Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Saddam: America’s Best Enemy

Forty years of secrets, incomprehension and incompetence led to the American occupation of Iraq.

Ever since his rise to power in a coup d’état on February 8th, 1963, Saddam Hussein marked the destiny of Iraq and that of the most explosive region in the world: the Persian Gulf.

Yet this man and his country have remained an enigma for the nine successive presidents who have occupied the White House over the same period. He has also represented a constant challenge for the CIA, which, having supported his rise to power, didn’t know how to, nor were they able to, get rid of him.

"America’s best enemy" tells the story of this ambiguous relationship, through accounts given by those who were witnesses to and participants in those decades of violence.

This investigation takes Pascal Vasselin and Jacques Charmelot to London, Beirut, Amman, Bagdad and to Washington, revealing Saddam’s and America’s very peculiar friendship.

THE CIVIL WAR: This Mighty Scourge Of War

This epic recounting of America’s Civil War has been hailed as a landmark in documentary film-making and incorporates more than 16,000 archival photographs, innumerable period paintings, lithographs and newspaper headlines.

These are combined with old newsreels of veterans, contemporary scenes of the battle sites and first-person quotes read by a chorus of extraordinary voices including Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Irons, Morgan Freeman and many more.

The series tells the dramatic story of America’s struggle to preserve the Union and erase the stain of slavery - at the cost of 620,000 lives. What began as a bitter dispute over Federalism and state rights ended as a profound struggle over the meaning of freedom itself.

In this Episode, congress passes the 13th Amendment, confirming the Abolition of Slavery and the inauguration of Abraham Lincon. All around him, the scourge of war was causing famine and destruction but the Confederates won another victory and Lincoln rejoiced quietly in Washington.

Fancy a pair of VIP tickets to Biggin Hill Air Fair

The History Channel is sponsoring the airshow at Biggin Hill and this year's show will feature some fantastic new attractions.

The 'Air Transport and Travel' theme will be well represented by the Air Atlantique fleet of passenger aircraft. The whole fleet are rarely seen together and it is a first for Biggin Hill.

An Air Power demonstration from the RAF and Army will involve jets, helicopters, transport aircraft and troops - ear plugs are strongly recommended!

From the world of aerobatics we have gathered the crème de la crème with Will Curtis in his SU26, the Red Bull Matadors and the brand new 2Excel team led by ex Red Arrows leader Andy Offer.

The Breitling Jet Team, now consisting of six L29 aircraft, will demonstrate their skills in close formation aerobatics. This is just a taster of our 5½ hour flying display.

We've got five pairs of money-can’t-buy VIP tickets for the show that will give you exclusive parking, complimentary breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea with the best view of the flight line - so don't miss out!

Please Note: We will be contacting the winners on Friday morning by e-mail and tickets will be available on arrival at Biggin Hill. Please remember to check your e-mails.

UNDER FIRE: Portrait of Courage

November, 1965, Photojournalist, Dickey Chapelle, a woman who broke into the "boy’s club" to become the first woman photojournalist to cover World War II, as well as every major conflict - from Iwo Jima to the landing of the first US marines in Vietnam. She would eventually die from wounds suffered from a booby trap explosion.

During her two decades in the field, Chapelle was considered one of the most controversial members of her profession. Her daring adventures on the battlefront led on combat patrols with revolutionary guerrilla leader Fidel Castro, to be captured and imprisoned by Soviet agents during the Hungarian Revolutions, and parachuted into Laos with the Green Berets.

But no one loved her more than the United States Marine Corps. She admired them and constantly detailed their role in protecting Ameroca. They considered her one of their own and honour her memory with the annual Dickey Chapelle Award given out by the Marine Corps League National Headquarters.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

GREAT CRIMES AND TRIALS: The Great Train Robbery

On 8 August 1963, a mail train was ambushed in Buckinghamshire. In one of the largest train robberies ever, the gang got away with several million pounds in used bank notes which were on their way to be pulped.

After a massive search most of the robbers were caught and given long prison sentences. But several escaped and fled abroad, and the story of police attempts to recapture them still hits the headlines today.

First Invasion: The War Of 1812

September 11th, 1814. Panic envelopes Washington DC. America is under attack.

British military forces head up the Chesapeake Bay towards the crucial port of Baltimore. In its third year of war with Great Britain, America faces impending doom. The country has no money, no navy, no international airport, and the new capital of Washington DC has been captured and ransacked.

This program explores the real stories behind the war that transformed America from a loose society on the brink of failure to a growing world power.

Through the initiative of a few select men, sheer luck, and the will of a young nation, theWar Of 1812 bears witness to new heroes, leaders, and a clear direction for the foundation of today's America.


In June of 1989, 13-year-old Justin Wiles goes missing from his Tulsa, Oklahoma, home. Justin's mother senses something terrible has happened to her son and files a missing persons report.

Four days later, a mother's intuition proves correct. Local fishermen discover body parts scattered around a nearby lake - body parts that include an arm, torso and head of a male child. Through fingerprint comparison, that child is quickly identified as Justin Wiles.

Finding no murder weapon or physical clues at the lake, Tulsa detectives begin tracing Justin's last steps. They discover that he used to sweep the floors at a local body shop called Choppers, which is owned by Wayne Garrison.

Garrison had been convicted of killing two small children in the 1970s, while he was still a teenager in Tulsa, and served two years. With murder already on his record, Garrison looks like a good suspect.

Tulsa investigators bring him in for questioning, and he denies involvement in Justin's murder.However, he does volunteer the fact that he likes to fish at the out-of-the-way lake where Justin's remains were found.

