It's known as the Miracle of Dunkirk: in May 1940, approximately 340,000 Allied troops were trapped with their backs to the sea. Sitting ducks, the troops were subjected to an endless barrage of bombs and bullets as the Luftwaffe apparently bombed at will. The situation seemed hopeless. Then a fleet of ships appeared on the horizon, mostly sent by the Royal Navy but joined by smaller craft captained by plucky civilians. The soldiers were rescued from the beaches and taken safely back to Britain. They would later return to win the war. But behind the Miracle of Dunkirk there's another, hidden story. Soldiers and mariners, angry that they'd apparently been left undefended against the Luftwaffe, blamed the RAF. Historians have long viewed Dunkirk as the RAF's poorest hour. But now, recently released MoD files reveal that, far from being absent, the RAF were suffering massive losses supporting the evacuation.
Professor Darius Arya uses scanning technology to reveal the hidden secrets of ancient Athens. From the buildings on the Acropolis to the silver mines and quarries beyond the city, he investigates the story of the city that gave the world democracy.
The pyramids of Egypt are the most enduring monuments of the ancient world. From underground burial chambers they developed into soaring structures that revolutionized architecture. This film reveals the name of the man who designed the very first pyramid and shows how his ideas were refined and perfected, until pyramids eventually fell out of fashion altogether. The Egyptian pyramids have fascinated us for thousands of years. Who built them, how were they built and why? Experts across Egypt are discovering new information that sheds light on the Ancient Egyptians' pyramids and how they evolved. One theory poses that King Sneferu's Bent Pyramid was not a mistake. Recent discoveries show how the pyramids evolved from a mound of rocks and sand to flat, rectangular mastabas, to the pyramid shape, so famously exhibited in the Great pyramid of Khufu and beyond. Now the archaeology is being taken a stage further with new technology. The film shows how the next generation of archaeologists are finally piecing together the secret pyramid code which might have been used by the Egyptians.
In 73 BC, Spartacus broke out of gladiator school and started the most terrifying slave revolt in Rome's history. Visiting Pompeii, southern Italy and the British Museum, Bettany explores the importance and appalling reality of slavery in ancient Rome and how the revolt played a major role in shaping Rome's political future. She also reveals that not all of Spartacus's followers were slaves.