In The First Episode, Witness Kim Il Sung's transformation from guerrilla fighter to brutal dictator of North Korea. How did he build the most controlled society on earth and launch a dictatorship that has lasted for three generations?
Learn how six dictators, from Mussolini to Saddam Hussein, shaped the 20th century. How did they seize and lose power? What forces were against them? Learn the answers in these six immersive hours, each a revealing portrait of brutality and power In Episode Three see why Benito Mussolini was considered a pioneer among 20th century dictators. From undermining judges to indoctrinating children, he forged key tactics for seizing power. He also created fascism, an ideology that would plunge Europe into darkness.
2019 • History
In episode two we explore the Ottoman Empire’s Golden Age and chart the height of its expansion into Europe, climaxing with the 1683 siege of Vienna. The episode opens in Istanbul where Presenter Julian Davison explores the reign of the Empire’s most successful Sultan, Sulieman the Magnificent. A sophisticated ruler, Sulieman not only encouraged artistic and architectural achievement but helped to organise and unify the wide range of cultures and religions across his growing empire.
Alastair Sooke follows in the footsteps of Rome's mad, bad and dangerous emperors in the second part of his celebration of Roman art. He dons a wetsuit to explore the underwater remains of the Emperor Claudius's pleasure palace and ventures into the cave where Tiberius held wild parties. He finds their taste in art chimes perfectly with their obsession with sex and violence. The other side of the coin was the bombastic art the Romans are best remembered for - monumental arches and columns that boast about their conquests. Trajan's Column in Rome reads like the storyboard of a modern-day propaganda film. Sooke concludes with the remarkable legacy of the Emperor Hadrian. He gave the world the magnificent Pantheon in Rome - the eternal image of his lover Antinous, the most beautiful boy in the history of art - and a villa in Tivoli where he created one of the most ambitious art collections ever created.
In the Andes, the Spanish open up the largest silver mine in the world – and mint millions of pesos de ocho (pieces of eight). These coins transform the global economy. They fill the treasure chests of pirates. They fuel a stock market boom. They help pay for the Taj Mahal. As trade booms, millions of people come to the New World as slaves. But a handful of Pilgrims come as pioneers – looking for freedom.
Alastair unpicks the reasons behind the dazzling revolution that gave birth to classical Greek art, asking how the Greeks got so good so quickly. He travels to the beautiful Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, and to the island of Mozia to see the astonishing charioteer found there in 1979, and marvels at the athletic bodies of the warriors dragged from the seabed - the Riace Bronzes. It was a creative explosion that covered architecture, sculpting in marble, casting in bronze, even painting on vases. Perhaps the most powerful factor was also its greatest legacy - a fascination with the naked human body.