Police also search Garrison's car and find copper wiring similar to a copper wire found attached to Justin's head. ut forensic testing is unable to match the wires at the time. Although with no physical evidence tying Garrison to the crime, they do not have enough to arrest the convicted child killer.

In 1999, Tulsa re-opens the Justin Wiles case when they learn Wayne Garrison is about to be released from a North Carolina prison on charges of drugging an 11-year-old boy. Detectives want to keep the child predator off the streets and begin digging into the 1989 case file.

Scrutinising an old photo of Wayne Garrison taken during the original investigation, detectives hone in on marks present on Garrison's right arm - marks detectives believe could be teeth marks, possibly made by a small child. They bring in a noted forensic dentist who creates a mold from Justin Wiles' actual teeth. He determines that the mark in the old photograph is consistent with Justin's unusual bite.

Detectives also go back to the copper wire in evidence. Using more sophisticated technology, the crime lab concludes that the wire found attached to Justin's head and the wire found in Wayne Garrison's car are consistent with one another. Police now have enough to make an arrest.

On December 2, 1999, Wayne Garrison is walking out of a North Carolina prison on parole when Tulsa investigators arrest him for the murder of Justin Wilkes. In November of 2001, jurors find Garrison guilty of murder - without hearing about his past crimes.
At sentencing, jurors give him death after hearing about his previous child murder convictions, and Wayne Garrison is packed off to Oklahoma's Death Row.

MAN MOMENT MACHINE: Stormin' Norman and the Abrams Tank

The year is 1991 and General Norman Schwartzkopf faces an unpredictable and dangerous enemy in Saddam Hussein. His weapon of choice - the mighty Abrams M1A1 main battle tank - will face its first test in combat.

This is a land war fought on rough desert terrain. The M1A1, boasts 120 mm guns, new armour design, night vision systems, and onboard nuclear, chemical and biological protection systems.

The sleek M1A1 and Schwartzkopf’s battle strategies will prove decisive. But not before tank and General are both tested to the limit.

In just 100 hours of battle, Schwarzkopf drives the Iraqis from Kuwait and shatters Saddam’s army. The 7th Corps, led by M1A1 tanks, destroy an estimated 1,300 Iraqi tanks. Only 18 M1A1’s are lost.

Schwarzkopf’s strategy for a clean, decisive win pays off. The M1A1 is key in delivering a swift victory and becomes the principal battle tank of the US Military.

Win a Copy of Victorias Wars by Saul David

Aficionados of the Flashman novels by George Macdonald Fraser will be familiar with many of Queen Victoria's early wars. The roll-call of famous (not to say infamous) British actions during the first quarter century of the Victorian era – from the queen's accession in 1837 to the death of her husband Prince Albert in 1861, a period known as the "Dual Monarchy" – is nothing short of extraordinary: the Retreat from Kabul, the Thin Red Line, the charges of the Light and Heavy Brigades at Balaklava, the Cawnpore massacres, the storming of Delhi, the relief of Lucknow, the capture of the Taku forts and the burning of the emperor's summer palace at Peking. Incredibly Harry Flashman was (unwillingly) present on all these occasions - or so Macdonald Fraser would have us believe. In reality, no soldier was or could have participated in all these events. The vagaries of a military career prevented even the most gung-ho from serving in every war. Hence my decision to frame the story with the perspective of two civilians who were constantly involved: Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. The more I dug the more I discovered that the royal couple played a far more central role in foreign affairs and the conduct of war than is generally believed. Where Albert led the queen tended to follow. The obvious cut-off point for the book, therefore, was Albert's untimely death in 1861.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Dark Art of Interrogation

The high-stakes worlds of espionage, terror and psychological warfare collide at specially designed prisons like the one at Guantanamo Bay, where everyday, masters of information gathering practice The Dark Art of Interrogation.

With international restrictions such as the Geneva Convention, what governments publicly and privately acknowledge about interrogation techniques are usually two different things. But world terrorism on the deadly scale of September 11th has given the United States and other governments the rationale to go to new lengths of elaborate psychological manipulation.

The Dark Art of Interrogation takes you inside the shadowy world of men like former CIA Agent Keith Hall, who defends his use of brutal interrogation tactics that left one Lebanese terrorist suspect dead.

You’ll meet men like Michael Koubi, a master Israeli interrogator whose use of theatrics and deception produce exceptional results. We’ll meet Special Forces interrogators such as Bill Cowan whose battlefield interrogations in Vietnam helped save the lives of his men, as well as U.S. POWs who had to endure their own hell on Earth.

What would it feel like to be blindfolded, bound to a chair and threatened with the execution of everyone you love? In The Dark Art of Interrogation, former Afghan and Pakistani occupants of Camp X-Ray and Palestinian suspects interrogated by American Special Forces offer first-hand accounts of their experiences.

Best-selling author and master storyteller Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down) will take you through the moral grey area of a world the U.S. government would rather you didn’t know exist…a place, where everyday, interrogators desperately question and coerce terrorists to unlock the piece of information that could prevent the next 9-11.

