Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Battle Of Lepanto

This film follows the landmark expedition undertaken by the Spiegel TV team to shed light on the colossal maritime battle of Lepanto. For the first time in history, they uncover definitive physical evidence on where and how this battle took place.

In 1571, the Mediterranean Sea was the battleground for the greatest naval clash in world history: the battle between the Holy League - the unity of the Christians of Europe and the Ottomans from Turkey. The battle involved 600 ships carrying 250,000 people and resulted in nearly 50,000 casualties. This was the bloodiest confrontation ever between members of the Muslim and Christian Faith - this level of mass killings was not reached again until World War I.

The war was instigated by the Roman Catholic Pope who was in fear of Muslim dominance in Europe. He brought together key Italian provinces such as Venice and the whole of Spain. Besides the religious motivation, the support he received from the seafaring trade nations was fuelled by their fear of losing control of their lucrative trade routes. Interestingly, Miguel de Cervantes (author of Don Quixote) fought in this battle onboard a Spanish galleon!

Using the latest sonar technology and cutting edge analytical equipment, the Spiegel TV team undertook a mission that not even Cousteau was able to accomplish in the past - with 100 per cent success. Had the Holy League not defeated the Ottomans in this battle, would modern Europe have become a fully Islamic region?

The Last of the Few

This dramatic documentary provides an engine-roaring insight into the sky bound travails of the Battle of Britain memorial flight. We look at the men, the Merlins and the machines that comprise this prestigious team.

In the immediate post-war era, it became traditional for a Spitfire and a Hurricane to lead the Victory Day flypast over the city of London. From this annual aviation commemoration, the idea of forming a collection of flyable aircraft arose. Initially intended to remember the Royal Air Force’s major battle honour, the Battle of Britain, it later broadened its scope to commemorate all of the major aviation campaigns of the Second World War.

In 1957, our fearless flyers first joined forces, and the Historic Aircraft Flight was born at Biggin Hill. The aircrew on the flight is comprised entirely of volunteers, all of whom perform their primary duties on such front-line types as Typhoon, Jaguar and Boeing E3D AWACs or on training aircraft such as the Super King Air. The organisation now occupies a well earned place among the best-known historic aircraft collections in the world. It maintains a Lancaster, a Dakota, five Spitfires, two Hurricanes and two Chipmunks – all in perfectly flyable condition.

On the 50th anniversary of their union, we watch them fly the world’s most famous planes at the 2007 Biggin Hill Airshow. In their Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters, they recreate the desperate and crucial aerial battles of summer 1940. It is a dramatic opportunity to explore the RAF’s astounding history, and a chance to remember the plucky pilots who outfought a determined enemy in southern England’s war-torn skies.

Ancient Discoveries: Siege of Troy

For three thousand years, the Siege of Troy has remained steeped in mystery. Historians have speculated over the true identity of Helen, the mysterious face said to have launched a thousand ships. Experts have also asked how the vast wooden ship of Troy was constructed. Most provocatively of all, some historians have suggested that the event may not have taken place at all.

In this groundbreaking new programme, we set to crack the riddles of Troy once and for all. Some of the world’s leading engineers, historians and archaeologists offer their expert opinions on this ancient mystery. Journeying to the site discovered by archaeologist Harold Schliemann in modern Turkey – the location many believe to be the real Troy - we analyse one of the world’s greatest historical battlegrounds for new evidence.

Using these 3000 year-old clues, we unlock the secrets of the wars that were fought there – from the armour and weaponry used, to how the ancient soldiers lived and died. In a dramatic bid to uncover new insights into Troy’s battlefield technology, world champion archer Mark Green fires arrows at Mycenaean armour and the huge shield believed to have been used by Achilles.

This program takes us behind the Troy celebrated by Hollywood to uncover fascinating evidence of events such as Achilles’ duel against Hector and the sailing of the vast Mycenaean fleet. Among many new insights, we discover that the ‘impregnable’ walls of Troy may have been shattered using chemical warfare and ancient super tanks inspired by siege-busting war machines of the Middle East.

Intertwined with the narrative of our modern day investigation into Troy, is the legendary story as told by Homer. As this story reaches its gripping conclusion, the programme shifts its focus to one incredible machine: the wooden ship of Troy. Combining evidence from ancient Greek art and Middle Eastern reliefs, we uncover a fascinating new theory: the sacred properties of horses in Trojan society may have caused them to open the siege gates, just as the epic poem tells. Three thousand years after this enrapturing tale was first told, this programme applies modern technology, archaeology and engineering to uncover the real story behind the legend of Troy.