The Cuban Missile Crisis was one of the defining moments of the mid-twentieth century and of the presidency of John Kennedy. How did the two Cold War powers of the USSR and the USA come to the point of threatening nuclear war?
A series of battles in France had an impact on modern day Europe and the fates of three countries down to our modern century. What might have happened if Richard the Lionheart had not been wounded? Or Philippe Auguste of France had fled the battlefield?
2016 • History
The choices that Kong Qui, known in the West as Confucius, made during his career as a civil servant and administrator influenced an entire civilization. What if Kong Qui had been as opportunistic and corrupt as other officials? How might the fate of China and its worldview be changed?
2016 • History
Elvis Presley paid $4 to record two songs for his mother and the rest, as they say, is history. But without Elvis, would rock and roll have gone the same route? And how have the many iterations of rock and roll developed and changed our taste and culture since the 1950's?
2016 • History
Picture the last two hundred years without the publication of Darwin's "On The Origin of Species" -- how might the scientific conversation have developed? What were the influences in Victorian England during Darwin's youth, and how tenuous was his opportunity for sailing on the Beagle's voyage?
2016 • Nature
The battle between the French and English for the French territory of New France hinges on the presence of the British navy. And the Battle on the Plains of Abraham is tipped to Great Britain by the solidly trained soldiers of the British army. This changed the landscape of North America.
2018 • History
In the 15th century, an inventor in a workshop in Strasburg came up with a machine that would eventually change the history of the entire world and shake a religion to its core. The choice of the first work to be printed is an astute one: Saint Jerome’s Latin version of the Bible.
2018 • History
Archaeologist and historian Richard Miles looks at the winners, losers and survivors of the great Bronze Age collapse, a regional catastrophe that wiped out the hard-won achievements of civilisation in the eastern Mediterranean about 3,000 years ago. In the new age of iron, civilisation would re-emerge, tempered in the flames of conflict, tougher and more resilient than ever before.
In the final part of his personal account of Britain's empire, Jeremy Paxman tells the extraordinary story of how a desire for conquest became a mission to improve the rest of mankind, especially in Africa, and how that mission shaded into an unquestioning belief that Britain could - and should - rule the world. In Central Africa, he travels in the footsteps of David Livingstone who, though a failure as a missionary, became a legendary figure - the patron saint of empire who started a flood of missionaries to the so-called 'Dark Continent'. In South Africa, Paxman tells the story of Cecil Rhodes, a man with a different sort of mission, who believed in the white man's right to rule the world, laying down the foundations for apartheid. The journey ends in Kenya, where conflict between white settlers and the African population brought bloodshed, torture and eventual withdrawal.
Continuing his fascinating journey to rediscover the central role played by the Ottoman empire in Europe and the Middle East, Rageh Omaar explores the huge contrasts in the times of two very different Ottoman sultans. The most famous Suleiman the Magnificent in the golden age of the 16th century and the troubled reign of Abdul Hamid II in the 19th century when the Ottomans were dubbed 'the Sick Man of Europe'. Rageh examines the cultural legacy as well as the physical, religious and political architecture of Ottoman rule to find out what a Muslim world run from Europe was really like. It reveals the backdrop to the relationship between Islam and Europe today, how the Ottomans became central in the power politics of Europe and what could have happened had they succeeded in their successive bids to seize Vienna, then a key European capital.
As France fell to the German armies in May 1940, 300,000 Allied troops were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. Their annihilation seemed certain - a disaster that could have led to Britain's surrender. But then, in a last-minute rescue dramatized in Christopher Nolan's recent film, Royal Navy ships and a flotilla of tiny civilian boats evacuated hundreds of thousands of soldiers to safety across the Channel - the legendary "miracle of Dunkirk." Now, NOVA follows a team of archaeologists, historians, and divers as they recover the remains of ships, planes, and personal effects lost during the epic operation. With access to previously classified files recently released by the UK government, they also uncover the truth behind the myths of Dunkirk - notably, a claim that the Royal Air Force failed to protect the stranded men from the Luftwaffe's constant bombing of the beaches. Featuring an exclusive excavation of a newly-found Spitfire wreck, NOVA debunks the myth and highlights the essential role that the RAF's iconic fighter played in reversing the desperate stakes that played out in the air above the beleaguered men.
When Rome is sacked by barbarians, Europe enters a Dark Age. But from the fringes of the old empire, two new forces remake the world. The Arabs, funded by a gold rush, unite under the banner of Islam. The Vikings rejuvenate the cities of Europe, travel to America and become Christian knights. The stage is set for a clash of civilisations - the Crusades.