Auschwitz: The Forgotten Evidence

When an Allied photo-reconnaissance plane flew over southern Poland in the summer of 1944, it took extraordinary images of the nazi most evil extermination camp of them all - Auschwitz.
From these aerial photos it is possible to see in detail how the SS organised their factory of death, in which 12,000 people were being murdered daily. But the photos were never analysed at the time and were simply filed away.
Using these photos as a unique starting point, this programme takes an entirely new look at the Holocaust by asking what did the Allies know about the Nazi extermination camp? When did they find out about it? And, most importantly, what could they have done to stop the killing?
These photos are remarkable and chilling to look at. The gas chambers and the crematoria are clearly visible. In one of the photos, a train has just arrived and the SS guards are separating the fit looking new arrivals from the young, the old and the less fit who will be gassed and burned immediately.
So as not to panic the new arrivals and to encourage them to go quietly to the gas chambers, the SS even planted parks and gardens by the railway and these too can clearly be seen from the photos. On another, smoke is seen rising from the back of one of the gas chambers because the numbers of bodies to be burned were too many for the crematoria to cope with and the bodies were being burnt in open pits.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill was appalled by reports of the killing at Auschwitz. He called it, "probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world". He implored the RAF to bomb the camps but nothing was done.
This film explores the whole debate about what could be done to bomb the camps looking at all the options that were available at the time and asks the crucial question - why did the Allies not do something to stop the killing at Auschwitz?

DEEP SEA DETECTIVES: Death In The Mediterranean

December 26, 1996. An unlicensed ferry, smuggling 300 Indian, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan illegals to Italy, disappears off Sicily's coast.

Only 29 passengers survive, and they tell a wild tale of being forced onto a rickety ferry by a drunken captain and colliding with a larger ship.

An Italian journalist finances a search using ROVs and finds the decimated ship surrounded by skeletons.

Our detectives return to the scene of the crime to conduct an underwater investigation. Was it an accident or murder?

DECODING THE PAST: Mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle - Part Two

Since the 15th century, the Bermuda Triangle has mysteriously vanished an untold number of ships, planes and lives with three more known incidents in 2004.

Also known as the Devil's Triangle, it is a triangular area in the Atlantic Ocean bound roughly at its points by Miami, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico.

Depending on to whom one speaks, the size of the triangle varies from 500,000 miles to three times that size. It has inspired fear and speculation of evil forces, monsters, magnetic fields and even UFOs.

Now, The History Channel explores new theories about one of the most enduring mysteries in the world.

VANISHINGS: The Romanovs

On March 2, 1917, Tsar Nicholas II, head of the Russian Romanov dynasty, was forced to abdicate after 23 years. The vast country was in the throes of revolution. The Imperial Family was exiled to Siberia, and a year later, moved to Ekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains.

By the summer of 1918, the Tsar, his wife, 4 daughters and son had vanished. Finally, in October 1994, DNA testing put an end to speculation as to the fate of the Tsar and his family. In 1995, their remains were finally laid to rest.

Blenheim - Battle For Europe

In the course of one bloody summer's afternoon in 1704, around the small Bavarian village of Blenheim, the Duke of Marlborough brought an era of French military dominance to a crashing halt.

It was one of the most decisive battles of European history, and it shaped the future of a continent in the space of just a few hours. Yet now, for most, the name Blenheim only brings to mind the baroque splendour of Blenheim Palace, not the battle that saved Europe from tyranny and bigotry.
Marlborough's achievement, for which a grateful and adoring Queen Anne rewarded him with the palace, was truly spectacular. His legendary 200-mile march to the Danube in two weeks, conducted in exemplary order and complete secrecy, has gone down as one of the great military manoeuvres of history.

It was also one of the biggest gambles in military history, with the fate of ancient empires and kingdoms at stake. On the battlefield itself, Marlborough's calm and courage inspired all around him. But as the Duke himself was first to recognise, it was a triumph shared with the brave, disciplined troops of his polyglot army, and with his ally Prince Eugène.

Together, they handed Louis XIV and France a defeat to rank alongside Agincourt and Crécy, and shattered the Sun King's vision of a French super-state. News of the victory was brought to England by a scribbled note on the back of a tavern bill, written in the saddle, and addressed to Marlborough's beloved wife, Sarah Churchill.
To mark the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Blenheim, Earl Spencer, a descendant of the Duke of Marlborough and author of a new history of the campaign, tells the story of his ancestor's famous march to the Danube, and the bloody events at Blenheim on 13th August 1704. This two-part series, premiering exclusively on The History Channel UK, will follow in the footsteps of Marlborough's men, using eyewitness accounts and the latest computer animation.

Spencer will explain how Marlborough's march wrong-footed his enemies, and how the hopes and ambitions of Europe came to hinge on the actions of mere handfuls of men, near the small Bavarian village of Blenheim.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

