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The Golden Age

   2016    History
This episode tells the tale of what's broadly considered China's most creative dynasty - the Song (960-1279). Michael Wood heads to the city of Kaifeng, the greatest city in the world before the 19th century. Here in Twin Dragon Alley, locals tell him the legend of the baby boys who became emperors. He explores the ideas and inventions that made the Song one of greatest eras in world culture, helped by China's most famous work of art, the Kaifeng scroll, which shows the life of the city in around 1120. A chef makes Michael a recipe from a Song cookbook, while a guide to 'how to live happy, healthy lives for old people', published in 1085 and still in print, is discussed with local women doing their morning exercises. The Song was also a great era for scientific advance in China. Michael steers a huge working replica of an astronomical clock, made by China's Leonardo da Vinci. Then at a crunch Chinese Premier League match, Michael tells us the Chinese invented football! The golden age of the northern Song ended in 1127, when invaders sacked Kaifeng, but they survived in the south. At their new capital, Hangzhou, Wood joins locals dancing by the West Lake, while in the countryside he meets Mr Xie with his records of 40 generations of ancestors. The final defeat of the Song took place in a naval battle in the estuary of the Pearl River in 1279. When all was lost, rather than surrender to the Mongols, a loyal minister jumped into the sea with the young boy emperor in his arms. 'So ended the glory of the Song', Wood concludes, 'but a new age would arise... as in China, it always has!'.
Series: The Story of China

Conquistadors: The Search for El Dorado

   2002    History
Francisco de Orellana failed to find El Dorado, but discovered the Amazon. Early in 1541, a rumor swept Quito that beyond the mountains, there lay a land richer than Mexico, or even Peru - a land of gold. The ruler of this land was so rich that he covered himself with gold dust every day and washed it off every evening. He was "the golden man", El Dorado. They had tree goals: to find La Canela, the land of cinnamon: to assess new lands for colonization; and to find El Dorado. On march 1541, They marched eastwards with more that 200 Spanish troops and thousands of native servants.
Series: Conquistadors

Jason and the Golden Fleece

   2005    History
The Greek tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece has been told for 3,000 years. It's a classic hero's quest tale - a sort of ancient Greek mission impossible - in which the hero embarks on a sea voyage into an unknown land, with a great task to achieve. He is in search of a magical ram's fleece, which he has to find in order to reclaim his father's kingdom of Iolkos from the usurper King Pelias. Michael Wood discovers a story of heroism, treachery, love and tragedy that would make Hollywood proud.
Series: Myths and Heroes

Art of Spain: The Dark Heart

   2008    Art
Graham-Dixon journeys to the country’s scorched centre to explore Spanish art of the 16th and 17th centuries. From the mystical world of El Greco to the tender genius of Velazquez, this was a moment so extraordinary it became known as the Golden Age. But beneath the glittering surface was a dark and savage heart. Travelling from the architectural jewel of Toledo to majestic Madrid, Andrew Graham-Dixon traces the rise and fall of the Spanish Empire, the brutal conquest of the New World, and the religious madness of the Inquisition, to discover how a history so violent could produce some of the most beautiful art ever seen.
Series: Art of Spain

A Passage to India

   2004    Nature
Travelling from K2 in Pakistan to Ladakh in India. It is a short distance as the crow flies but, due to politics, a huge loop. He passes through the Sikh city of Amritsar, with its Golden Temple, and through Shimla with its Vice Regal Lodge, Gaiety Theatre and cosy half-timbered tea-houses. He then meets the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, where the Tibetan government is in exile.
Series: Himalaya with Michael Palin
Blood of the Vikings
Blood of the Vikings

   2001    History
Meet the Romans
Meet the Romans

   2012    History
The Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht

   2007    History
Prehistoric America
Prehistoric America

   2003    Nature
The Life of Birds
The Life of Birds

   1998    Nature
Life
Life

   2009    Nature
A History of Christianity
A History of Christianity

   2011    History