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Born in the Purple

   2016    History
This stylish mix of documentary and historical epic chronicles the reign of Commodus, the emperor whose rule marked the beginning of Rome's fall. In the first episode, the death of Marcus Aurelius brings a century of Roman triumphs and victories to an end, transferring power to his spoiled, unprepared son Commodus. When his father bequeaths him the world's mightiest empire, he is forced to spill the blood of both friends and enemies alike to keep his crown.
Series: Roman Empire: Reign of Blood

The Story of the Jews: In the Beginning

   2013    History
With optional Hebrew subtitles. Simon Schama explores the history of the Jewish experience from ancient times to the present day. This programme begins the tale 3,000 years ago, with the emergence of a tribal people in a contested land and their extraordinary book, the Hebrew Bible, a chronicle of their stormy relationship with a faceless, formless, jealous God. It was loyalty to this 'God of Words' that defined the distinct identity of the ancient Jews and preserved it despite all that history could throw their way". The story unfolds with a dazzling cast of historical characters: Sigmund Freud dying in exile in London; Victorian evangelicals and explorers following 'in the footsteps' of Moses; Jewish mercenaries living, prospering and intermarrying in the pagan land of Egypt; Messianic Jews dreaming of the Apocalypse; and a Jewish historian, Josephus, who witnessed first-hand the moment when the apocalypse finally came and the Romans destroyed the Jewish High Temple in Jerusalem.
Series: The Story of the Jews

First Celts

   2015    History
The Celts - one of the world's most mysterious ancient people. In Britain and Ireland, we are never far from our Celtic past but in this series Prof. Alice Roberts and archaeologist Neil Oliver travel much further afield, discovering the origins and beliefs of these Iron Age people in artefacts and human remains right across Europe, from Turkey to Portugal. What emerges is not a wild people on the western fringes of Europe, but a highly sophisticated tribal culture that influenced vast areas of the ancient world - and even Rome". Rich with vivid drama reconstruction, we recreate this pivotal time and meet some of our most famous ancient leaders - from Queen Boudicca to Julius Caesar - and relive the battles they fought for the heart and soul of Europe. Alice and Neil discover that these key battles between the Celts and the Romans over the best part of 500 years constituted a fight for two very different forms of civilisation - a fight that came to define the world we live in today. In the first episode, we see the origins of the Celts in the Alps of central Europe and relive the moment of first contact with the Romans in a pitched battle just north of Rome - a battle that the Celts won and that left the imperial city devastated.
Series: The Celts: Blood, Iron, and Sacrifice

The Joy of Mozart

   2015    Art
Tom Service plunges into the life and times of Mozart to try and rediscover the greatness and humanity of the living man in his moment. Mozart's prodigious output and untimely death have helped place him on a pedestal that can often blind us to the unique brilliance of his work in the context of his life and times. Service visits the key cities and rooms in which Mozart lived and worked, plays some of Mozart's original instruments and scores, and gradually uncovers the brilliance and originality of his work." There is the prodigious childhood when Mozart was feted as an infant phenomenon around Europe's most glittering courts, and his golden decade in Vienna in which masterpiece followed masterpiece - operas, symphonies, piano concertos, string quartets - as if this short, high-voiced man-child must have been taking dictation from some divine source, until his death at the age of just 35 in 1791. Even more than the music, Mozart's tragic demise sets the seal on his myth. The trajectory of Mozart's life sets the template for the romantic paradigm whose throes we are still in today, which requires our creative heroes to die young to prove that they were too good for this madding world, whether it be Wolfgang Amadeus or Jimi Hendrix. Service travels from London to Vienna and Salzberg, unpicking the living, breathing genius that was Mozart. With Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Nicola Benedetti, Paul Morley and others.

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles

   2014    Culture
This documentary looks at the remarkable genius of Orson Welles on his centenary - the enigma of his career as a Hollywood star, a Hollywood director (for some a Hollywood failure), and a crucially important independent filmmaker. Orson Welles's life was magical: a musical prodigy at age 10, a director of Shakespeare at 14, a painter at 16, a star of stage and radio at 20, romances with some of the most beautiful women in the world, including Rita Hayworth. His work was similarly extraordinary, most notably Citizen Kane, (considered by many to be the most important movie ever made), created by Welles when he was only 25. In the years following Citizen Kane, Welles's career continued to change as he made film after film (some never finished, many dismissed) and acted in other projects often to earn money in order to keep making his own films. Magician features scenes from almost every existing Welles film, from Hearts of Age, (which he made in a day when he was only 18 years old) to rarely-seen clips from his final unfinished works like The Other Side of the Dream, The Deep, and Don Quixote, as well as his television and commercial work.
The Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht

   2007    History
Blood of the Vikings
Blood of the Vikings

   2001    History
The Sky at Night
The Sky at Night

   2018    Science
Human Planet
Human Planet

   2011    Culture
The Planets
The Planets

   2000    Science
A History of Christianity
A History of Christianity

   2011    History
The Story of India
The Story of India

   2007    History
Wonders of Life
Wonders of Life

   2013    Science