1895: Wilde guilty of indecency

At the end of a sensational trial, Irish writer Oscar Wilde is convicted of gross indecency in his relations with the son of the Marquess of Queensberry. He was sentenced to two years hard labor. Wilde, whose wit and flamboyance placed him at the center of London social and literary circles, is best remembered for his comic masterpieces Lady Windermere's Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest. In his writing and conduct, he often tested the bounds of the prudish Victorian society of his day, which led to his imprisonment for homosexuality in 1895 at the height of his career. After his release in 1897, he moved to Paris, where he died two and a half years later.
1995Business consortium Camelot wins the contract to run Britain's first National Lottery.
1995Serb forces kill 71 people when they shell the town of Tuzla in retaliation for a NATO air strike on one of their arms dumps.
1994South Africa is allowed to re-join the British Commonwealth after an absence of 33 years.
1990Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and US President George Bush agree to end production of chemical weapons and to begin to destroy stockpiles of chemical weapons already made.
1986Bob Geldof's Race Against Time has 30 million people worldwide running for SportAid to raise money for the starving in Africa.
1974In England, more than 25 are killed in an explosion at a chemical plant at Flixborough.
1973In Greece, the military government abolishes the monarchy and proclaims Greece a republic.
1973British Honduras changes its name to Belize.
1967Glasgow Celtic becomes the first British football club to win the European Cup beating Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon. The following year Manchester United become the first English club to win the trophy.
1962Consecretion of Coventry's new cathedral, designed by Sir Basil Spence. The new church replaces the Cathedral that was destroyed by German bombing during World War II.
1958General Charles de Gaulle becomes Prime Minister of France.
1953Gordon Richards, British champion jockey 26 times, is knighted.
1951British diplomats Burgess and Maclean are reported missing. It is later discovered that both were Soviet spies and had defected to Moscow.
1941World War II: British and Australian forces withdrawn from Crete.
1935American athlete Jesse Owens sets six new world record within 45 minutes at Ann Arbor in Michigan, USA.
1916World War I; The Battle of Jutland between the British and German fleets. Germans claim victory but fail to break British control of the North Sea.
1914In Britain, the House of commons passes the Irish Home Rule Bill.
1871In Britain, the House of Commons passes the Bank Holiday Act, creating public holidays on Easter Monday, Whit Monday and Christmas Day.
1840Britain opens its first Drama School - Miss Kelly's Theatre and Dramatic School in Dean Street, London, which later becomes a theatre.
1796Tennessee becomes the 16th state to be admitted to the Union.
1792Kentucky becomes the 15th state to be admitted to the Union.
1768English navigator Captain James Cook sets off on his first voyage, to explore the Antipodes.
1659In England, Lord protector Richard Cromwell, son of Oliver, resigns his position - leading to the restoration of the monarchy and the crowning of Charles II in 1660.
1944English puppeteer Frank Oz.
1921American songwriter Hal David.
1908British film director David Lean.
1907English inventor Frank Whittle. Designs and produces Britain's first jet propulsion aircraft in 1941.
1889Russian-born helicopter pioneer Igor Sikorsky. Becomes a US citizen in 1928.
1801Mormon leader Brigham Young born in America. Succeeds Joseph Smith as leader in 1847 and sets up an all-Mormon colony in the state of Utah.
1780Prussian Army General Karl von Clausewitz. Serves with the Russian and Prussian Armies in the Napoleonic Wars. Writes detailed theories on the conduct of war and military strategy.
1987Lebanon's Sunni Moslem Prime Minister Rashid Karami is killed in a bomb explosion on board the helicopter flying him from Tripoli to Beirut.
1968Helen Keller. Born blind, deaf and dumb, she becomes an academic and published her journal in 1938.
1943English actor Leslie Howard, star of The Scarlet Pimpernel and Gone With The Wind, is killed over the Bay of Biscay when his plane is shot down by German aircraft on a flight from Lisbon to Ireland.
1934English composer Gustav Holst aged 59.
186816th US President James Buchanan (1857-1861), the first bachelor to be elected President, dies aged 77.
1703English diarist Samuel Pepys.

HMS Victory

For almost 200 years, the ship-of-the-line was the most powerful weapon any country could possess. Built of wood, propelled by wind and firing solid shot from smooth bored muzzle-loading canons, ships like HMS Victory ruled the waves.

In the world's first global conflicts of the 17th and 18th Centuries these wooden walls fought titanic, bloody battles - the largest fleet actions in history - battles that would crush and create empires. Manned by a crew of eight hundred and fifty and capable of firing one and a half tons of iron shot in a single devastating broadside, these eighteenth century floating fortresses were as complex and sophisticated in their day as a nuclear powered aircraft carrier is today.
Now, using colour re-enactment and the actual recollections of those who fought on board, The History Channel goes below the decks of the age of fighting sail's most famous warship, a ship still in commission today. Its name is HMS Victory and it would play a crucial role in the foremost naval engagement in 19th century maritime history, the battle of Trafalgar. This victory was so decisive that no fleet challenged the Royal Navy for more than one hundred years.
Find out how HMS Victory, commanded by Admiral Nelson, the greatest naval strategist ever to walk the quarterdeck, spearheaded the most emphatic naval victory in the history of the Royal Navy.

MAN MOMENT MACHINE: Doolittle's Daring Raid

The Man: Jimmy Doolittle was a celebrated daredevil pilot, one of the leather-jacketed aviation pioneers who flew in open cockpits, a steel-nerved airman with a doctorate in Aeronautical Science. Doolittle was the first to execute an outside loop and the first to ‘fly blind’ using only his instruments to guide him.

In the spring of 1942, Japanese troops smashed their way into Hong Kong and the Philippines. General Hap Arnold needed a man who could pull off what looked like a suicide mission. With Doolittle’s military training and technical expertise, Arnold knew that he was the right man at that pivotal moment in history.

The Machine: This programme will show us a B-25 bomber – the machine chosen for the mission. It was the only high-winged bomber capable of being adapted to meet the mission requirements. Doolittle put his technical expertise to work on modifying the plane, removing the gun turret and adding a fuel tank. We will also examine the bomb bay where Doolittle installed two more custom fuel tanks, almost doubling the plane’s fuel load. The 1,140 gallons added considerable weight to the aircraft, making it more improbable that it could have lifted off from the deck of a carrier at sea.

The Moment: When Doolittle presented his plan to bomb Tokyo few believed the mission would suceed. However, after gaining key support for the mission, Doolittle's squadron was placed on an aircraft carrier and started to make their way across the Pacific, trying to get as close as they could to Japan without attracting the enemy's attention.

When the Japanese spotted the convoy, the decision was made to launch the mission early, making it unlikely that many of the pilots would reach land and survive. The first man to roll down the short carrier runway was Jimmy Doolittle. When he became airborne, the rest of the squadron followed.

