Examine the process of "destructive creation"-the idea that fear, rivalry and conflict strengthen community bonds while stimulating an arms race of technological progress. The result is civilization. Ancient Mesoamerica exemplifies this development.
North Korea is like no other tyranny on earth. It is Orwell's 1984 made reality. The regime controls the flow of information to its citizens, pouring relentless propaganda through omnipresent loud speakers. Free speech is an illusion: one word out of line and the gulag awaits. State spies are everywhere, ready to punish disloyalty and the slightest sign of discontent.
D-Day is a success, but now the Allies face the challenge of breaking out of the dense hedgerows of Normandy and into open country. They face highly motivated and experienced German soldiers, including Waffen SS units, who make them pay dearly for every yard they advance. The savagery of the fighting also takes a high psychological toll on Allied soldiers – much more so than on German troops who have been subjected to years of indoctrination. But in the end, Allied material superiority takes its toll. General Patton arrives to lead the charge into open country. German soldiers start to surrender in ever greater numbers, and the road to Paris is suddenly open.
Simon discovers surprises in Istanbul as it rose to become the imperial capital and Islam's most powerful city. Visiting the great mosques and palaces built by the Ottoman emperors, he tells the stories behind them - of royal concubines, murderous bodyguards and sultans both the powerful and the depraved. He shows how the Christians, Muslims and Jews of the city once co-existed before the waves of nationalist rebellions brought the Ottoman empire to its knees. In the 20th century the ancient capital was once more transformed by the new secular vision of Ataturk.
Today it is easy to see D-Day as inevitable - a straightforward victory against a German army that was already all but defeated. This film explodes that myth. It charts the careful planning of the campaign, the development of specialised equipment needed for the amphibious landing. It reveals the deception plan that wrong footed Hitler. It shows how the Americans were very nearly driven off Omaha beach. If that had happened, the whole operation might have failed. The film ends with the Liberation of Paris, as the Free French forces led by Charles de Gaulle matched down the streets of the capital.
Bettany Hughes' series exploring the lives and teachings of influential ancient philosophers draws to a close with a profile of Confucius, who is credited as the first Chinese thinker to take a systematic philosophical approach to issues of social, political and ethical importance. Born during the chaotic Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history, Confucius believed that harmony could be promoted and achieved through the examples of sage rulers. He was also a innovative teacher, and tried to instill his principles of moral excellence in China's elite, but died without seeing his vision for his nation come to pass. However, his philosophies would eventually form the bedrock of Chinese culture, with many of his principles of tradition surviving to this day.
A detailed look at the life of Elizabeth I, the 'Virgin Queen'. Exploring the close relationships with her intimate attendants and the attitudes to and treatment of women at the time, this episode about Elizabeth focuses on her affairs, her diet and her power.