If this episode teaches us anything it’s that revolutionaries come in many different forms. All thirteen of our subjects have been pioneers and leaders in their fields and have changed everything, from the way we watch films to how we connect and work. For some the word revolutionary might only be a title but for others, such as Castro and Ghandi, it is far more real. This episode of heroes and villains features some of the most famous and infamous faces of the twentieth century.
The early years of Bin Laden, from timid Saudi schoolboy to revered freedom fighter. The first episode begins with Osama Bin Laden's schooldays in Saudi Arabia. He grew up in a wealthy family, loved westerns and soccer, and avoided fights in the schoolyard. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, like many Arab men, he joined the resistance to liberate the country from the occupying forces. In Peshawar, Pakistan, just across the Afghan border, he sets up a "service bureau" and uses his connections to organize money for the fight. He keeps promising his mother not to go into battle himself, but then joins the mujahideen commander Sayed Wahidyar, who is only called "Fearless". According to Wahidyar, bin Laden is initially a burden because he has no idea about fighting. The wealth he inherited and the family's connections to the construction industry come in handy when he begins to build much-needed infrastructure such as roads, warehouses and clinics on his own. In the Battle of Jaji, the Soviet troops were finally repulsed with the help of the experienced Afghan mujahideen - a decisive victory for bin Laden, which resulted in the superpower's final withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988. It is the beginning of a myth fueled in part by Bin Laden himself. His supposed military success gives him enormous prestige. In the same year, Bin Laden founded Al-Qaeda. The die is cast.
In August 2020, a plane travelling from Siberia to Moscow made an emergency landing. One of its passengers, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was deathly ill. Taken to a local Siberian hospital and eventually evacuated to Berlin, doctors there confirmed that he had been poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent implicated in attacks on other opponents of the Russian government. Vladimir Putin immediately cast doubt on the findings and denied any involvement. While recovering, Navalny and his team unravel the plot against him, finding evidence of the Kremlin’s involvement, and prepare to go public with their findings.
2022 • People
From Brazilian favelas to dusty Congolese villages, from neolithic Scottish isles to modern soccer pitches, explore the little-known origins of our favorite sports. Cross time, languages and continents to discover how the ball has staked its claim on our lives and fueled our passion to compete.
2015 • People
Against all odds, African-American chemist Percy Julian became one of the great scientists of the 20th century. The grandson of Alabama slaves, Percy Julian met with every possible barrier in a deeply segregated America. He was a man of genius, devotion, and determination. As a black man he was also an outsider, fighting to make a place for himself in a profession and country divided by bigotry—a man who would eventually find freedom in the laboratory. By the time of his death, Julian had risen to the highest levels of scientific and personal achievement, overcoming countless obstacles to become a world-class scientist, a self-made millionaire, and a civil-rights pioneer.