Jeremy Paxman continues his personal account of Britain's empire, looking at how the empire began as a pirates' treasure hunt, grew into an informal empire based on trade and developed into a global financial network. He travels from Jamaica, where sugar made plantation owners rich on the backs of African slaves, to Calcutta, where British traders became the new princes of India. Jeremy then heads to Hong Kong, where British-supplied opium threatened to turn the Chinese into a nation of drug addicts - leading to the brutal opium wars, in which Britain triumphed and took the island of Hong Kong as booty. Unfair trading helped spark the independence movement in India, led by Mahatma Gandhi; in a former cotton spinning town in Lancashire, Jeremy meets two women who remember Gandhi's extraordinary visit in 1931.
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 this first episode we follow the Ottomans rise from obscure beginnings as a nomadic tribe in Anatolia to their game changing conquest of the famed Byzantine capitol of Orthodox Christianity, Constantinople. Julian’s journey begins in Bursa, the Ottomans first capitol city and one of Turkey’s historical gems, where he explores the wealth of early Ottoman architecture and examines the legends, cultural traditions and unique circumstances that helped give birth to an empire.
The transformation of a political leader of the French to Emperor and global statesman, from a son of the French Revolution to husband of the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, the most powerful, conservative, monarchist nation on earth. It features the Battle of Austerlitz, one of the greatest military encounters of the 19th century, the rise of a Napoleonic Empire - at its peak numbered over 40 million people - and the supreme meritocracy that was the Napoleonic regime.
He continues his personal account of Britain's Empire by tracing the growth of a peculiarly British type of hero - adventurer, gentleman, amateur, sportsman and decent chap - and a peculiarly British type of obsession - sport, the empire at play. He travels to East Africa in the footsteps of Victorian explorers in search of the source of the Nile; to Khartoum in Sudan to tell the story of General Gordon - a half-crazed visionary who 'played the game' to the hilt; to Hong Kong where the British indulged their passion for horse racing by building a spectacular race course; and to Jamaica where the greatest imperial game of all - cricket - became a battleground for racial equality.