Tuesday, January 31, 2006

THE SS: Heydrich

Hitler called him "the man with the iron heart", SS men, with a shudder of respect, "the blonde beast". As head of the Security Police and the SD (Security Service), Reinhard Heydrich was in command of the killing squads which, behind the front lines, in Poland and in the Soviet Union, shot hundreds of thousands whom he regarded as "racially and nationally undesirable".

Although originally not a National Socialist, Heydrich soared swiftly to the top of the SS hierarchy, being appointed personally by Hitler to become the youngest SS Obergruppenführer and head of police.

On July 31st 1941, he was commissioned by Göring to prepare "the administrative material and financial measures necessary for the final solution of the Jewish question". He thus became the architect of the Holocaust.

He authorised Adolf Eichmann, his "specialist", to work out a large-scale deportation programme which would take Jews from all over Europe to the extermination centres in the East. Heydrich created the infrastructure which made the Holocaust possible.

In Prague, as Reichsprotektor, he was commissioned by Hitler to pacify with an iron hand the restless "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia". The Czech government in exile in London thus decided to eliminate Heydrich.

On May 27th 1942, agents who had been parachuted into Prague carried out an assassination attempt on Hitler's man in Prague. Eight days later, the "nation's garbage collector", as his wife called him, died of his wounds.

The SS exacted vengeance by wiping out the entire village of Lidice. The murder of the Jews by the central government was conducted, in memory of the hangman, under the cover name "Aktion Reinhard".

"Man is the most perfect beast of prey", said Heydrich. What drove him to send millions of people to their deaths? Film documents from private archives show scenes from Heydrich's private life - we see what he was doing while the Holocaust was wreaking destruction.

SHOOTOUT: World War II Assault on Germany

In 1944 General Eisenhower's order was short and to the point: Destroy the German army. If successful, the Allied forces would win the war in Europe. To the soldiers that meant defeating a foe bent on defending his homeland at all cost.
This programme recounts and re-enacts the vivid combat experiences of Allied soldiers who participated in one of the greatest military campaigns of World War II - the assault on Germany.

Through interviews, archive footage and re-creations, veterans share their graphic memories of assaulting the Siegfried Line, the formidable German border defence system; fighting in the Hurtgen Forest, a dark, dense wooded area that rendered tanks and air power useless; and sewing up the Ruhr Pocket, an industrial region where some of the most intense fighting in the European theatre took place.

The veterans' deeply personal stories explain what it was like to shoot and kill the enemy and conquer Germany one pillbox, one troop shelter, one hill top and one town at a time.

They shed tears over lost comrades and reveal the awful effects of combat, including the psychological stress that still haunts them sixty years later.


To the U.S. and the Soviets, Afghanistan has always been a pawn in a much bigger game. Both countries have used Afghanistan for their own gain since the late 1970’s.

The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. A peace agreement between the two countries wasn’t signed until February 1989, when Afghanistan defeated the Soviet Union.

Infighting between Mujahideen, an Afghan guerrilla movement (originally formed in 1978), and Najibullah's regime continued throughout this period, until 1992 when the Mujahideen took Kabul and liberated Afghanistan. Najibullah was protected by UN.

The Mujahideen formed an Islamic State and Professor Burhannudin Rabbani was elected President. In 1994 the Taliban militia were born and advanced rapidly against the Rabbani government. In 1995 massive gains were made by the Taliban and in the following year the Taliban militia forced President Rabbani and his government out of Kabul. After that they captured Kabul and executed Najibullah.

The Taliban oppressed women, forced men to grow beards and ‘Buzkashi’ the Afghan national sport was outlawed. Tensions rose as the Afghan government accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban. The Taliban massacred thousands of innocent civilians.

In 1998 the United States launched cruise missiles at Afghanistan, stating that its intent was to destroy the so called terrorist bases/training facilities used by Osama Bin Laden and his followers.

In 1999 and 2000 the UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1333 were adopted. These resolutions used sanctions against the Taliban on grounds that they offered sanctuary to Osama Bin Ladin and for their continued support of terrorism and the cultivation of drugs.

During 2001 the Taliban continued to torture and kill civilians and destroy ancient historical sites. The world expressed outrage and disgust against the Taliban actions.

On September 11th 2001 suicide attacks on the U.S. killed more than 3,000 people and destroying the World Trade Centre and part of the Pentagon. Following these attacks the United States and UK worked with the forces of the United Front (UNIFSA) to launch air strikes against the Taliban. The U.S. held Osama Bin Laden directly responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Centre, and the Taliban were targeted for protecting him.

Since 2001 a war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban has continued.

This is the Declassified story of how the pieces turned on the players and the jihad (to struggle in the way of Allah) came to Kabul and the streets of New York.

SECRET SUPERPOWER AIRCRAFT: Secret Superpower Fighters

This programme examines the story of Moscow’s 1952 revelation that its air defences and fighter jets were outdated.

Stalin was furious after his MiG fighters were unable to catch British reconnaissance aircraft taking photos of Soviet airbases and called for a total reorganisation of Soviet air defences.

After this incident, Stalin vowed to never let the West have the upperhand again.After the October Revolution of 1917, Stalin, already a member of the central committee since 1912, entered the Soviet cabinet as people's commissar for nationalities and began to emerge as a leader of the new regime. During the civil war from 1918 to 1920 he played an important administrative role on the military fronts and in the capital. He was elected (1922) general secretary of the central committee of the party, enabling him to control the rank-and-file members and to build an apparatus loyal to him. Stalin's significance in the revolutionary movement and his relation to Lenin have been subjects of great controversy. He was highly regarded by Lenin as an administrator but not as a theoretician or leader. Toward the end of his illness, which began in 1922, Lenin wrote a testament in which he strongly criticized Stalin's arbitrary conduct as general secretary and recommended that he be removed. However, he died before any action could be taken, and the testament was suppressed.


Ever since the military started using sophisticated airplanes, they have sought ways to build an aircraft that can fly undetected, manoeuvre like a helicopter and fly like a jet.

The Nazis were the first to pursue the idea of building a disc-shaped aircraft. After the war, the Americans, Canadians and Russians all were able to build aircraft similar to the German prototype, perhaps based on the concepts smuggled out by German engineers.

This episode looks at top secret flying saucer designs of the Air Force, with specific dates, times and locations of flights that may point to the real explanation behind the many UFO sightings beginning in 1947, and why the saucer design was abandoned for stealth technology.


Military planners fear the runway's vulnerability to pre-emptive attack. Their solution - Vertical Takeoff and Landing Aircraft able to launch without runways.

The Cold War's onset led to Western Europe's need to defend from Soviet invasion and the attempts by NATO powers to ensure they achieved aerial superiority over the USSR.

