-do contemporary chroniclers, but this film tells the story from the perspective of the poor through the account of a local councillor who lived a stone’s throw from Fleet Street.
History reports that the mighty Inca were swiftly wiped out by a small band of Conquistadors. But, new evidence is being unearthed that may help rewrite history. Remains of those who died in battle have been discovered, and for the first time physical evidence is suggesting that Spain’s conquest of the Incan Empire may have actually taken twenty years. Brought to life through CGI reconstruction and reenactments, the untold epic saga of decades of guerilla warfare and rebellion are finally revealed as this documentary uncovers the truth behind the Inca’s last stand.
North Koreans flee to China, forced to live in miserable conditions and are vulnerable to being sent back to hard labour camps, some commit suicide, others are easy targets. Reporter Oliver Steeds reports on the plight of thousands of North Korean women who have been forced into prostitution or sold as brides after fleeing persecution and starvation in one of the world’s most secretive and repressive regimes.
In 1946 almost half a million German prisoners of war were still being held in Britain. Interviews, archive footage and photographs shed light on the experiences of the people of Oswaldtwistle, who were banned from fraternising with the enemy until 1946, a Lancashire town that offered the hand of friendship to the prisoners of war located near the town. The documentary is based largely on the book Enemies Become Friends by Pamela Howe Taylor.
Trace the rise and fall of one of the most famous Mafia “families,” and get up close with crime legends Carlo Gambino, Paul Castellano and John Gotti. For much of the century, they were the most powerful force in American organized crime. But internal strife and the tireless work of law enforcement have brought this once dominant organization to its knees. The Gambino crime family ruled New York’s streets for years. Today, there are only 200 members left of a force that used to number a thousand. This documentary journeys into the dark side of American history for this eye opening look at the Gambinos.
On July 14, 1789, only a few years after France helped colonists in America win their freedom from Great Britain, a band of Parisian rebels staged an attack on the Bastille, looting needed supplies of food and materiel after the increasingly callous French authorities ignored their pleas. A decade of idealism, war, murder, and carnage followed, bringing about the end of feudalism and the rise of equality and a new world order. With dramatic reenactments, illustrations, and paintings from the era, plus revealing accounts from journals and expert commentary from historians, The French Revolution vividly unfurls in a maelstrom of violence, discontent, and fundamental change. Narrated by Edward Herrmann.
Long ago in the age of dinosaurs, a volcano in eastern China erupted and buried a host of strange creatures in ash, creating exquisite fossils that preserved a big surprise many dinosaurs were covered in feathers. In this documentary investigate the most bizarre of these feathered dinosaurs, which has rekindled a fierce, decades long debate over the origin of bird flight. Dubbed Microraptor, the crow sized fossil is one of the smallest dinosaurs ever found and one of the most controversial, challenging conventional theories and assumptions about the evolution of flight. This documentary commissions a “flight ready” wind tunnel model of Microraptor complete with feathers and articulating joints. Tantalizingly, Microraptor is the unexpected missing link that has reignited the debate and, with the help of this documentary’s model and wind tunnel tests, just might settle the issue, or at the very least deepen our understanding of the long ago era when the ancestors of birds first took to the air.
The First Emperor The Man Who Made China follows the rise and fall of Chin Shi Huang, China’s legendary first emperor. The Discovery Channel was allowed unprecedented access to Emperor Chin’s underground burial complex that spans over seven square miles. The team employs cutting edge technology such as ground penetrating radar combined with CGI to illustrate the design and layout of the largest unopened tomb in the world.
With the conquest of Constatinople in 1204, during the 4th crusade the fall of the Byzantine Empire began. After 1430 the empire included only the city of Constantiople with its precincts and the Despotate of Moreas. John Palaiologos efforts to get help from the West through the union of churches caused great contrapositions in Constantinople among the people who were pro and against the union.
Tony Robinson visits the United States, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Africa to uncover the realities behind the terrifying vision of the end of the world in the Book of Revelation. It’s author wrote it sheltered in a cave on the Greek island of Patmos, probably a refugee from Roman occupied Palestine. He is also likely to have consumed the local hallucinogenic magic mushrooms. So rather than taking these bizarre visions literally, it might make more sense to try to understand them in their historical context. There are some 40 apocalyptic books from this era but this was the only one that made it into the Bible. As is usual with Tony Robinson’s programs Doomsday Code focuses on Tony’s opinions of the people he is observing, in this case Christians and Jews who support the state of Israel’s continued existance. Be prepared for an info-tainment program not a balanced documentary and you won’t be offended.
