China is growing at a breakneck pace and racing to keep up with demand. As new cities are built and current ones expand, the country is pushing the limits of technology and innovation. On an aerial tour over megacities like Shanghai and Beijing, discover how the population works, travels, plays, and adapts to China's exploding economy and massive urban transformation.
In the far south west of Japan, there is a chain of islands stretching towards the tropics - a place where all life is influenced by the power of the sea, and where volcanoes and typhoons are forces to be reckoned with. The journey begins at an island at the top of the chain and travels south, revealing unexpected stories of isolation, unique wildlife and unsolved mysteries.
On board a timeless dahabiya cruise boat, the historian sets off on a 900-mile adventure up the Nile to Egypt's southern border, seeing the country as the ancient Egyptians once did. She arrives at Egypt's gateway to the world - the Nile's mouth - then meets the crew that will guide her upstream. A visit to the Cairo Museum and its collection of Egyptian mummies follows, before Bettany braves the underground tunnels of a collapsed pyramid.
The actor begins the next part of his journey on Mundoo Island, which has provided shelter and a way of life for five generations of one farming family. Martin Clunes joins Colin and Sally Grundy for a day of cattle mustering. He also explores Phillip Island, one of Australia's favourite playgrounds, then heads south to King Island, in the blustery Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia. Martin completes his odyssey with a visit to see one of the region's most iconic creatures, the Tasmanian Devil
The final leg of Ade's tour of Africa sees him travelling from the beaches of Mozambique, through South Africa, before ending his entire trip in Zimbabwe. He begins on the golden sand beaches of Mozambique's Bazaruto Archipelago, one of Africa's highlights. At Paradise Island, he finds an abandoned hotel, a visual reminder of Mozambique's recent history - this place was once a high-end tourist destination, but 25 years of colonial and then civil war put a stop to development. But the local wildlife has benefited from the fact that so few tourists now come here, and Ade is able to snorkel with one of the world's most elusive sea creatures - a dugong. Since the wars, Mozambique has struggled to develop, and Ade meets someone for whom life is especially hard – a wheelchair user like himself. In a country where disability is viewed with fear and superstition – and believed by many to be contagious – even catching a bus proves impossible for Castigo. The best thing in his life is exactly the same thing that turned Ade's life around - wheelchair basketball - and Ade can't help getting carried away in a game. Along the coast, at one of Mozambique's largest ports, Ade finds out that China is investing a huge amount in Mozambique – and elsewhere across Africa. The money often comes with strings attached, but a poor country like Mozambique needs financial help, which has to come from somewhere. Ade's next stop is South Africa. The country is famous for its wildlife but Ade hears how Chinese influence is having a dramatic impact here – the country's rhino population has been decimated by poachers, driven by a demand for rhino horn in Chinese medicine. Ade follows rangers with a surprising way of tackling the problem - by cutting off the rhino horn themselves, they hope to deter poachers. Ade travels to Johannesburg to see how the country is faring 25 years after apartheid ended. On a tour of the city, he is upset to discover that although the black population now have voting rights, they are living in an economic form of apartheid, with 25% unemployed and many squatting on whatever land they can find. In an emotional scene, Ade visits a squatted piece of land, moments after the police have destroyed people's houses, to hear claims that Mandela's legacy has been forgotten. Land reform is the big political issue here today, with many calling for a redistribution of land from rich white farmers to the black population. The final stop on Ade's African adventure is Zimbabwe – where land reform has already happened, with disastrous results. Ade finds a country still struggling economically. His first stop is the Kariba dam, and a hair-raising boat ride on the vast and stunning Lake Kariba. Ade finds that locals are worried about the stability of the Kariba dam and work has begun to stabilize undermined foundations. The worrying decay of this crucial dam is a sign of how much this country suffered under the rule of Robert Mugabe. As Ade has seen so often on his trip around Africa, Zimbabwe is a country that should be rich. It has huge quantities of gold – enough, in theory, for the entire population to be a millionaire. But there isn't the infrastructure of investment to get at it - in a country dogged by poverty and corruption. But the departure of dictator Robert Mugabe brought a new optimism, and Ade meets gold miners who are willing to risk daily exposure to toxic mercury for every scrap of gold they can get and an entrepreneur who believes the industry can be transformed. Despite the return of violence and repression in Zimbabwe, Ade ends his journey on a high, visiting a remote hut that has been turned into the set of a music video. He joins UK indie musician Shingai Shoniwa as she shoots the video for her forthcoming debut single, Coming Home, in a country that she believes is on the up, and deserves a fresh chance.
The second leg begins in Siberia and takes him to Russia's far south west and the majestic Caucasus Mountains. From Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake on Earth, Simon takes the Trans-Siberian Railway to the city of Krasnoyarsk, the scene of brutal violence in the 1990s, and now the location of a cafe paying homage to Vladimir Putin. Simon is introduced to a Siberian community that worships a former traffic cop they believe to be the reincarnation of Christ. Along with a rare interview with the messiah himself, Simon meets some of the daughters of his followers being educated to become future brides of worthy men. After encounters with Tuvan throat singers and Cossack street patrols, Simon visits Dagestan, a largely Muslim region that has been scarred by jihadist violence. He meets security forces who use highly trained dogs to tackle the terrorist threat, and villagers attempting to keep their ancient tightrope-walking traditions alive.