One of the greatest fears was the concept of a pre-emptive strike that would knock out NATO airstrips before their fighters could take off. The solution was vertical take off.

This programme examines the early attempts to produce such an aircarft and the challenges involved in achieving that goal. We turn to the US efforts to build a Vertical Takeoff and Landing Aircraft aircraft, "Pogo" aircraft, the Ryan X-13 Vertijet, F-104, and Sikorsky S-57.

Meanwhile, British designers were developing the P1127, which NATO nearly adopted as the European standard, before political wrangling killed full deployment. Its technology ended up in the Harrier Jump Jet.


They look to the stars, to Earth, and within the human body. They are the UFO research elite that seek answers to the mysteries of the UFO phenomenon.

Their determination, attitude, and methodologies stand strong against ridicule and disbelief. In the end, UFO hunters exhibit scientific evidence that pushes the boundary of modern-day thinking.

At annual conferences, they share findings and are often stunned by the commonality of their cases.

Follow UFO hunters as they search for UFOs and investigate crash sites. Their hunts for physical evidence of UFOs and alien life forms sometimes end up as global wild goose chases, but there are other times, when what they find is just too intriguing....and might just prove that it is possible that we are not alone in the universe.

Whittle: The Jet Pioneer

A documentary on Sir Frank Whittle’s life. Whittle became an apprentice in the Royal Air Force College as a pilot officer after two failed attempts to get in.

Whittle became interested in aircraft propulsion and received his first patent on a jet engine in 1930. While working on an advanced degree at Cambridge University in 1932 he continued to work on turbine power plants.

By 1936 his designs were ready for prototype production and he patented the concept for the by-pass jet engine. Whittle is known for his amazing achievements in the fields of jet propulsion and aircraft development.

The Technology Of Howard Hughes

In this episode of Modern Marvels, we look at the technology conceived or developed by America's first billionaire, Howard Hughes. A passionate aviator, Hughes built and flew planes that broke speed records.

He developed war machines, spy aircraft, and commercial airliners. Engineers, operating under his guidance, enjoyed great success developing guided missiles and satellites for military and commercial uses.

In short, Hughes changed the technology of the modern world. Hughes' innovations in flying began in 1935, when he helped design and flew the fastest airplane in the world, the H-1 racer, at a record breaking 352 mph. Its design pioneered reduction of drag using rivets and joints that were flush with the aircraft's brushed aluminum skin.
Next, Hughes turned his talents to the relatively new commercial airline industry. He bought a controlling interest in TWA, and in 1943, Hughes' company supplied the airline with the Constellation - an airliner developed under Hughes' personal guidance. It was the fastest commercial plane in the world, with a pressurized cabin allowing it to fly above turbulence, making for a more comfortable passenger experience.

Since metal was rationed in the early years of World War Two, Howard Hughes believed his contribution would be in seeking alternative materials to make planes. In 1943, Hughes began to build what would become known as one of his most famous failures the H-4 Hercules, popularly nicknamed the "Spruce Goose."

The aircraft's many technical innovations included a system for laminating birch wood for the airframe, a fire suppressant system, and the first "artificial feel system" in its control yoke. For each pound of pressure exerted on the control yoke by the pilot, the elevator received 1,500 pounds of pressure to move it, creating a tactile response never before attempted in an aircraft.

While the Spruce Goose was in development and under construction, Hughes' passion for alternative airframes drove him to create another wooden aircraft, and it almost cost him his life. On July 7th 1946, he flew the XR-11 reconnaissance aircraft and crashed it. The injuries he sustained required painkillers.
By the time Hughes' Spruce Goose was ready to fly, the war was over. Rather than a wartime necessity, it was an aviation curiosity and albatross. To silence its detractors, Hughes took it up for a flight on November 2nd, 1947. It would be the only time aloft for the so-called "Flying Boat." It never saw service.

Hughes moved on to new markets in military guidance systems and microelectronics and he hired specialists to develop this electronic wizardry for the Air Force and Navy. After World War Two, he was able to grow his company from a four-person operation to a corporation of 80,000 employees. He had the foresight to buy land in Las Vegas, continued to be a power broker in the airline industry, and did it all without keeping a formal office or regular office hours, preferring to work out of whatever hotel suite he happened to be living in.
During the Cold War, Hughes Electronics would become the single largest supplier of weapons systems to the USAF and Navy. Howard Hughes hired the best and brightest to develop electronic weapons control systems, and remote-guided weapons such as the GAR - a Guided Air Rocket that could reach speeds of Mach 2. In 1955, Hughes' companies provided the first air-to-air guided U.S. Air Force missile called the AIM 4F Super Falcon.

In 1963, Hughes companies created and launched SYNCOM, the first geosynchronous communications satellite, enabling continuous live TV broadcast. It allowed the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to be broadcast live.
Despite the impressive heights reached by Hughes' technological empire, his health and mental well-being were in free fall. He began to withdraw from the day-to-day operation of his companies, and took no role in designing new planes, satellites, or war machines.

That is, with one notable exception. In the early 1970s, the CIA asked Hughes to develop a secret ship, the HMR-1 - Hughes Mining Barge 1. Its cover story was to recover manganese from a depth of 17,000 feet, but its real task was murkier. The CIA wanted a sunken Soviet sub brought to the surface. Hughes' ship was called the Glomar Explorer, and it was built in 1973. The salvage operation was partially successful, as the sub broke in half as it was brought to the surface, but the remaining section did include two nuclear torpedoes, cipher and coding equipment, and eight dead Soviet crewmen.
During the last years of Hughes' life he was not seen publicly or photographed, rarely left the hotel suites he occupied, and was terrified of germs. But when he died on April 5, 1976, he left a tremendous legacy in aviation and technology.

Hughes' companies made the Apache military helicopter, a space probe that mapped Venus by radar, and Galileo, the first spacecraft to penetrate Jupiter's atmosphere. A medical institute that he founded does research in nanotechnology and stem cells. Whenever we board a commercial airliner, watch television via satellite, or marvel at America's military might, we might do well to remember the man who flew faster than his peers, took risks that often paid off and sometimes didn't, who was at heart an aviator obsessively dedicated to both the art and the science of flight.

Saddam's Bombmaker

There is only one important defector from Iraq who has lived to tell his story, his name is Khidir Hamza. He spent 20 years developing Iraq's atomic weapons program. Based on a book he co-authored, 'Saddam's Bombmaker', this program will tell the story of a man who not only knows about Iraq's weapons program, but was in Saddam Hussein's trusted inner-circle. In the book, he paints an unprecedented portrait of Hussein - his drunken rages, his women, his cold-blooded murder of underlings, and his unrivaled power. Hamza also tells of his harrowing escape across three continents and his first encounter with skeptical CIA agents.