The squadron’s bombing of Tokyo and other military centres was a success. The B-25s thundered into the industrial centre of Japan, dropping their payloads of five hundred pound demolition and incendiary bombs. But Jimmy Doolittle and the rest of the squadron bailed out of their planes over mainland China and the coastline. A miraculous number of men survived the bailout and stayed out of Japanese hands. Jimmy Doolittle became an American Hero thanks to the only plane that could complete that mission. Fate’s fusion of Man, Moment, and Machine.


Bomb technology advanced more in the last half of the 20th century than in all of previous human history. The Gulf War of 1991 showcased laser and TV guided munitions that struck with astonishing accuracy.

The last decade has brought even smarter bombs such as Joint Direct Air Munitions and Sensor Fuze Weapons, able to be launched far from the target and hit accurately through smoke or cloud cover.

For centuries, the destructive power of bombs grew slowly, from gunpowder to nitroglycerine to TNT. Then, the two world wars introduced massive aerial bombardment, incendiary bombs that burned whole cities, and instruments like the Norden bomb sight that greatly improved accuracy.

The battle to save the free world from domination lead to development of the atomic bomb, and changed the world forever. From here onward, most fallible man would oversee devices powerful enough to end human civilization.

In Los Alamos, New Mexico, birthplace of the atom bomb, scientists now toil to safeguard America's nuclear stockpile. Meanwhile, terrorists use home made low-tech bombs to threaten civilians around the globe.

No one can say whether the threat of massive nuclear armaments will prevail over the reality of terrorist’s gadgets, but clearly, bombs will continue to play a decisive and devastating role in human affairs.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

UNDER FIRE: Shadow Warriors

It’s 1981 and the Soviet Union has invaded Afghanistan. President Reagan sends in a small, potent team of undercover CIA officers to train Afghan rebels.

Working in dark alleys and traveling on Pakistani military helicopters, Milt Bearden and his team must stay alive and gradually build a network to challenge the Soviets.

Aided by a devastating new weapon, America’s Shadow Warriors fight the Cold War’s last battle even as a greater threat lurks in the background.

SHOOTOUT: S.W.A.T Team Shootouts

Go with SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) in to dangerous territory and follow them as they plan to rescue dozens of hostages held at gunpoint in a bar.

Track their strategy as they get ready to lay siege to an electronics store held captive by four armed men. Learn how they confront a disgruntled employee who threatens to kill a former co-worker.

During the programme, interviews with former hostages and the SWAT officers who saved them will guide viewers minute-by-minute through real-life crises.

The tactics and technology used by the experts are detailed and dramatised, taking those watching along for the ride.

D-DAYS IN THE PACIFIC: The Final Graveyard

With the capture of the Marianas, the US amphibious war had pierced the inner defence ring of the Japanese Empire, and with MacArthur and Nimitz poised to attack the Philippines and islands on the Japanese doorstep, the enemy prepared a fight to the death, one too bloody for America to bear.

None of the warriors who fought their way across the Pacific will ever slight the great Normandy D day. But in some 75 major amphibious operations, Pacific veterans showed the same valour on landings every bit as vital and deadly.

DECODING THE PAST: Mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle - Part One

Since the 15th century, the Bermuda Triangle has mysteriously vanished an untold number of ships, planes and lives with three more known incidents in 2004.

Also known as the Devil's Triangle, it is a triangular area in the Atlantic Ocean bound roughly at its points by Miami, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico.

Depending on to whom one speaks, the size of the triangle varies from 500,000 miles to three times that size. It has inspired fear and speculation of evil forces, monsters, magnetic fields and even UFOs.

Now, The History Channel explores new theories about one of the most enduring mysteries in the world.


This documentary presents, for the very first time, an ensemble of colour images filmed in France during the course of the Second World War.

From German occupation and the harsh reality of civilian daily life during this greatly troubled period to army exercises in North Africa and Great Britain as the Allies prepared for the liberation this film documents the streets, the cafes and the daily life of ordinary civilians.

Covering the joyous scenes of liberation - where soldiers, GI's, civilians, and even some celebrities celebrate the Allied victory - from Hemingway to Clark Gable, passing by Edward G Robinson.

Also included are the horrors of the war and the bodies discovered at Daschau: shocking images that are revealed for the first time.

Enriched with memories from some of the last remaining witnesses of the Liberation, these fragments uncovered from the 1940's finally give us the chance to view the war as millions of people had to live it - in colour.

Hidden House History

If your home could tell its story, imagine what it might reveal...

The History Channel and Ancestry.co.uk present Hidden House History, a project which sets out to help unlock the real stories within our homes. Including a television series, summer road shows and an exciting new website launching at the end of May. The experts show you how to unearth documents, find architectural evidence and follow the clues to answer questions such as when and why was the house built, what was there before, what did it originally look like and who lived there?

For each property the team consider four different elements:

People – who built the house, who lived there before and what are their stories?

Community – how does the building fit into the context of the local community, why was it built in a certain place or in a certain style, what is its place in history?

Architecture – what are the unique or interesting features of the building, the common features of different types of houses and the reasons for particular designs?

Scientific Investigation – scientific ‘detective’ work and forensics to date wallpaper and paint, examine the building materials used and create a timeline of technology used in our homes.

The experts on the case

Dr Nick Barratt’s (Who Do You Think You Are? and History Mysteries) mission is to discover the stories of the people who made the building a home through the years. He uses public archive material (such as census records and title deeds), personal archives (such as home movies and photographs) and people (historians, previous owners and their descendants) to create a family tree of the house and piece together the story of why it was built, former owners and occupants, what happened there and why.

