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Birth of the British Novel

   2011    Art
Author Henry Hitchings explores the lives and works of Britain's radical and pioneering 18th-century novelists who, in just 80 years, established all the literary genres we recognise today. It was a golden age of creativity led by Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, Fanny Burney and William Godwin, amongst others. Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy are novels that still sparkle with audacity and innovation. On his journey through 18th-century fiction, Hitchings reveals how the novel was more than mere entertainment, it was also a subversive hand-grenade that would change British society for the better. He travels from the homes of Britain's great and good to its lowliest prisons, meeting contemporary writers like Martin Amis, Will Self, Tom McCarthy and Jenny Uglow on the way.

Atlas Maps

   2010    History
The Dutch Golden Age saw map-making reach a fever pitch of creative and commercial ambition. This was the era of the first ever Atlases - elaborate, lavish and beautiful. This was the great age of discovery and marked an unprecedented opportunity for mapmakers who sought to record and categorise the newly acquired knowledge of the world. Rising above the many mapmakers in this period was Gerard Mercator, inventor of the Mercator projection, who changed mapmaking forever when he published his collection of world maps in 1598 and coined the term 'Atlas'. The programme looks at some of the largest and most elaborate maps ever produced, from the vast maps on the floor of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, to the 24 volume atlas covering just the Netherlands, to the largest Atlas in the world, The Klencke Atlas. It was made for Charles II to mark his restoration in 1660. But whilst being one of the British Libraries most important items, it is also one of its most fragile so hardly ever opened. This is a unique opportunity to see inside this enormous and lavish work, and see the world through the eyes of a King.
Series: The Beauty of Maps

One Life on the Limit

   2013    Culture
One Life on the Limit is an action documentary showcasing the glamour, speed, danger and excitement of Formula One Grand Prix racing. Narrated by Michael Fassbender, the film tells the story of the golden age of Formula 1, when the sport became terrifyingly dangerous. In the late 1960s, Formula 1 cars doubled their engine size and sprouted wings, making them incredibly quick, but even more hazardous. With money pouring in from sponsorship and a new worldwide television audience, superstar drivers were born, thrown like gladiators into the ring. The drivers were legendary with charisma and raw talent, but many of them paid the ultimate price. Follow the story of the drivers who raced on the edge and those who stood up to change the sport forever. It is about the greatest show on earth, Formula 1.

Viva Vercingetorix

   2015    History
In episode two, we discover the golden age of the La Tene Celtic warrior and reveal how their world extended as far as central Turkey. But by the middle of the first century BC, the Celts were under threat from an expanding Roman Empire, and the Gallic warrior Vercingetorix would challenge Julius Caesar in an epic battle that would shape the future of Europe.
Series: The Celts: Blood, Iron, and Sacrifice

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 Story of China
The Story of China

   2016    History
D-Day
D-Day

   2013    History
Cosmos
Cosmos

   1980    Science
Engineering the Future
Engineering the Future

   2021    Technology
Nova Wonders
Nova Wonders

   2018    Technology
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works

   2014    Science
Conquest of the Skies
Conquest of the Skies

   2015    Nature
First Life
First Life

   2010    Science