In The Shadow Of Memory

This film is an exploration of the ongoing effects of tragedy on succeeding generations. It is based on the life story of Jerri Zbiral, whose mother and sister survived the Nazi destruction of the Czech village of Lidice during World War II. The stories had a profound impact on Jerri’s life.
The village of Lidice was destroyed in 1942 in retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a mastermind of Nazi genocide. Hitler chose Lidice as an example of what would happen if anyone chose to resist. All 192 men were murdered, all women sent to Ravensbrûck concentration camp, all but 9 of 91 children were gassed. German soldiers blew up all the buildings and altered the flow of a river so that the landscape would never look the same. Lidice became a symbol of Nazi barbarism before the horrors of Auschwitz were widely known. After the war, 143 women, including Jerri Zbiral’s mother and half-sister returned.
In The Shadow Of Memory includes interviews with survivors, with German visitors to the 50th anniversary memorial, and with Jerri’s family. The film explores how the tragedy was remembered, and the legacy of continued hatred.

The Boys Of H Company

H Company was made up mostly of 18 to 20 year old boys who had been training for this day for over a year. For most of them, Iwo Jima was their first time in combat. The boys knew little of the island. They had seen mock ups in briefings but nothing could have prepared them for what lay ahead on the black sand beaches of Iwo.

Iwo Jima was crucial to the US as an air base for long-range bombing missions against mainland Japan. The Japanese knew the island’s importance and spent years "digging in", preparing for the inevitable US attack.

It would take almost two months and over 60,000 troops to take the island and would leave us with one of the most memorable images of the war - the photograph of U.S. marines raising the flag over Mt. Suribachi, or 'Meatgrinder Hill'.

Through compelling first person accounts, dramatic recreations and archival footage, this intense docudrama follows in the boot steps of the boys of H Company as they fight one of the costliest battles in US History.

DEEP SEA DETECTIVES: The Ghost Ship of New England

On a bleak Thanksgiving weekend in 1898, a trio of tempests engulfed New England, sank hundreds of ships, and killed more than 400 people.

The disappearance of the passenger steamer SS Portland that weekend remains one of New England's worst maritime disasters.

In July 2002, marine archaeologists zeroed in on the paddle wheeler's location, and the dramatic story of the nearly 200 people trapped onboard can finally be told.

Features ROV video of the wreck and interviews with victims' descendants.

DECLASSIFIED: Tiananmen Square

It started out as China's answer to Woodstock, but it ended like Kent State.

Here, using unseen footage and declassified diplomatic sources is the true story of the battles and deaths of 500 young Chinese students: martyrs for democracy at Tiananmen.

This episode of Declassified tells of the birth and death of a movement, and the secret story of how the demonstrators changed China forever.

LOST SHIPS: Galley Of The Gods

Mensun Bound and his archaeological team rediscover the wreck of a Roman treasure ship, lost for nearly 2,000 years, a few miles off the coast of Tunisia in north Africa.

Filmmakers show the team sifting through an ancient ship stuffed to the gills with treasure - examining massive marble columns Corinthian capitals and temple entablature.

Dramatic footage reveals the lost ship’s priceless cargo scattered across the ocean’s bottom.

Digital technology also helps to recreate the final minutes of the ship’s voyage.

DEEP SEA DETECTIVES: Skeleton in the Sand

The riverboat Montana was a "mountainboat" built to carry both passengers and freight in to America's Western Territories and compete with the new transportation threat - railroads.

But a trip along the Missouri River from St. Louis to Kansas City in June 1884 proved to be her last.

Brave the "Big Muddy" as we explore this queen of mountainboats and find out if she carried the seeds of her own destruction.

Our diver's communication gear allows him to share with the archaeologist who first studied the Montana.

The Great Transatlantic Cable

"They were used to having the Atlantic Ocean be two weeks, three weeks, six weeks wide, and suddenly, here it was ten minutes wide."

More than a century before the Internet, a thirty-eight-year-old self-made millionaire gambled on unknown technology, untested materials, and hazardous ocean voyages in a risky quest to wire the world.

Inspired by the telegraph wires crisscrossing the American landscape, New York entrepreneur Cyrus Field became obsessed with an even grander idea: a cable that spanned the Atlantic.

His daring plan to connect the distant continents would call on the best scientists, the navies of two great powers, the labor of thousands, and his own unshakable optimism.

The Great Transatlantic Cable tells the story of a visionary with a seemingly unbreakable will to connect the world. "Imagine a rich guy with absolutely no technological background, no knowledge of the sea, and very little recognition of the scope of the project he was undertaking," comments Axelrod. "What Cyrus Field did have was a keen business sense, amazing vision, and an unrelenting tenacity. In short, he could get things done. His story is truly extraordinary."

In summer of 1858, two continents celebrated. For the first time, a message had been sent in minutes, not weeks, from one world leader, the Queen of England, across the ocean to another, President James Buchanan. "There were huge, spontaneous demonstrations - bonfires, fireworks, street parades," recalls historian Daniel Czitrom, "all essentially sharing in this notion of an American triumph."

Eight days earlier, two ships had parted ways in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, each carrying one half of a 2,000-mile-long cable that would connect North America to Europe. Yet despite seeming success, Cyrus Field wasn't celebrating. The cable in which he had convinced two nations and countless friends and business associates to invest had been laid for just days, and already it showed signs of failure.

Messages began to take hours, not minutes to arrive and even then, large pieces of text were missing. Soon investors' excitement turned to suspicion that the savvy businessman had pulled off a great fraud. But Field had not set out to take anyone's money; he was more upset than they that his cable was not working.

While Field had spent years of his time and much of his own fortune in planning and executing the laying of the cable, he had made the grave mistake of trusting the words of Dr. Edward Whitehouse, an amateur telegrapher who insisted that an incredible force of electricity was necessary to get a message across the ocean. But the high voltage was too much for the cable to handle and blew a hole in the protective outer layer, essentially turning miles of twisted wire into a wet clothesline. Field was forced to start again.

He turned to the brilliant Scottish physicist William Thomson, better known to the world as Lord Kelvin, who helped devise a new plan based on solid physics. Field also faced the challenge of securing funding when a stroke of luck befell the project.

Ship builder Isambard Kingdom Brunel had built the Great Eastern, a ship five times the size of any other that existed, planning to steam from England to Australia without having to re-coal. But the endeavor was a financial disaster. Field cashed in on Brunel's misfortune and bought the bankrupt ship, securing the greatest piece of his puzzle.

