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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

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

Telescope

   2016    Technology
A dynamic journey behind the scenes of the next step in the evolution of telescopes: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. A new generation has been inspired to design and build this massive instrument, which is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope and will be a veritable time machine, capable of looking back on the origins of our universe and identifying signatures of potential life on planets far outside our solar system". With unprecedented access to the people and technologies that power its creation, including astrophysicists, engineers at Northrop Grumman, and personnel from NASA'S Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute, the operations center for Hubble and Webb, Telescope spotlights the high-stakes mission of building this massive new scientific instrument. The film is a comprehensive look at the dynamic history of 400 years of telescopes starting with Galileo in 1609. The Webb is the next great telescope in society's ongoing mission to see farther into the universe and answer fundamental questions that have haunted mankind from the beginning of time. Directed by Oscar nominated filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn

Project Greenglow The Quest for Gravity Control

   2016    Science
For centuries, the precise workings of gravity have confounded the greatest scientific minds - from Newton to Faraday and Einstein - and the idea of controlling gravity has been seen as little more than a fanciful dream. Yet in the mid 1990s, UK defence manufacturer BAE Systems began a ground-breaking project code-named Greenglow. Nasa was simultaneously running its own Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project". It was concerned with potential space applications of new physics, including concepts like 'faster-than-light travel' and 'warp drives'. Looking into the past and projecting into the future, Horizon explores science's long-standing obsession with the idea of gravity control. It looks at recent breakthroughs in the search for loopholes in conventional physics and examines how the groundwork carried out by Project Greenglow has helped change our understanding of the universe. Gravity control may sound like science fiction, but the research that began with Project Greenglow is very much ongoing, and the dream of flying cars and journeys to the stars no longer seems quite so distant.

Planet Earth II Grasslands

   2016    Nature    HD
Grasslands cover one quarter of all land and support the vast gatherings of wildlife, but to survive here animals must endure the most hostile seasonal changes on the planet. From Asia's bizarre-looking saiga antelope to the giant anteaters of Brazil, grassland animals have adapted in extraordinary ways to cope with these extremes. In the flooded Okavango, lions take on formidable buffalo in epic battles, on the savannah bee-eaters take advantage of elephants to help catch insects and, on the freezing northern tundra, caribou embark on great migrations shadowed by hungry Arctic wolves.
Series: Planet Earth II
Natural World
Natural World

   2015    Nature
What is the Right Diet for You
What is the Right Diet for You

   2015    Medicine
The Art of Germany
The Art of Germany

   2010    Art
Life In Cold Blood
Life In Cold Blood

   2008    Nature
Seven Ages of Rock
Seven Ages of Rock

   2007    Art
Motivation
Motivation

   2017    Culture
Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial
Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial

      History
Earthflight
Earthflight

   2012    Nature