Dr Jonathan Foyle’s (Time Team and History Mysteries) assignment is to investigate the building itself. Jonathan looks for architectural features which reveal how and why each building has changed over time. He uses new technology, forensics, mapping and archaeology to chart the house’s development since it was built. And he turns the clock back to reveal what the building originally looked like, how rooms were used, decorated and lived in and how domestic technology has evolved through the centuries.


The discovery of body parts in a lonely Scottish river began a fascinating trail of detection. This led to a doctor who dismembered his wife and his children's nursemaid.

The Peasants' Revolt

In 1381 the serfs of England turned on their masters, beheaded tax officials, and, as presenter and labour activist Tony Robinson sees it, set the standard for working class dissent in this country.

The armed force that descended on London was no riot; it was an organised revolution with elected leaders and a manifesto for reform. Robinson follows the peasant army’s trail to the site of its defeat, "to restore the people who stood here to their rightful place in history."

Rome: Engineering an Empire

Conquest, Lust, Murder., Revenge, and the power of unrivalled technology, these are the cornerstones in the foundation of the Roman Empire. For more than 500 years, Rome was the most powerful and advanced civilization the world had ever known, ruled by visionaries and tyrants whose accomplishments ranged from awe-inspiring to deplorable.

One characteristic linked them all ambition and the thirst for power that all Roman emperors shared fueled an unprecedented mastery of engineering and labour.

The Romans built magnificent palaces and colossal stadiums that dwarfed anything built previously. They left an imprint on technology that looms large over all that we create, and their advancements in engineering–arches, barrel vaults, domed ceilings, water distribution systems–still influence modern construction.

This documentary chronicles the spectacular and sordid history of the Roman Empire from the rise of Julius Caeser in 55 BC to its eventual fall around 537 AD, detailing the remarkable engineering feats that set Rome apart from the rest of the ancient world.

This documentary features extensive state-of-the-art CGI animation. The insights of engineers, archaeologists and historians from around the globe add rare depth to segments on Hadrian’s Wall, Caesar’s Bridge, the aqueducts, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Baths of Caracalla and more.

We’ll go inside the remains of Emperor Nero’s lavish Golden Palace for a rare look at how one of Rome’s most notorious megalomaniacs lived.

The documentary also features exclusive never-before-seen footage shot on a diving expedition in the water channels underneath the Colosseum channels once used to flood the arena for bloody mock naval battles.


With Nero's death, the dynasty of Augustus comes to an end.

Nero had committed suicide due to a series of revolts, including one by his own Praetorian Guard. Once again, the Empire faces an uncertain future. Rival generals fight for supremacy in the streets of Rome.

A new dynasty brings another tyrant to the throne.

Mount Vesuvius erupts in AD79, burying Pompeii and thousands of people beneath a torrent of ash and mud. The cinders and ashes that preserved the ruins of the city with magnificent completeness—down to the fresh colors of the wall paintings.

The long-forgotten site of the city was rediscovered in 1748 and has been sporadically excavated since that time. The habits and manners of life in Roman times have been revealed in great detail at Pompeii by the plan of the streets and footpaths, the statue-decorated public buildings, and the simple shops and homes of the artisans.

The houses and villas have yielded rare and beautiful examples of Roman art. Among the most famous are the house of the Vetti, the villa of the Mysteries, and, in the suburbs of Pompeii, the villa of the Boscoreale.
A teenager called Pliny the Younger survives the disaster and records the night of terror.

But the Empire weathers the traumas.

As the first century draws to a close, the Emperor Trajan sets the course for generations to come, and projects the collective voice of ancient Rome across the ages.

Born in Spain, Trajan was the first non-Italian to become head of the empire. He was adopted in AD; 97 by Emperor Nerva, who died shortly afterward. A capable man, Trajan set about strengthening his regime by embarking on an aggressive foreign policy.

In two wars against Dacia, he brought that region, the parent of modern Romania, under Roman control. This conquest is commemorated by the sculptured Trajan's Column, which stands in the Forum of Trajan in Rome.

Trajan then annexed Arabia Petraea, and in three campaigns he conquered the greater part of the Parthian empire, including Armenia and Upper Mesopotamia.

On his way home from this campaign, he died in Cilicia. He was succeeded by Hadrian. Trajan was an able military organizer and civic administrator. He partially drained the Pontine Marshes and restored the Appian Way, and at Rome he built an aqueduct, a theater, and the immense Forum of Trajan, containing basilicas and libraries


In this episode, Claudius, the most unlikely member of the imperial family, becomes one of the greatest emperors of the Roman Empire.

He was the nephew of Tiberius, and when Caligula was murdered in 41AD, the soldiers found Claudius, who had been of little importance, hiding in abject terror behind a curtain in the palace. They hauled him forth, and the Praetorians proclaimed him emperor. This act offended the senators, who never forgave Claudius.

It also made him favor the army. He annexed Mauretania and landed in 43AD in Britain, which he made a province. Agrippa's kingdom of Judaea and the kingdom of Thrace were reabsorbed into the empire, and the authority of the provincial procurators was extended.

His wife, Agrippina the Younger persuaded him to pass over his son Britannicus as heir in favour of Nero, her som by a former husband. Agrippina subsequently poisoned him.

A principled philosopher named Seneca finds himself compromised as tutor to the erratic young Emperor Nero.

In Britain, a warrior queen named Boudicca battles Roman legions, and from Judaea, a revolutionary named Paul begins spreading the words of Jesus across Roman lands.