Finally, in 1866, a new 7,000-ton cable was spooled onto the ship in London. Fourteen days later, the triumphant Great Eastern entered Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. "If not for Field's efforts, it might have been decades more before the United States and Britain broke the two-week barrier to communication that the Atlantic represented," notes American Experience executive producer Mark Samels. "His work was the genesis of today's global community." From that day well over a century ago, messages have traveled over transatlantic cables with great speed. Direct communication has never been

The Whitechapel Murders: Jack The Ripper

The identity of 'Jack the Ripper', the man who mutilated and murdered a series of 'fallen women' in the Whitechapel area of London in 1888, is one of the most baffling mysteries in the history of crime.
Hoaxes, forgeries and false trails have clouded the hunt for Britain's most notorious serial killer. But now, using the skills of contemporary forensic investigation, David Jessel uncovers sensational new evidence about the man who turns out to have been Scotland Yard's prime suspect. For over a century his name has remained a secret - it may have been suppressed by Scotland Yard detectives who once had him in their grip, but let him slip away.
The trail to find out more about the man leads David Jessel from the slums of the East End to the splendour of Niagara Falls, revealing one of the most exotic figures of the age. Detectives at the time believed he was 'Jack the Ripper'. As this programme shows - they had good reason.


In one of the most ambitious experiments in practical archaeology ever attempted, Stonehenge will be rebuilt exactly as it was 4000 years ago, less than ten miles from the original monument with a grand total of 171 stones.

Stonehenge is the world's most famous prehistoric stone circle and an enduring mystery. Nobody knows how or why the Neolithic Britons built it.

Where did the stones come from and how were they transported to the present site in Wiltshire? How many different types of stone are there, and did they all arrive at the same time? What did they use to sculpt them in to shape?

This programme will answer these questions and also propose and test revolutionary new theories about the engineering techniques of the ancients.

Four of the world's leading archaeological experts carry out practical, groundbreaking experiments in the full size reconstruction to determine exactly what Stonehenge was used for and who the people who built it were.

Did the Druids build it for human sacrifice? Was it a sophisticated astronomical calculating device or even a gigantic burial ground?

The dramatic climax is a recreation of a mystical ritual ceremony celebrating the transfer of life into death at the Winter Solstice 2300BC.

This programme will harness all the available evidence together with the findings of the experiments, to create a stunning supernatural event which will allow the team of archaeologists to provide the definitive answers to how and why Stonehenge was built and what exactly happened there 4000 years ago.

BRUNEL - THE LITTLE GIANT: The Great Western Railway

Richard Wyatt sets off on his journey to the West Country along the route of the GWR.

Parts of the 'God's Wonderful Railway' are so wonderful they have been nominated as a World Heritage Site. That would put it on a par with the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids, and the Acropolis. Yet few rail passengers realise they are experiencing a wonder of the world.

But at Reading Richard reveals that Brunel did not always get it right. His design for a one-sided station was both impractical and dangerous.

Next stop Didcot, where Richard tells the story of the broad gauge railway. This was a Brunel innovation that was technically superior to his competitors and yet would eventually lead to the GWR losing a fortune.

BRUNEL - THE LITTLE GIANT: Paddington Station

Brunel's career begins and ends in London.

Richard Wyatt takes a walk beneath the Thames through the world's first underwater tunnel. Isambard undertook this project with his father, Marc. The story of its construction is the stuff of nightmares.

Isambard's career almost ended before it had begun as he was trapped inside the tunnel when it collapsed. Isambard also built another crossing across the Thames. The Hungerford suspension bridge displayed cutting-edge Victorian engineering.

It was also very beautiful. Here Richard reveals the link that connects Hungerford with two more of Brunel's most famous Bridges: the Clifton Suspension and the Royal Albert Bridge across the Tamar.

Paddington station is one of the most beautiful industrial buildings of any era. Richard meets Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, architect of the Eden Project in Cornwall and the new Bath Spa, who is a great fan of Brunel.

Sir Nick won the contract to restore Brunel's station and this gave him a unique view of the man and his work.

Egyptian Pyramids

There are over 100 pyramids in Egypt. Built during a span of well over 1,000 years, they stand as cultural and engineering marvels of staggering proportions.
They were constructed as tombs for the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. But many other things about these monuments, including the exact methods used to construct them, remain tantalizingly obscure.
The true pyramid exists only in Egypt, though the term has also been applied to similar structures in other countries. Egyptian pyramids are square in plan and their triangular sides, which directly face the points of the compass, slope upwards at approximately a 50° angle from the ground and meet at an apex.
Each monarch built his own pyramid in which his mummified body might be preserved for eternity away from human view and sacrilege. As a result of the lack of sophisticated machinery, the construction of each pyramid took many years and required measureless amounts of building materials and labor.
Entrance into a pyramid is through an opening in the northern wall. A small passage, traversing lesser chambers, leads to the sepulchral room deep beneath the surface. Stone blocks forming a gable divert the weight of the great masonry masses over these chambers.
Though the pyramids were usually built of rough stone blocks laid up in horizontal courses, many were constructed of mud bricks with a stone casing.
The three pyramids of Giza near Cairo, all of the IV dynasty, are the largest and finest of their kind. The Great Pyramid of Khufu or Cheops was designated one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is the largest pyramid ever built. A solid mass of limestone blocks covering 13 acres, it was originally 756 ft along each side of its base and 482 ft high. It has several passages, two large chambers in addition to one beneath the ground level, and two small air chambers for ventilation.


He was a king who died too young, was forgotten by his own people, and went missing for thousands of years.

But Tutankhamen has become the most famous pharaoh of all, known worldwide for the treasures found buried with him - and the mysterious deaths of those involved in his discovery.

82 years after the opening of Tutankhamen's tomb, this episode takes a scientific look at the legend of King Tut's Curse.

The Secret Life Of King Ramses II

The story of the ancient king who led Egypt to unprecedented power and splendour. Ramses II left such ancient marvels as the temple at Karnak and the great rock temple at Abu Simbel.


Many young women yearn to be models. They see it as an easy and glamorous route to fame and fortune, but tragically the dream is often short lived. Infamous Murders examines three cases in which dreams of stardom led to murder.
19-year-old photographic model Judy Ann Dull had been missing for five months when her body was found on the 9th of March 1958, half-buried in the desert sixty miles from Los Angeles. The police investigation had no evidence to go on, until, in October that year, police interrupted a violent struggle between a man and a woman. The man was identified as Harvey Glatman. After searching his house police found photographs of women bound and gagged, including one of murdered model Judy Ann Dull. Glatman told detectives that he enjoyed the suffering of his victims, and he later confessed to three murders. He pleaded guilty in San Diego Courthouse and was sentenced to death.
On the 7th of July, 1983, Vicki Morgan's body was removed from her blood-spattered bedroom. She had been bludgeoned to death. At 3.40am that same night Marvin Pancoast walked into North Hollywood police station and said to the desk sergeant, 'I just killed Vicki'. Pancoast had met Vicki in 1979 at a drug rehabilitation centre, and they had remained close friends until Pancoast moved in with Vicki just three weeks before her death.
He had become impatient with what he described as her constant complaining and overwhelming self-pity. He later pleaded insanity. On the 14th of September the jury found Pancoast guilty of first-degree murder. But a sex-scandal remained, involving Vicki Morgan, government ministers and the editor of Hustler magazine, Larry Flynt.
On the 1st of September 1996 Charles Rathbun was found guilty of the murder of Linda Sobek. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Rathbun had posed as a photographer and taken Linda to the desert outside Los Angeles for a photo shoot. Rathbun claimed that Sobek had been drinking heavily, and that they had had a fight in the car. He claimed he tried to calm her by holding her down with his full body weight.
By the time he released her she had suffocated. He panicked, drove to the Angeles National Park and dumped the body in a shallow grave. Her body was found a week later, and Rathbun was heavily punished for her death.

