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The Ming

   2016    History
The tale of one of China's most famous dynasties begins with the amazing story of Hongwu, a peasant rebel who founded one of greatest eras in Chinese history. The film takes us to his great capital Nanjing, with its 21 miles of walls, each brick stamped with the name of the village that made it. Following the trail, we go to the Bao family village and see the villagers act a Ming murder story.
Like many authoritarian states, the Ming were obsessive about architecture. We see the giant fortifications of the Great Wall, the ritual enclaves of the Forbidden City in Beijing and travel with bargeman Mr Hu down the Grand Canal, China's great artery of commerce right up to the present day. We then hear about Admiral Zheng He's voyages to Africa and the Gulf decades before Columbus, watch the construction of an ocean-going wooden boat 250ft long, and hitch a ride on a replica Ming junk in the South China Sea.
As state prosperity grew, so did a rising middle class. Wood looks at Ming culture in Suzhou, the 'Venice of China'. Staying in a merchant's house, he discovers the silk, ceramic and lacquer-making industries, and visits one of the most beautiful gardens in the city. Then on to Macao and the arrival of Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci, who hoped to convert China to Christianity. In the cathedral in Beijing, we learn more about these fateful exchanges with the west. Finally in Shaoxing, we visit the house of the 'Ming Proust' and at grassroots the Zhao family in Fujian where the film ends in an elegiac mood with the fall of the Ming in 1644.
Series: The Story of China

Silk Roads and China Ships

   2016    History
Michael Wood tells the tale of China's first great international age under the Tang Dynasty (618-907). From the picturesque old city of Luoyang, he travels along the Silk Road to the bazaars of central Asia and into India on the track of the Chinese monk who brought Buddhism back to China. This tale is still loved by the Chinese today and is brought to life by storytellers, films and shadow puppet plays. Then in the backstreets and markets of Xi'an, Michael meets descendants of the traders from central Asia and Persia who came into China on the Silk Road. He talks to Chinese Muslims in the Great Mosque and across town hears the amazing story of the first reception of Christianity in 635. Moving south, Michael sees the beginnings of China as an economic giant. On the Grand Canal, a lock built in 605 still handles 800 barges every day! The film tracks the rise of the silk industry and the world's favourite drink - tea. Michael looks too at the spread of Chinese script, language and culture across east Asia. 'China's influence on the East was as profound as Rome on the Latin West', he says, 'and still is today'. Finally, the film tells the intense drama of the fall of the Tang. Among the eyewitnesses were China's greatest poets. In a secondary school in a dusty village, where the Chinese Shakespeare - Du Fu - is buried in the grounds, the pupils take Michael through one famous poem about loss and longing as the dynasty falls. And in that ordinary classroom, there is a sense of the amazing drama and the deep-rooted continuities of Chinese culture.
Series: The Story of China

Star of Bethlehem

   2013    Science
A strange light in the heavens. The star that signals the birth of Jesus. Is it faith, fable, or fact? The star of Bethlehem is hard to identify thousands of years later. Can we decode the secret of the star with the science of the universe? What was it? Where did it come from? And will it return?
Discover an explanation by various astronomers and religion historians of what the star of Bethlehem really was based on available evidence.
Series: The Universe Season 7

Jesus Camp

   2006    Culture
The youngest foot soldiers for the Lord are shown in their native environment in this documentary. Becky Fischer is a children's pastor who runs 'Kids on Fire,' a summer camp for evangelical Christian children in North Dakota. Fischer believes in the political and moral importance of a Christian presence in America, and uses her camp to reinforce the religious training most of her charges are already receiving at home (the majority of the campers are home-schooled by their parents).
Using video games, animated videos, and group activities to help put her message across, Fischer encourages the kids to pray for the President and his Supreme Court appointees while urging them to help 'take back America for Christ.' For the most part, the children seem reasonably ordinary beyond the fact they pray with uncommon fervour and sometimes speak in tongues.
Along with Fischer and her cohorts, Jesus Camp features interviews with Ted Haggard, an evangelist and advisor to George W. Bush, and Mike Papantonio, a Christian talk-show host who believes the right-wing slant of many Christian evangelists is taking the church into a dangerous direction.

God in the Dock

   2011    Culture
Diarmaid MacCulloch's own life story makes him a symbol of a distinctive feature about Western Christianity - scepticism, a tendency to doubt which has transformed both Western culture and Christianity. In the final programme in the series, he asks where that change came from. He challenges the simplistic notion that faith in Christianity has steadily ebbed away before the relentless advance of science, reason and progress, and shows instead how the tide of faith perversely flows back in. Despite the attacks of Newton, Voltaire, the French Revolutionaries and Darwin, Christianity has shown a remarkable resilience. The greatest damage to Christianity was actually inflicted to its moral credibility by the two great wars of the 20th century and by its entanglement with Fascism and Nazism. And yet it is during crisis that the Church has rediscovered deep and enduring truths about itself, which may even be a clue to its future.
Series: A History of Christianity
D-Day
D-Day

   2013    History
Africa with David Attenborough
Africa with David Attenborough

   2013    Nature
First Life
First Life

   2010    Science
The Story of the Jews
The Story of the Jews

   2013    History
Vice
Vice

   2013    Culture
Speed
Speed

   2019    Technology
Generation Iron
Generation Iron

   2017    Culture
Seven Ages of Rock
Seven Ages of Rock

   2007    Art