Historian Michael Scott begins his journey through Sicily on the slopes of Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano. For the ancient Greeks, the island was a land of gods and monsters - a dangerous and unpredictable world. Michael discovers how 3,000 years ago, the Greeks began to settle on Sicily's east coast - planting their olives and vines and building great city states that soon came to rival even Athens itself. He learns how great battles were fought between the Greeks and the Carthaginians for control of the island. How the Romans made it their first foreign colony and stripped Sicily of its forests to plant vast fields of grain.
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.
In the first of a two-part series, Dr Jago Cooper reassesses the achievements of the Inca Empire. He begins in Peru, where evidence is still being uncovered that challenges preconceptions about its origins and significance. Venturing from the coast to the clouds, he reveals how the Inca transformed one of the most challenging landscapes in the world to ward off the worst effects of the climate, and created sophisticated systems of communication. He shows how one of many independent societies became a commanding empire - not through force, but by using subtle methods of persuasion.
This episode raises questions about the purpose of the pyramids, challenging the story traditional Egyptology tells. See rare footage of six distinct pyramid sites near the Great Pyramid, with evidence of superior technology and sophisticated knowledge of science and the cosmos.
He continues his personal account of Britain's Empire by tracing the growth of a peculiarly British type of hero - adventurer, gentleman, amateur, sportsman and decent chap - and a peculiarly British type of obsession - sport, the empire at play. He travels to East Africa in the footsteps of Victorian explorers in search of the source of the Nile; to Khartoum in Sudan to tell the story of General Gordon - a half-crazed visionary who 'played the game' to the hilt; to Hong Kong where the British indulged their passion for horse racing by building a spectacular race course; and to Jamaica where the greatest imperial game of all - cricket - became a battleground for racial equality.
The fall of Napoleon, a key defining moment in global history, which saw him taken to the remote island of St Helena in the Atlantic Ocean in 1815 as a prisoner of the British. It had taken just a year for the monarchies of Europe, the anti-Napoleonic powers of the world, to destroy him. He trusted the Tsar of Russia - but the Tsar reneged on their deal. He sought revenge by invading Russia in 1812 - but the campaign was a disaster. He sought to defend France against her enemies - but made some grave and ultimately suicidal military misjudgements. Ever since the revolution had taken place in France in 1789, the monarchist nations of the world were out to destroy Napoleon. At the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, they were granted their ultimate opportunity.