Win a copy of PC game ‘Diplomacy’

The History Channel are offering you the chance to win a copy of the PC version of classic board game ‘Diplomacy’.
Set in early 20th century Europe, this PC adaptation brings the power struggles of seven mighty nations to life like never before. Its abstracted and simple gameplay puts the focus on the need for shrewd negotiations and overall strategy.
‘Diplomacy’ maintains the fundamental rules of the board game and is easy to learn yet hard to master.
With life-like opponents, or with friends via the internet, gamers can take on the 20th century’s mightiest nations at any time on their PCs.
Use ambassadors to further your ambitions: play nations against one another or form alliances to secure land and riches. Use either the pen or the sword – ‘Diplomacy’ offers a multitude of different ways to play and win.

HISTORY'S HOT SPOTS: On The Frontlines - America'sCitizen Soldiers

This hour-long documentary on the National Guard and Army Reserve focuses on the changing role of these units in American national defence. The show begins with the Louisiana National Guard, many of whom were in Iraq when Hurricane Katrina devastated their home state.
From there, the show transitions into the changing role of the Guard and Reserves and focuses on how the "weekend warrior" reputation no longer applies. We speak to Reservists and Guardsmen who discuss, among other things, joining the service for college money and ending up on year-long, extremely dangerous tours of duty in Iraq.
We hearken back to the early days of the Guard and Reserve, explaining their initial formation and delving into some specific units with especially interesting histories. We speak to Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who lost an arm as a member of the 442nd Infantry, and to various historians who specialize in the history of the Guard and Reserve.
We hear from Guardsmen whose lives changed on 9/11, when they headed to Ground Zero and eventually were deployed overseas. We discuss the current controversy regarding the availability of the Guard in the U.S., and address some of the issues these "part-time" soldiers face. Lt. Gen. James Helmly, head of the Army Reserve, speaks to us at a memorial ceremony for a fallen Reservist, and addresses the controversial leaked memo in which he calls the Reserve a "broken force."
Finally we discuss the issue of Army Reserve recruiting and speak to General Helmly about how he intends to change the focus of recruitment materials. The personalities of Reservists and Guardsmen like Ray Ramirez and Paul Rieckhoff shine through as they discuss their experiences both at home in the US and in Iraq.

Hitler - The Rise Of Evil: Episode 1

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". Edmund Burke.
Robert Carlyle stars in this four-hour, fact-based mini series exploring the early life of Adolf Hitler and his rise through the ranks of the National Socialist German Worker's Party.

Carlyle's mesmerising portrayal grips from the start and his ascent to power is put into context amidst the embittered, politically fragmented and economically fragile German society that existed after World War I.
'Hitler: The Rise of Evil' begins by tracing the young, developing mind of a burgeoning madman, following him through his formative years and how he evolves into the man who exploited a nation, which cried out for a leader they could follow.

Motivated by anger and misdirected by ego, Hitler struggles in a world he believes owes him something, enticing Germany in a macabre dance of surrender and control.

Emerging from WWI after a stint in the German Army, he accepts their offer to infiltrate and spy on the German Workers' Party. Their nationalism and anti-Semitism match Hitler's virulent personal politics so he strikes while the iron is hot, and by draping his agenda in mythical legends of Aryan superiority, he makes the iron even hotter by repeatedly striking it.

Finding his foothold in politics, Hitler begins his ruthless climb to power and brutal seduction of Germany. At first, he draws in the support of Ernst Röhm from the German Army, who forms the militant SA.

Hitler then attracts socialites Ernst and Helene Hanfstaengl, who help polish his image and fund his political efforts. He also manages to attract the attention of journalist Fritz Gerlich, as he manipulates the fears of politicians like President Hindenburg.

On the side, his malignant charisma appeals to women, at first his young niece Geli, and then, Eva Braun. The powerful try to use him, the wealthy prefer to dismiss him, but every one of them underestimate him.

Through the birth of the Nazi Party, the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, the charge of treason which turns him into a national figure, his time in Landsberg Prison and the writing of Mein Kampf, and his reintroduction to politics as the leader of the National Socialists, the story follows Hitler's rise from wayward young man to presidential candidate to Chancellor.

As the Reichstag burns in 1933, German democracy sighs its final breath and everyone who has been pulled into Hitler's vortex realizes the hideous truth of what has been created - only now, it is too late to change it.

