During the Cold War, tensions between East and West mount alarmingly. In consequence, western intelligence services shift their focus on East Germany as the Warsaw Pact’s major deployment zone.
Alastair explores the surprising roots of Greek art, beginning his journey in Crete at the palace of Knossos, legendary home of the Minotaur. He travels to Santorini to the 'Greek Pompeii', and finds gold in the fabled stronghold of Mycenae and dazzling remains from Greece's Dark Ages. Alastair discovers the beginnings of a defining spirit in Greek art, embracing mythology, a passion for symmetry, and an obsession with the human body.
In 1943 the British and Americans plan the opening of a 'Second Front' in Northwest Europe. Huge numbers of troops, aircraft and ships begin to assemble in England for the invasion of France. They train relentlessly for what will prove the largest amphibious operation in military history. Meanwhile across the Channel the Germans also gather their strength. Hitler sends one of his best generals, 'the Desert Fox' himself Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, to supervise the construction of coastal defences known as 'the Atlantic Wall'. But the Allies retain one crucial advantage that even Rommel's genius cannot compensate for – only the Allies know where and when they will strike.
The series starts with that great paradox. How could the settlement at the end of World War One - the 'war to end all wars' - lead to an even greater conflict just a few years later ? The answer is a tale with terrible resonancy today. This film shows how the Great Depression sapped the will of the democracies of the West to face up to a new and disturbing political phenomenon - the rise of militaristic dictators, in Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain. The result was that the major powers ignored all the warning signs and allowed the likes of Mussolini and above all Hitler to begin the course that would lead the world into catastrophe. The programme ends as Hitler plots his attack upon Poland.
Through the mountains and jungles of Colombia, Cooper goes in search of the truth behind one of the greatest stories ever told - the legend of El Dorado. His journey takes him from Bogota to the Caribbean coast, through territories once dominated by two cultures, the Muisca and the Tairona, who flourished for centuries before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. Cooper reveals forgotten peoples who valued gold in a way the Western world still struggles to understand, travelling to an astonishing lost city and meeting the last survivors of an ancient civilisation.
Alastair concludes the epic story of Egyptian art by looking at how, despite political decline, the final era of the Egyptian Empire saw its art enjoy revival and rebirth. From the colossal statues of Rameses II that proclaimed the pharaoh's power to the final flourishes under Queen Cleopatra, Sooke discovers that the subsequent invasions by foreign rulers from the Nubians to Alexander the Great and the Romans produced a new hybrid art full of surprise. He also unearths a seam of astonishing satirical work, produced by ordinary men, that continues to inspire Egypt's graffiti artists today.