Back in the capital, Nero's disastrous rule shakes the empire to its foundation. In 59AD, he murdered his mother and in 62AD, his wife Octavia. He later married his mistress Poppaea.

When half of rome was burned in a fire in 64AD, Nero accused the Christians of starting it and began the first Roman persecution. In 65AD there was a plot to make Caius Calpurnius Piso emperor. The detection of this plot began a string of violent deaths, e.g., of Seneca, Lucan, and Thrasea Paetus.

Nero had ambitions to be a poet and artist. In &AD; 68 a series of revolts, including one by his own Praetorian Guard, caused him to commit suicide. Among his last words were, What an artist the world is losing in me

The empire is on the edge of disaster.

DECODING THE PAST: Prophecies Of Israel

The Tanakh of the Jews is an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible, equivalent to the Old Testament to Christians.

Within the 24 books of the Tanakh (or Mikra as it was called during the period of its recording) are astounding predictions of the future. Many of the prophets who wrote or appeared in the scriptures prophesied about the fate of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

We'll examine the prophecies and chronicle the birth, death, recent resurrection, and possible future of Israel.

Supported by archival footage and dramatic recreations, on-camera experts representing the three major religions, and secular perspectives, we explore the most significant of these ancient prophecies.

Are the prophecies real? Are they unfolding before our eyes? Who believes, who doesn't, and why?

Mummy: The Inside Story

This is the inside story of how the British Museum in London resurrected an Egyptian mummy in cyberspace.

It starts in the museum basement and ends where nobody has gone before.Egyptologist John Taylor and a team of virtual reality experts from computer giant SGI have transformed the mummified body of Nesperennub - an ancient Egyptian priest - into the world's first virtual mummy.
From a set of 1500 CAT scans they have created a 3-D model of the mummy that can be unwrapped in the computer. The stunning stereoscopic images reveal Nesperennub's body in incredible clarity - and exactly like the embalmers left it in 800 BC.

By going under the wraps of Nesperennub we will journey into the life and times of this ancient Egyptian. Flying through his flesh and bones, we will unlock secrets that have been hidden for thousands of years.

UNDER FIRE: Deadly Reckoning

In 1975 there is one last battle to fight in the Vietnam War. When an American merchant ship is seized by Cambodian pirates, U.S. Marines fresh out of boot camp are sent to rescue the hostages.

Due to faulty intelligence, the Marines land in a kill-zone where they must stand and fight together or lose everything.

This is the inspiring story of the men who made it, and the men who did not - the last 41 names engraved on the wall of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.

THE CIVIL WAR: Gettysburg

This epic recounting of America’s Civil War has been hailed as a landmark in documentary film-making and incorporates more than 16,000 archival photographs, innumerable period paintings, lithographs and newspaper headlines.

These are combined with old newsreels of veterans, contemporary scenes of the battle sites and first-person quotes read by a chorus of extraordinary voices including Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Irons, Morgan Freeman and many more.

The series tells the dramatic story of America’s struggle to preserve the Union and erase the stain of slavery - at the cost of 620,000 lives. What began as a bitter dispute over Federalism and state rights ended as a profound struggle over the meaning of freedom itself.

This episode looks at the epic battle at Gettysburg which took place at the beginning of July in 1863. 150,000 Americans fought each other for three bloody days and almost a third of all the men engaged in the battle were lost: 51,000 in total.

Opus Dei Unveiled

Secretive and cult-like or divinely inspired and misunderstood? A conservative organisation within the Roman Catholic Church, was thrust into an unforgiving spotlight because of the way it was portrayed in Dan Brown’s thriller, "The Da Vinci Code."

Opus Dei claims the depiction is much more fiction than fact, and that it is terribly misrepresented in book. Now, for the first time in its 80-year history, Opus Dei leaders grant unprecedented access to The History Channel as they seek to reveal the truth and unravel the myths surrounding this exclusive and powerful group.

Opus Dei Decoded explores the spiritually demanding and sometimes controversial lifestyle its 85,000 members pledge to maintain.

Founded in 1928 by Spaniard Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, its mission encourages members to find God through work and daily life. With the support of the Franco government, the organization became the most important conservative political and religious force in Spain. Its power and influence found favour with the Holy See when, in 1982, its legal status in the Church was changed to that of a personal prelature – guided by its own statues and answering directly to the Pope.

Opus Dei’s allure is predicted to grow as Pope John Paul II made its founder a Saint on October 6, 2002.

Opus Dei members can be found in 61 countries. The majority of its adherents are lay professionals; doctors, lawyers, journalists and politicians who are also mothers and fathers.

Another fraction is comprised of priests. The organisation’s most orthodox members commit to a celibate life, live in Opus Dei residences, give the majority of their income to the organisation and regularly practice corporal mortification, the infliction of self pain as a holy act of sacrifice.

Members at all levels pledge their service to the organisation for life. Opus Dei Decoded speaks with and gains insight from several current members as they demonstrate how Opus Dei has guided them on a positive spiritual path.

But throughout its modern history, many members have parted ways with organisation; some with a favourable blessing, others felt they were forced out, and a select few sought refuge through traumatic interventions.

Some of Opus Dei’s harshest critics paint a portrait of aggressive recruiting, inequality of the sexes, alienation from families and borderline mind control. Two of these critics are Dianne and Tammy DiNicola, a mother and her daughter who is a former Opus Dei member. They founded the Opus Dei Awareness Network, an organisation to inform the public of what the DiNicolas’ see as the dangers of Opus Dei.