The Fourth Protocol

The principal theme of The Fourth Protocol freezingly feasible: with today's technology it is possible to construct a small, basic atomic bomb in a dozen components, smuggle it piece-by-piece from any Eastern Bloc country into a rental house on your street and let it go with a timer-device. No four-minute warning, no counter-strike, no radar alert, no identification of the perpetrator--just a nuclear explosion in a basement apartment. Only the components need government laboratories with nuclear capability; the assembly is straightforward with DIY tools.
So why do it? In signing the secret Fourth Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968, America, Russia and Britain agreed never to do it because we would then all be vulnerable to a living nightmare. Now someone is trying to breach the Fourth Protocol.
Plan Aurora was hatched in a remote country house in northern Russia between the Chairman of the KGB, a chess grand¬master and a British renegade. Reason? To detonate a small nuke on a Yankee air base in Britain, unleash a wave of anti-Americanism over all Europe and provoke the Europeans to kick America out. End of NATO.
Round Plan Aurora the main characters play their roles: the brutal General Govorshin, head of the KGB; the urbane and cunning General Karpov, excluded from the Plan, aware of it nonetheless, appalled at its recklessness, biding his time; Major Petrofsky, lean, charming and totally lethal, the man Govorshin sends to Britain to assemble the pieces and trigger the weapon.
On the other side are Sir Nigel Irvine, the wily and devious head of British foreign intelligence, Karpov's opposite number, suspecting the Plan, calculating odds in the great power game; Brian Harcourt-Smith, toffee-nosed head of British Counter Intelligence, convinced the suspicions are ridiculous.
Between them is John Preston, tough ex-Para turned spy catcher, tenacious, angry, prepared to break all the rules to hunt down the mysterious Soviet agent he knows to be "out there somewhere".
It's a movie about raw power, cynicism in high places, loyalty and betrayal, the ever-shifting game plans of espionage, deception and deliberate disinformation, tacit deals, the expendability of underlings; at stake is the success or failure of the biggest and deadliest confidence trick ever played. When the climax comes, and Preston peels away the onion-layers of deception, the answer is not what you expect . . .
Just nine small components smuggled into England from the Eastern Bloc--that's all it takes to piece together an atom bomb no more than three feet tall and nine inches wide. It's a tidy little package—with potentially untidy consequences for a U.S. Air Force base and two square miles of Britain. If the bomb should be detonated, the Americans will be blamed, the outcry will force the U.S. military out of Europe and NATO will crumble.
Today's technology makes such a bomb all too possible. Living undercover in England to make that possibility a reality is the KGB's top agent, the charming, ruthless Major Petrofsky (Pierce Brosnan), while pitted against him is British agent John Preston (Michael Caine), prepared to break every rule to get his man but taking time to be with the young son he loves so.
Basing the screenplay for The Fourth Protocol on his best-selling novel of the same name, Frederick Forsyth has brewed up a good old-fashioned thriller--a tale of betrayal, loyalty, cynicism in high places, deception and more deception.
Co-starring in the Lorimar Motion Pictures Release are Joanna Cassidy as the Soviet scientist sent to England to assemble the bomb, Ned Beatty and Ray McAnally as KGB generals who stumble onto the plot being hatched by others in the spy organization and Anton Rodgers as a British traitor who is "turned" by his countrymen to pass bogus secrets to the Soviets.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Top Ten Films From Real Stories

A good movie starts with a good story. Not surprisingly, some of the best stories come from real life. While many films are authentic, others bring new meaning to the phrase 'artistic license.' Still, they all stem from reality. Of course, which movies are deemed noteworthy is a matter of personal interest and individual preference. In no particular order, here are some of the best films from real stories. In no particular order.
1. Lawrence of Arabia Although he hoped to leave a legacy of letters rather than action, moviegoers will forever remember T.E. Lawrence as the larger than life character played by Peter O'Toole in this 1962 epic film. Director David Lean creates a sense of journey by having almost all of the movement in the film go from left to right. The desert naturally lends itself to the romance and mystery of the film, and after 228 minutes, Lawrence is still as much of an enigma as he was at the beginning of this winner of seven Oscars. Some argue this is the beauty of the film, while others see it as its downfall. The movie places fifth on the American Film Institutes' list of the 100 Greatest Movies.
2. GandhiTo do justice to a man of Mohandas K. Gandhi's character must be an intimidating undertaking, but actor Ben Kingsley, a relative unknown to the box office crowd in 1982, pulled it off earning him the Best Actor Oscar and Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. What's wonderful about this film is its intimate portrayal of a man as a husband and father, as well as a revolutionary anti-violence leader.
3. MaskBased on the life of Roy "Rocky" Dennis, a teen with a terrible facial deformity, Mask demonstrates the scope of human behaviour—from cruelty to compassion to heroism. The characters, Cher as Rocky's mother and Eric Stoltz as Rocky, are raw and honest.
4. Schindler's ListDirected by Steven Spielberg and the winner of seven Oscars and countless other rewards this dramatic 1993 movie is about Oskar Schindler, a Nazi party member who saved over 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust. Based on Thomas Keneally's novel by the same name and filmed in Poland, its power derives from staying faithful to a passionate and treacherous story.
5. The UntouchablesIn 1987, The Untouchables ushered in an era of mob movies and brought the mean streets of Chicago to the big screen. Based on Eliot Ness's autobiography, Kevin Costner plays Ness, a federal agent trying to bring down Al Copone's liquor operation during prohibition. The movie's only fault is that reality could not live up to the lavish and beautifully crafted recreation directed by Brian De Palma.

World War II

It began in 1939 as a European conflict between Germany and an Anglo-French coalition, but eventually included most of the nations of the world. It ended in 1945 as the most destructive war in human history, leaving a new world order dominated by the U.S. and the USSR.

Black History Month

February marks the beginning of Black History Month - an annual celebration that has existed since 1926. But what are the origins of Black History Month? Much of the credit can go to Harvard Scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who was determined to bring Black History into the mainstream public arena. Woodson devoted his life to making "the world see the Negro as a participant rather than as a lay figure in history." In 1926 Woodson organized the first annual Negro History Week, which took place during the second week of February. Woodson chose this date to co-incide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln - two men who had greatly impacted the black population. Over time, Negro History Week evolved into the Black History Month that we know today - a four-week-long celebration of African American History.

The History of Valentine's Day

Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday? The history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Yasir Arafat

Chairman of the PLOThe difficult decision that we reached together . . . required great and exceptional courage. On September 13, 1993, the first peace accord between Israel and Palestine was signed in a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. With U.S. President Bill Clinton presiding, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres hesitantly shook hands with PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat after signing an accord granting Palestine limited self-government on the Gaza Strip and in Jericho on the occupied West Bank. The historic agreement, which promised an end to decades of bloodshed and animosity, was hammered out during secret talks in Norway between representatives of Israel and the PLO. In 1994, Rabin, Peres, and Arafat followed up the Israel-Palestinian Declaration of Principles with a formal peace agreement and, on October 14, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. One year later, on November 4, 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish right-wing fanatic during a peace rally in Tel Aviv.

Albert Einstein

physicistThe development of this frightful means of destruction was ardently demanded by the perils of the time and situation. Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity revolutionized man's view of the universe and made possible quantum theory and ultimately the development of the atomic bomb. In fact, it was a letter from Einstein himself that convinced U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide funding for the secret U.S. atomic program. As a German-born Jew, Einstein fled Germany for the United States after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler seized power in 1934. In the summer of 1939, fellow expatriate physicists Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, and Edward Teller, profoundly disturbed by the lack of American atomic action, enlisted the aid of the Nobel prize-winner Einstein, hoping that a letter from such a renowned scientist would help attract Roosevelt's attention. Einstein, a life-long pacifist, agreed to the venture because of his fear of sole Nazi possession of the deadly weapon, a possibility that became especially troubling after Germany ceased the sale of uranium ore from occupied Czechoslovakia. After reading Einstein's letter, Roosevelt created the Uranium Committee, and in 1942, the highly secret U.S. atomic program became known as the Manhattan Project. On July 16, 1945, an international team of scientists successfully tested the world's first atomic bomb in the desert of New Mexico, and on August 6 and August 9, two U.S. atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, resulting in the eventual deaths of over 200,000 people. Albert Einstein deplored the use of the deadly weapon against the population centers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and after the war urged international control of atomic weapons.

