Julius Caesar is the most famous Roman of them all: brutal conqueror, dictator and victim of a gruesome assassination on the Ides of March 44 BC. 2,000 years on, he still shapes the world. He has given us some political slogans we still use today (Crossing the Rubicon), his name lives on in the month of July, and there is nothing new about Vladmir Putin's carefully cultivated military image and no real novelty in Donald Trump's tweets and slogans. Mary Beard is on a mission to uncover the real Caesar, and to challenge public perception. She seeks the answers to some big questions. How did he become a one-man ruler of Rome? How did he use spin and PR on his way to the top? Why was he killed? And she asks some equally intriguing little questions. How did he conceal his bald patch? Did he really die, as William Shakespeare put it, with the words Et tu, Brute on his lips? Above all, Mary explores his surprising legacy right up to the present day. Like it or not, Caesar is still present in our everyday lives, our language, and our politics. Many dictators since, not to mention some other less autocratic leaders, have learned the tricks of their trade from Julius Caesar.
Edward III rips up the medieval rule book and crushes the flower of French knighthood at the Battle of Crecy with his low-born archers. His son, the Black Prince, conducts a campaign of terror, helping to bring France to her knees.
The final programme in the series looks at Romania, where Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu ran a personal dictatorship for nearly a quarter of a century. Abortion and contraception were banned as their rule reached far into the private lives of every Romanian. When communism collapsed and the regime was overthrown, the self-styled 'mother and father of the nation' were executed by a firing squad on December 25 1989.
Bettany Hughes' series profiling the most celebrated thinkers of the Ancient world continues as she turns her attention to Socrates. Heading to Greece, she details how the Athenian philosopher secured a reputation as an influential maverick. She also highlights how his contributions as one of the founders of Western philosophy did not please his detractors, as his outspoken defence of his beliefs ultimately led to his execution.
Where and when does the history of Europe begin? The traces lead to ancient Greece, more precisely to Crete: Here we not only found the first high culture of the continent, but also the founding myth, to which it owes its name: the kidnapping of the princess Europa by the Greek god Zeus.
Archaeologist and historian Richard Miles explores the roots of one of the most profound innovations in the human story - civilisation - in the first episode of an epic series that runs from the creation of the first cities in Mesopotamia some 6,000 years ago, to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Starting in Uruk, the 'mother of all cities', in southern Iraq, Richard travels to Syria, Egypt, Anatolia and Greece, tracing the birth and development of technology and culture.