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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

Blood Of The Vikings: Rulers

   2001    History
Julian Richards recalls how, after years of raiding, England's resistance was so weakened that, in the early 11th century, the Vikings were finally able to seize the throne. In other parts of the British Isles however, they gained and maintained power by integration.
Series: Blood of the Vikings

The Glory of Byzantium

   2007    Art
Andrew Graham-Dixon travels to Istanbul to immerse himself in the tumultuous world of the Byzantine Empire. He decodes the iconography of the art of the period and explains its continuing relevance.
Series: Art of Eternity

The Ming

   2016    History
The tale of one of China's most famous dynasties begins with the amazing story of Hongwu, a peasant rebel who founded one of greatest eras in Chinese history. The film takes us to his great capital Nanjing, with its 21 miles of walls, each brick stamped with the name of the village that made it. Following the trail, we go to the Bao family village and see the villagers act a Ming murder story.
Like many authoritarian states, the Ming were obsessive about architecture. We see the giant fortifications of the Great Wall, the ritual enclaves of the Forbidden City in Beijing and travel with bargeman Mr Hu down the Grand Canal, China's great artery of commerce right up to the present day. We then hear about Admiral Zheng He's voyages to Africa and the Gulf decades before Columbus, watch the construction of an ocean-going wooden boat 250ft long, and hitch a ride on a replica Ming junk in the South China Sea.
As state prosperity grew, so did a rising middle class. Wood looks at Ming culture in Suzhou, the 'Venice of China'. Staying in a merchant's house, he discovers the silk, ceramic and lacquer-making industries, and visits one of the most beautiful gardens in the city. Then on to Macao and the arrival of Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci, who hoped to convert China to Christianity. In the cathedral in Beijing, we learn more about these fateful exchanges with the west. Finally in Shaoxing, we visit the house of the 'Ming Proust' and at grassroots the Zhao family in Fujian where the film ends in an elegiac mood with the fall of the Ming in 1644.
Series: The Story of China

Clash of the Gods: Beowulf

   2009    Culture
The story of the Viking world's most famous warrior, the legend of Beowulf is the ultimate tale of courage. Pit against thirsty invaders, barbaric monsters and a fire breathing dragon, Beowulf emerges as Norse mythology's greatest hero. But could this warrior have actually been real? Unearthed burial mounds and ancient carvings suggest the myth of Beowulf might have been more than epic legend.
Series: Clash of the Gods
Senna
Senna

   2010    Culture
Brian Cox Adventures in Space and Time
Brian Cox Adventures in Space and Time

   2021    Technology
Clarkson Farm
Clarkson Farm

   2021    Nature
The Beauty of Maps
The Beauty of Maps

   2010    Art
Human: The World Within
Human: The World Within

   2021    Medicine
The Mind Explained
The Mind Explained

   2019    Medicine
Dirty Money
Dirty Money

   2018    Culture
Minimalism
Minimalism

   2015    Culture