Crew and mission control of Apollo 9

The hatch is closed and locked. Good show. On March 3, 1969, in preparation for the first lunar landing mission, Apollo 9 was launched on a ten-day mission to test the lunar module and its rendezvous and docking capabilities. Orbiting the earth at a height of 120 miles, astronauts James A. McDivitt, David R. Scott, and Russell L. Schweickart ran the lunar hardware through an intensive series of tests and procedures. On March 6, Schweickart engaged in a thirty-seven-minute space walk to test the Apollo space suit and hatch operation. On March 13, Apollo 9 safely returned to earth, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean. Two months later, the astronauts of Apollo 10 took the first complete Apollo spacecraft around the moon in a dry run for the scheduled July landing mission. Then, on July 16, with the world watching, Apollo 11 was launched on the first lunar landing mission. Four days later, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

Neil A. Armstrong

U.S. astronautThat's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. On July 20, 1969, at 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from earth, gave a brief statement before stepping of the Eagle landing module and onto the moon. Back on earth, close to a billion people were listening. A moment later, Armstrong put his left foot into the powdery lunar surface, took a few steps, and humanity had walked on the moon. Another astronaut, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, joined him a few minutes later, and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with U.S. President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By early the next morning, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. They slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. on July 21, the Eagle began its ascent back to the Apollo 11 command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plague that read: ‘Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the Moon--July 1969 A.D--We came in peace for all mankind.’ Later that afternoon, Aldrin and Armstrong successfully docked with the command module, which was piloted by a third astronaut, Michael Collins. On July 24, the three men returned to earth, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

1922: Insulin injection aids diabetic patient

In Toronto, Canada, Leonard Thompson becomes the first person to receive insulin as treatment for diabetes. Diabetes has been recognized as a distinct medical condition for more than 3,000 years, but its exact cause was a mystery until the 1920s. In the early 20th century, the only way to treat the fatal disease was through a diet low in carbohydrates and sugar and high in fat and protein. Instead of dying shortly after diagnosis, this diet allowed diabetics to live for about a year. A breakthrough came at the University of Toronto in the summer of 1921, when Canadians Frederick Banting and Charles Best successfully removed the pancreas-secreted protein insulin from test animals, producing diabetic symptoms, and then began a program of insulin injection that returned the animals to normalcy. This experiment confirmed their theory that diabetes was caused by a lack of insulin, which metabolizes sugar. With the aid of other scientists, Banting and Best extracted insulin from the pancreases of cattle from slaughterhouses and began treating Leonard Thompson. The teenager improved dramatically. By 1923, insulin had become widely available, saving countless lives around the world.


The story of the first and longest roll call in the camp’s history, which occurred on 6/7 July 1940. The second transport to Auschwitz had just arrived. Approximately 1500 people were forced to endure the roll call.
The Nazi torturers showed what they were capable of and established the rules that would apply in the camp.
The place where this roll call occurred, between the first and third barracks, appears today exactly as it did in 1940. Images include several drawings illustrating the roll call as well as camp photographs of prisoners whose testimonies we will quote.


July 1926, South Florida. The luxury cruise ship, Queen of Nassau, leaves Miami for Tampa. Twenty-four hours later, a violent explosion - sending the crew scrambling for their lives.

In only 8 minutes, the ship is gone, not seen again until she's discovered in 2001. But the wreck beneath the waves conflicts with the crew's accounts of the sinking, and a mystery emerges.

Deep Sea Detective John Chatterton joins forces with NOAA's Maritime Archeology Division and the National Undersea Research Center to uncover what really happened to the Queen of Nassau. Now, 78 years later, will the truth finally be revealed?

Titanic: A Tale Of Two Journeys

This stunning and visually rich programme follows the winner of The History Channel's competition as he sets off to dive on the Titanic. Subtly interweaving his modern day journey on the research vessel Keldysh with the story of the original fateful voyage of the Titanic, the programme takes a fresh look at the great ship and her unfortunate passengers.
The History Channel follows competition winner Rob Goldsmith and his father Danny to the very spot in the Mid Atlantic where nearly 100 years ago the Titanic sunk. Rob has been obsessed with Titanic since the age of eight and this is his dream come true - to travel 12, 500 feet to the bottom of the ocean, bringing him face to face with the wreck of Titanic; and he is only one of a handful of people who have been fortunate enough to see the great liner, and this was made possible by the Akademik Keldysh, a Russian research ship that operates two of only five deep sea submersibles that can descend to such depths.
'Titanic: A Tale of Two Journeys' accounts the remarkable life of the boat and the people who survived and perished that cold April night, with brand new images from the wreck it self, never before seen on Television. Two emotional journeys with one thing in common: Titanic.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

VANISHINGS: The Amazing Story Of Shackleton

While attempting to lead the first expedition across the whole of the Antarctic continent, Shackleton and his team disappeared. What happened?

1966: Indira Gandhi leads India

On January 19, 1966, Indira Gandhi becomes prime minister of India. She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, who led India from independence in 1947 until his death in 1964. In 1967, Indira won a narrow election victory and, as a result, had to rule with a deputy prime minister until 1971, when she won a resounding reelection victory. That year, she ordered India's invasion of Pakistan in support of the creation of Bangladesh. She initiated new ties with the Soviets, nationalized leading banks, and curbed class privileges, but also faced charges of police-state tactics. In 1977, she left the prime minister's office after three terms but was reelected in 1980. When militant Sikhs seeking independence for the state of Punjab occupied their holy temple in 1984, she ordered a controversial government assault that killed hundreds. In retaliation, Sikh members of her own bodyguard group assassinated her on October 31, 1984.

UFO FILES: Britain's Roswell

Over three nights in December 1980, Air Force personnel stationed at a NATO installation in England witnessed strange lights in the sky above the RAF Bentwaters and Woodbridge bases.

On the night of the 25th December, when servicemen spotted a glowing object in the woods, they investigated and came across a triangular metallic craft. One of them touched it and recorded strange etchings in his notebook.

It shot above the treetops and the men were later found in a daze by other troops. Two nights later, the Deputy Base Commander and a team investigated the alleged site, and saw lights over a field beyond the woods and a red object. It sped off, beaming lights over the bases.

Some witnesses allege the use of force and sodium pentothal during interrogation. A memorandum issued by the Deputy Base Commander, which recorded some of the statements, was later released via the Freedom of Information Act.

More files were released in 2002 but, to this day, the events remain a mystery. We'll try to unravel it.

HOW LONDON WAS BUILT: How London Was Built - Part 2

Palaces and Bridges: London's most recent palaces were built not for royalty but for the general public. In this programme historian Adam Hart Davis takes a look at the building of Alexandra and Crystal Palaces and the Palace of Westminster and traces how architecture on a grand scale started to be used to provide buildings for the general public.

