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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

The Last Empire

   2016    History
China's last empire, the Qing, lasted from 1644 to 1912. It began in violence and war as the Manchus swept down from the north, but invaders became emperors, with three generations of one family ruling the country. Among them, Michael Wood argues, was China's greatest emperor - Kangxi. Under the Qing, China doubled in size to include Xinjiang in the far west, as well as Mongolia and Tibet, creating the essential shape of China today. The new dynasty tolerated a diversity of cultures and religions, including Islam. In Kaifeng, Michael visits a women's mosque with a female imam, a delightful scene that ends with laughter and selfies! The Qing also undertook huge cultural enterprises. At a traditional printing house where the wood blocks are hand-carved, we see how the Complete Tang Poems were reproduced - all 48,000 of them. We travel through the wintry countryside to a remote village where a hardy audience watch open-air opera in the snow and visit a painter's studio, and 'storytelling' houses in Yangzhou. In the 18th century, China was arguably the greatest economy in the world, and we get a fabulous sense of the rich culture that came with prosperity. But then came the clash with the British, in the first Opium War, when a British expedition destroyed the Qing navy and extracted territory and trading rights. We leave with a glimpse of the future. 'Every dynasty has risen and declined,' says Michael, 'and has needed new life to regenerate, and this time the catalyst was the British.' Among the ports China ceded was an almost uninhabited island, Hong Kong, one of today's greatest financial centres, and Shanghai, a small town then but now one of the greatest cities in world.
Series: The Story of China

Hagia Sophia: Istanbuls Ancient Mystery

   2015    History
Whether serving as Christian church, Islamic mosque, or secular museum, Hagia Sophia and its soaring dome have inspired reverence and awe. For 800 years, it was the largest enclosed building in the world—the Statue of Liberty can fit beneath its dome with room to spare. How has it survived its location on one of the world's most active seismic faults, which has inflicted a dozen devastating earthquakes since it was built in 537?" As Istanbul braces for the next big quake, a team of architects and engineers is urgently investigating Hagia Sophia's seismic secrets. Follow engineers as they build a massive 8-ton model of the building's core structure, place it on a motorized shake table, and hit it with a series of simulated quakes, pushing it collapse—a fate that the team is determined to avoid with the real building

The Square (Al Midan)

   2013    History
A group of Egyptian revolutionaries battle leaders and regimes, risking their lives to build a new society. The Egyptian Revolution has been an ongoing rollercoaster over the past two and a half years. Through the news, we only get a glimpse of the bloodiest battle, an election, or a million man march. At the beginning of July 2013, we witnessed the second president deposed within the space of three years. The Square is an immersive experience, transporting the viewer deeply into the intense emotional drama and personal stories behind the news. It is the inspirational story of young people claiming their rights, struggling through multiple forces: from a brutal army dictatorship willing to crush protesters with military tanks, to a corrupt Muslim Brotherhood using mosques to manipulate voters. Directed by Jehane Noujaim, the film was nominated for the Academy Award and also won three Emmy Awards.

Art of Spain: The Moorish South

   2008    Art
Travelling from the unique Muslim contribution in the medieval south, Andrew Graham-Dixon immerses himself in true Spanish culture and meets the people who live and work with this artistic legacy. He looks at Muslim political and cultural influence as he travels from Cordoba to Granada, seeing classic buildings such as the Great Mosque in Cordoba, the Alcazar in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada. He also shows how the Moors introduced new foods – including citrus fruits, coffee and spices
Series: Art of Spain
How to Grow a Planet
How to Grow a Planet

   2012    Science
Blood of the Vikings
Blood of the Vikings

   2001    History
The Sky at Night
The Sky at Night

   2018    Science
The Human Body
The Human Body

   1998    Medicine
Galapagos with David Attenborough
Galapagos with David Attenborough

   2013    Nature
How the Universe Works Season 6
How the Universe Works Season 6

   2018    Science
Life in the Undergrowth
Life in the Undergrowth

   2005    Nature