It is 1918 and the end of WWI. Millions have died, and the world is exhausted by war. But soon a new horror is sweeping the world, a terrifying virus that will kill more than fifty million people - the Spanish flu. Using dramatic reconstruction and eyewitness testimony from doctors, soldiers, civilians and politicians, this one-off special brings to life the onslaught of the disease, the horrors of those who lived through it and the efforts of the pioneering scientists desperately looking for the cure. The film also asks whether, a century later, the lessons learnt in 1918 might help us fight a future global flu pandemic.
Both the Allies and the Nazis were always looking for a single knock-out blow to end the war. Britain's Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris thought the answer might lie in "strategic bombing." The idea was to blow the belt out of Germany's infrastructure and cities. This, he argued, would cripple the Nazis ability to wage a war and the ordinary people would soon lose the will to fight. But it led directly to the tragedy of Dresden, when Allied planes firebombed tens of thousands of ordinary Germans. The Germans believed that the decisive stranglehold would come from their submarines. If they could only cut American supply lines to Britain across the Atlantic, then the Allied effort would collapse. So begun a long game of cat and mouse between U-Boats and British and American convoys.
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.
2018 • History
In 1957, Britain exploded its first megaton hydrogen bomb - codenamed Operation Grapple X. It was the culmination of an extraordinary scientific project, which against almost insuperable odds turned Britain into a nuclear superpower. Featuring access to the top-secret nuclear research facility at Aldermaston, the programme features interviews with veterans and scientists who took part in the atomic bomb programme, some speaking for the first time, and newly released footage of the British atomic bomb tests.
2017 • History
In the name of religious tolerance, Catherine de Medici weds her Catholic daughter, Margaret of Valois, to the young Protestant heir of the Bourbon dynasty, Henry of Navarre. Protestants and Catholics are both in attendance. This event leads to the most infamous bloodbath in France's history.
S2E4 • The Real War of Thrones: The True History of Europe • 2018 • History
Hitler personally arranges for a euthanasia program, underestimating the resistance of the Church. The killing of the mentally ill has to be slowed down, but the extinction of Jews is expanded to an industrial scale. Russian prisoners of war are murdered directly, abused, or left to starve. Most Germans know of these crimes even if they refuse to acknowledge them.
Simon Sebag Montefiore looks at how every event in ancient Rome revolved around religion. From the foundation myth through to the deification of emperors, nothing could happen without calling upon the pantheon of Roman gods. Simon investigates how the Romans worshipped and sacrificed to the gods. He discovers that sacredness defined what was Roman and it was the responsibility of every Roman to play their part in the cult. Even the ancient Roman sewer was holy ground!