Crystal Palace was the subject of an intense competition to decide on the design for the building that would house 'The Great Exhibition' - Joseph Paxton came up with an a revolutionary way of building with prefabricated cast iron and glass sections and his design was an enormous success. It paved the way for leisure centres and theme parks, one last remnant of his design being the recently restored dinosaur park- an idea more than a hundred years ahead of its time.

The programme will also look at the original People's Palace - Alexandra - and its history of fires, historic television broadcasts and hippy happenings and at the amazing gothic edifice of Sir Charles Barry's Palace of Westminster.

Bridges have played a vital part in the creation of modern London and this programme examines these crucial crossings, from Tower Bridge to the recently completed Hungerford foot bridges.

For centuries there was only one bridge traversing the Thames - London Bridge. In the 18th century the king decided to have another built but was unwilling to spend his own cash and so decided to fund it by a lottery it became known as the 'Bridge of Fools' due to the many financial and technical problems that included parts of the foundations being swept away during construction.

Pierre Lablaye's design was eventually completed nearly twenty years after the first Royal Lottery. It confounded its critics, who said it's design was flawed, by surviving an earthquake in 1753. This programme will also look at the amazing hydraulics inside Tower Bridge and at another Lottery funded bridge beset by technical problems- the Millennium Foot Bridge, better known as the Wobbly Bridge.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pierson Dixon

British Ambassador to the U.N.Her Majesty's government and the French government have intervened. On October 29, 1956, in response to Egypt's nationalization of the Suez Canal and barring of Israeli shipping, Israel launched an attack on Egypt and its Arab allies. In a lightning strike, Israeli forces under General Moshe Dayan seized the Gaza Strip and drove through the Sinai to the east bank of the Suez Canal. On October 31, Britain and France, whose diplomats were expelled from Egypt and ships were barred from the Suez, entered the conflict in a coalition with Israel, demanding the immediate evacuation of Egyptian forces from the Suez Canal Zone. That day, the British ambassador to the United Nations was heard defending the aggression. The Suez Canal, which stretches 101 miles across the Isthmus of Suez, connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas, was first completed under the direction of French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps in 1869. The canal rapidly became one of the world's most heavily traveled shipping lanes, and in 1882, British troops invaded Egypt, beginning a forty-year occupation of the country, and a seventy-five-year occupation of the Suez Canal Zone. During the early 1950s, Egyptian nationalists rioted in the Canal Zone and organized attacks on British troops, and on July 26, 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdal Nasser nationalized the canal, setting off the Suez Canal Crisis. The international community expressed outrage at the hostilities, and Britain, France, and Israel agreed to withdraw as an U.N. emergency force was sent to the area. By the spring of 1957, all troops had departed and the Suez Canal passed into Egyptian hands.

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. TrumanWe know that what is at stake is nothing less than our national security and the peace of the world. On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces launched an invasion of South Korea across the 38th parallel. President Harry S. Truman immediately ordered U.S. forces to Korea and on June 27 announced to the nation and the world that America would intervene in the Korean conflict in order to stem the spread of communism. The next day, the Security Council met, and in the absence of the Soviet Union, which was boycotting the council, a resolution was passed approving the use of force against North Korea. On June 30, Truman authorized the use of U.S. ground forces in Korea, and on July 7, the Security Council recommended that all U.N. forces sent to Korea be put under U.S. command. The next day, General Douglas MacArthur was named commander of all U.N. forces in Korea. In the opening months of the war, the U.S.-led U.N. forces rapidly advanced against the North Koreans, but in October, Chinese Communist troops entered the fray, throwing the Allies into a general retreat. On July 27, 1953, a peace agreement was signed ending the war and reestablishing the 1945 division of Korea that still exists today. American casualties in the Korean War were 170,000 killed, wounded, or missing in action.

Gary Francis Powers

I followed instructions and will follow instructions again. On May 1, 1960, an American U-2 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft was shot down over central Russia, forcing its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, to bail out at 15,000 feet. The CIA-employed pilot survived the parachute jump from his crippled aircraft, but was picked up by the Soviet authorities, who immediately arrested him. On May 5, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced the capture of the American spy, and vowed that he would be put on trial. After initial denials, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower admitted on May 7 that the unarmed reconnaissance aircraft was indeed on a spy mission. In response, Khrushchev cancelled a long-awaited summit meeting in Paris, and in August, Powers was sentenced to ten years in a Soviet prison for his confessed espionage. However, a year-and-a-half later, on February 10, 1962, the Soviets released him in exchange for Rudolph Abel, a Soviet spy caught and convicted in the United States five years earlier. Upon returning to the U.S., the CIA and the Senate cleared Powers of any personal blame for the incident. On March 8, 1962, he spoke with the press for the first time.

Pope John Paul II

The quest for freedom cannot be suppressed. On October 5, 1995, Pope John Paul II addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the occasion of the U.N.'s fiftieth anniversary. Reaffirming his support of the ideals and goals of the U.N., the pope praised the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and called for the U.N. to become the moral center of a family of nations. It was the pope's second appearance before the U.N., the first being in 1979, less than a year after his investiture. Pope John Paul II, born as Karol Wojtyla in Wadowice, Poland, was the first Polish pope in history and the first non-Italian pope in 456 years. Fluent in seven modern languages and Latin, the pope fully embraced his role as ambassador of the Roman Catholic Church and has traveled more extensively than any other pope in history. Known for his staunch anticommunism, the pope was an outspoken supporter of democratic movements in his native Poland and elsewhere during the 1980s.

Radio Budapest

Our troops are engaged in battle with the Soviet forces. On October 23, 1956, in response to the recent backlash against reformist premier Imre Nagy, Hungarian students and workers took to the streets of Budapest in demonstrations against Soviet domination and Communist rule. Within days, the uprising escalated into a full-scale national revolt, and the Hungarian government fell into chaos. Nagy joined the revolution and was reinstated as Hungarian premier, but his minister János Kádár formed a counter-regime and asked the U.S.S.R. to intervene. On November 4, a massive Soviet force of 200,000 troops and 2,500 tanks entered Hungary. Here, Radio Budapest is heard reading a statement by Nagy in which he charges the Soviets with attempting to overthrow Hungary's ‘lawful democratic government.’ Nagy took refuge in the Yugoslav embassy but was later arrested by Soviet agents after leaving the embassy under a safe-conduct pledge. Nearly 200,000 Hungarians fled the country, and thousands of people were arrested, killed, or executed before the Hungarian uprising was finally suppressed. Nagy was later handed over to the Kádár regime, which convicted and executed him for treason on June 16, 1958. On June 16, 1989, as Communism crumbled in Hungary, Nagy's body was officially reburied with full honors. Some 300,000 Hungarians attended the service.