Opus Dei Decoded takes viewers from Opus Dei’s United States Headquarters, to its stronghold in the Midwest and to its lifeblood inOpus Dei’s upper brass, Cardinal Julian Herranz Casado, Father Thomas Bohlin and Father Hilary Mahaney confront accusations that Opus Dei is a secret and clandestine cult; have undue influence and power in government and a pocketbook that controls the Vatican. They also explain the premises and meanings of Opus Dei teaching and practice.

DECODING THE PAST: The Templar Code Part 1, The Crusade for Secrecy

For nearly two centuries, the Knights Templar were the most powerful order in the Medieval world, a fearsome and unstoppable Crusader militia. Then came accusations of unspeakable crimes.

Who were the Templars, really? How did they become so powerful, so fast, and why did they fall just as quickly?

Evidence hints that the Templars excavated under Jerusalem's Temple of Solomon. What did they find there? Was it, as The Da Vinci Code suggests, the true identity of the holy grail, the bloodline of Christ? Or an unimaginable treasure, documented in the Dead Sea Scrolls, buried a thousand years before the birth of Christ?

This hour explores where the Templars came from, how they lived, trained, fought and became a Medieval world power, and the suspicious circumstances behind their sudden downfall.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Charles Bravo

On April 21st, 1876, Charles Bravo, a newly-wed with many enemies, died from antimony poisoning. Julian Fellowes investigates the extraordinary case which scandalised Victorian Britain, and has remained unsolved to this day.

In 1874, Florence Ricardo, was recently widowed and independently wealthy, she started a new life at The Priory in South London. She had a lover, Dr. Gully, an elderly physician with a fashionable spa. The affair flew in the face of polite society, and Florence was shunned by her parents.

Florence discovered she was pregnant and Dr Gully performed an abortion. Florence's companion, Mrs Cox, nursed her back to health, and introduced her to Charles Bravo, a rising young barrister. Although clearly not in Florence's league, marriage to him would have brought reconciliation with her family and London society.

Charles demanded that Florence break off all relations with Dr. Gully. He also wanted proof of her affections and insisted on pre-marital sex. Following a row with her coachman, George Griffiths over his use of antimony, Charles dismissed him from Florence' service. Griffiths uttered a dark prediction that in four months Charles Bravo would be dead.

After the marriage, Charles tries to exert financial control over Florence, who became upset and as a result miscarried her child. Charles received an anonymous letter, accusing him of marrying Florence for her money. The servants pointed the finger of suspicion at George Griffiths, whilst Charles clearly thought Dr. Gully was guilty.

Charles and Florence fought over Dr. Gully and Charles struck Florence. She fled to Buscot but returned because she was pregnant again. Mrs Cox stumbled upon Charles fetching Marsala for Florence. He claimed he was worried that Florence was drinking too much, and that he intended to cure her. He swore Mrs Cox to secrecy.

On the fateful day…. Dinner was an angry affair and Charles was in a foul temper. Florence kept Mrs Cox with her late that evening, and Charles retired ungraciously. Later that night, the household is woken by Charles' cries for hot water. Three days later he was dead.

In this programme Julian draws the threads together. He recounts the evidence implicating each suspect but eventually discounts all the house members. So, who did kill Charles Bravo?

Julian reminds us that Charles clearly knew what he had taken because he didn't ask any questions and he didn't accuse anyone in the house. And yet, if he knew he'd taken antimony, why didn't he tell the doctors? After all, adding it to Florence's drink was hardly a crime - or was it?

Julian reveals that he believes Charles Bravo was trying to kill Florence. And in his distemper, mistook antimony for Epsom Salts. In trying to kill Florence, he had inadvertently killed himself.


Sought for millenia by knights and by Nazis, the Holy Grail represents the ultimate treasure to the one who possesses it.
Generally considered to be the cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper, the grail could also be a stone, a book, or even the bloodline of Jesus himself.
What is it really? Investigate these and other mysteries with Legend Hunters.

MAN MOMENT MACHINE: Shot Down - The U2 Spyplane

In 1960 tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union is on the rise, and the world's two greatest powers seemed on the brink of war.

President Eisenhower proposed the "Open Skies Treaty" to allow mutual aerial reconnaissance, but the USSR rejected it. The U.S. needed information on the Soviet's nuclear capabilities.

Francis Gary Powers, a CIA pilot, was chosen to fly the U2, the greatest spy plane ever built, over the Soviet Union. At 11 miles above the earth's surface, where the sky merges with outer space, Powers felt safe from Soviet missiles and jets

On May 1st, 1960, an American U-2 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft was shot down over central Russia, forcing Francis Gary Powers, to bail out at 15,000 feet. He survived the parachute jump from his crippled aircraft, but was picked up by the Soviet authorities, who immediately arrested him.

On May 5th, 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 7th 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 10th 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.

Khubilai Khan’s Lost Fleet

Seven hundred years ago the world was dominated by one superpower, the Mongol Empire. Only one conquest still eluded their leader, Khublai Khan - the mystical islands of Japan.

To seal his place in history, he constructed the biggest invasion force the world has ever seen, a fleet of more than 4,400 ships. But at this pivotal moment in world-history the fleet vanished without a trace.

What force destroyed the Mongol armada? Was it the legendary Japanese samurai? Human error? Or a natural disaster of catastrophic proportions? Now a Japanese marine archaeologist believes he has found the Mongol fleet.

With an array of the latest marine forensic technology, he is revealing chilling new insights into the events of that fateful day. Can science finally solve the mystery of Khublai Khan's Lost Fleet?