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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

BBC WORLD (article first published : 2003-12-28)

Alongside its unmatched global news coverage, BBC World is launching an ambitious programme schedule for the first quarter of 2004. One of the highlights of this season is the launch of Middle East Business Report, while several major series, including A History of Britain, With Friends Like These and the Genius Season are set to captivate viewers.

From the start of January, the award-winning historian, Professor Simon Schama, presents A History of Britain. This 15-part television epic brings history to life through the dramatic stories of key lives and moments in Britain's rich past. Familiar names and places, warriors and kings, priests and politicians, battlegrounds, castles and cathedrals all punctuate the stories which make up the themes of the series. Schama visits hundreds of locations as he uses his compelling storytelling skills to describe the struggles for national identities, the triumphs and trials of the monarchy and the effects of warring religions, along with the expansion of the Empire and the decline of Britain as a world power.

Dreamspaces, the series about stylish modern architecture and the best of global design, returns for another six-part series following global acclaim from the press, the architecture and design worlds. David Adjaye, Justine Frischmann and Charlie Luxton seek out the most breathtaking and beautiful new buildings - from Frank Gehry's new Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (a companion to his legendary Guggenheim in Bilbao) to the staggering computer-designed curves of Japan's Yokahama Ferry Terminal. They also take a fresh look at the kind of architecture we all use everyday, from department stores to concrete car park.

Twenty-five years ago, on 16th January 1979, the Shah of Iran was overthrown by a popular revolution and fled into exile. Muhammad Reza Pahlavi was generally regarded as a Third World dictator. The one-off programme, The Last Shah, to be broadcast in January, shows that in his own eyes, he was a visionary king leading a grateful people towards something he called "the great civilisation". With extensive filming in Iran and interviews with family and former colleagues, the documentary explores the enigma of a shy, timid ruler who tried to turn one of the most backward countries in the Middle East into a "new Japan" but instead precipitated a revolution.

In a three-part series called With Friends Like These, the award-winning reporter, Michael Cockerell, examines Britain's relationship with other countries. The first programme tells the inside story of ties between Britain and France. The second looks at the history of its tangled associations with Germany, while in the final part of the series, Cockerell reviews Britain's links with the United States.

From February, BBC World's Genius Season presents Genius, which profiles some of the greatest scientific minds, past and present. These include Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist; the Nobel winner Sir Paul Nurse, who has been at the very front line of the fight against cancer; Jacques Cousteau, the explorer, inventor and environmentalist whose films brought the unknown world of the deep into people's living rooms all over the globe; and Frank Whittle, whose idea for the first jet engine changed the nature of travel, commerce and leisure, and shrank the world.

Moments of Genius is a seven-part series hosted by leading present-day scientists, looking back at the achievements of, among others, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The Spirit of Yachting is a series of six documentaries, filmed over a year, in some of the world's most glamorous and sophisticated places. It captures the unique blend of adventure, raw excitement and lifestyle that surrounds professional sailing.

Traditional sailing programmes contain little that will capture the imagination of anyone but the hardcore enthusiast but The Spirit of Yachting uses the events as a dynamic background to the human stories behind the racing, following several regattas through the eyes of those involved, including the Farr 40 World, the Fastnet Race, the Maxi Yacht Cup and the Sydney Hobart Race.

On the morning of September 11 1973, two jets launched a deadly attack on the Presidential Palace of La Moneda in the heart of Santiago, Chile. A military coup led by Augusto Pinochet ousted the President Salvador Allende, the world's first democratically-elected Marxist head of state. Using archive footage and interviews with supporters of both Allende and Pinochet, the gripping documentary, Chile: The Other 9/11, pieces together the dramatic events of the day that ultimately resulted in the death or disappearance of over 3,000 people.

The regular lifestyle programmes also continue throughout the first quarter, with Tom Brook highlighting the latest news and reviews from the land of celluloid on Talking Movies. The weekly series FASTTRACK offers suggestions for pleasure and business travel in addition to reviewing global trends and investigating issues affecting the travel industry.




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