This History Channel special was a challenge to cover the 600 year span between the fall of the Roman Empire and the First Crusade. While many had to endure plagues, famine, and bloodshed, it was not all darkness, the period was also punctuated by great minds pushing frontiers in the arts and technology.
The Crucified Soldier refers to the widespread story of an Allied soldier serving in the Canadian Army who may have been crucified with bayonets on a barn door or a tree while fighting on the Western Front during World War I. But there was no conclusive proof a crucifixion actually occurred. Nevertheless the story made headline news around the world and the Allies repeatedly used the supposed incident in their war propaganda, like other propoganda such as the Rape of Belgium and the Angels of Mons and the German corpse factory. A three foot bronze sculpture by British artist Francis Derwent Wood of a crucified soldier titled Canada’s Golgotha was included in an 1919 exhibition of wartime art in London but the sculpture was withdrawn from the exhibit after protest. The German government protested the falseness of this atrocity story and after the end of the war they formally requested the Canadian government provide proof. With no knowledge of the identity of the soldier and having only a few eyewitness accounts the crucifixion story was left unproven by a British inquiry after the War, but new sources require a re-examination.
A snake is a perfect hunting machine armed and dangerous it functions day and night. This snake can lock onto it’s target in total darkness with natures equivalent of night goggles it tracks its victim using infa-red. It has heat sensors known as pit organs just above it’s mouth, a live animal is warm and the snakes senses are very accurate. The snake deploys a weapon that is quick and deadly with a minimum of contact all it has to do is wait. The weapon is a lethal chemical, venom. In natures wars of survival chemical weapons are deployed on every front. Chemical warfare is everywhere. Attack and defense, measure and counter measure. This is the story of an evolutionary arms race, of the tactics and strategies deployed in the natural world.
The Britisches Freikorps unit of the Waffen SS served alongside the Nazis on the Eastern Front. Its members wore the death’s head insignia and took German rank. They helped defend Berlin even as Hitler retreated to his bunker. But each and every member was recruited from British, Canadian, Australian and South African soldiers who volunteered to betray their country. Recognising the potential propaganda value of the unit, the Nazis ordered 800 SS uniforms with Union Jack arm badges. Most Allied prisoners of war ignored or resisted recruitment tactics ranging from leaflet bombardment to bribery and torture. But some 200 Allied prisoners answered the Nazi call. Some were motivated by greed, or by sympathies with the fascist cause. Others were simply described by intelligence files of the time as of “weak character”, and found the opportunities offered by the Germans to drink and womanise too tempting. For the first time on British Television, the British SS soldiers speak of their treachery, and their part in a failed German propaganda coup.
A frank and moving film about Jonny Kennedy, an extraordinary man with a terrible condition, Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), which means his skin literally falls off at the slightest touch, leaving his body covered in agonising sores and leading to a final fight against skin cancer. But, despite all the challenges Jonny faced in his life, he was determined to make the best of it. He had a very cheeky sense of humor and was not afraid to tell you what he was feeling straight out. When he found out that he had developed skin cancer he was approached about allowing the last months of his life to be filmed for a documentary. Channel 4, helped make the end of his life a grand adventure. Jonny decided to spice things up and he made a bucket list. He went hang gliding, flew on the Concorde, sailed on the QEII, got his own apartment and decided to organize an unforgettable funeral, which he hoped would bring a smile to people’s faces.
This programme celebrates the 40th anniversary of the official opening of BBC Television by tracing the history of the development of television from its conception in 1908, thru the BBC’s official opening and its first broadcast in 1937. With contributions from John Rowe, Leslie Mitchell, John Rye and more.
On April 26, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian city of Pripyat exploded and began spewing radioactive smoke and gas. Based on top secret government documents that came to light during the collapse of the Soviet Union, The Battle of Chernobyl reveals a systematic cover up of the true scope of the disaster, including the possibility of a secondary explosion of the still smoldering magma, whose radioactive clouds would have rendered Europe uninhabitable. The government effort to prevent such a catastrophe lasted for more than seven months and sacrificed the lives of thousands of soldiers, miners and other workers. The Battle of Chernobyl dramatically chronicles the series of harrowing efforts to stop the nuclear chain reaction and prevent a second explosion and limit the damage caused by the first.