Bill and Ted are high school buddies starting a band. They are also about to fail their history class - which means Ted would be sent to military school - but receive help from Rufus, a traveller from a future where their band is the foundation for a perfect society. With the use of Rufus' time machine, Bill and Ted travel to various points in history, returning with important figures to help them complete their final history presentation.
An American couple in Chile is drawn into the turmoil that followed President Salvador Allende's 1973 overthrow.
When he was a small boy, Diarmaid MacCulloch's parents used to drive him round historic churches. Little did they know that they had created a monster, with the history of the Christian Church becoming his life's work. In the first of a six-part series sweeping across four continents, Professor MacCulloch goes in search of Christianity's forgotten origins. He overturns the familiar story that it all began when the apostle Paul took Christianity from Jerusalem to Rome. Instead, he shows that the true origins of Christianity lie further east, and that at one point it was poised to triumph in Asia, maybe even in China. The headquarters of Christianity may well have been Baghdad not Rome, and if that had happened then western Christianity would have been very different.
Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch's grandfather was a devout pillar of the local Anglican church and felt that any dabbling in Catholicism was liable to pollute the English way of life. But now his grandfather isn't around to stop him exploring the extraordinary and unpredictable rise of the Roman Catholic Church. Over one billion Christians look to Rome, more than half of all Christians on the planet. But how did a small Jewish sect from the backwoods of 1st century Palestine, which preached humility and the virtue of poverty, become the established religion of western Europe - wealthy, powerful and expecting unfailing obedience from the faithful? Amongst the surprising revelations, MacCulloch tells how confession was invented by monks in a remote island off the coast of Ireland, and how the Crusades gave Britain the university system. Above all, it is a story of what can be achieved when you have friends in high places.
Today, Eastern Orthodox Christianity flourishes in the Balkans and Russia, with over 150 million members worldwide. It is unlike Catholicism or Protestantism - worship is carefully choreographed, icons pull the faithful into a mystical union with Christ, and everywhere there is a symbol of a fierce-looking bird, the double-headed eagle. What story is this ancient drama trying to tell us? In the third part of his journey into the history of Christianity, Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch charts Orthodoxy's extraordinary fight for survival. After its glory days in the eastern Roman Empire, it stood right in the path of Muslim expansion, suffered betrayal by crusading Catholics, was seized by the Russian tsars and faced near-extinction under Soviet communism. MacCulloch visits the greatest collection of early icons in the Sinai desert, a surviving relic of the iconoclastic crisis in Istanbul and Ivan the Terrible's cathedral in Moscow to discover the secret of Orthodoxy's endurance.
The Amish today are peaceable folk, but five centuries ago their ancestors were seen as some of the most dangerous people in Europe. They were radicals - Protestants - who tore apart the Catholic Church. In the fourth part of the series, Diarmaid MacCulloch makes sense of the Reformation, and of how a faith based on obedience and authority gave birth to one based on individual conscience. He shows how Martin Luther wrote hymns to teach people the message of the Bible, and how a tasty sausage became the rallying cry for Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli to tear down statues of saints, allow married clergy and deny that communion bread and wine were the body and blood of Christ. 'Jesus ascended into heaven', declared Zwingli. 'He's sitting at the right hand of the Father, not on a table here in Zurich.'.
Diarmaid MacCulloch traces the growth of an exuberant expression of faith that has spread across the globe - Evangelical Protestantism. Today, it is associated with conservative politics, but the whole story is distinctly more unexpected. It is easily forgotten that the Evangelical explosion has been driven by a concern for social justice and the claim that one could stand in a direct emotional relationship with God. It allowed the Protestant faith to burst its boundaries from its homeland in Europe. In America, its preachers marketed Christianity with all the flair and swashbuckling enterprise of American commerce. In Africa, it converted much of the continent by adapting to local traditions, and now it is expanding into Asia. But is Korean Pentecostalism and its message of prosperity in the here and now an adaptation too far?
Diarmaid MacCulloch's own life story makes him a symbol of a distinctive feature about Western Christianity - scepticism, a tendency to doubt which has transformed both Western culture and Christianity. In the final programme in the series he asks where that change came from. He challenges the simplistic notion that faith in Christianity has steadily ebbed away before the relentless advance of science, reason and progress and shows instead how the tide of faith perversely flows back in. Despite the attacks of Newton, Voltaire, the French Revolutionaries and Darwin, Christianity has shown a remarkable resilience. The greatest damage to Christianity was actually inflicted to its moral credibility by the two great wars of the 20th century and by its entanglement with fascism and Nazism. And yet it is during crisis that the Church has rediscovered deep and enduring truths about itself, which may even be a clue to its future.
A look at the methods used by Kim il Sung to transform North Korea into the most controlled society on Earth. After taking power in 1950, Kim's regime attempted to shape every aspect of its citizens' lives, down to their very perception of reality. Today, his grandson Kim Jung Un maintains the family tradition of wielding absolute power and brainwashing citizens to believe that the Kims are gods, and that they live in a paradise on Earth.
An examination of the techniques and tactics Saddam Hussein used to rise from a low level enforcer to become the supreme leader of Iraq. Through his brutal use of violence, intimidation and torture Saddam Hussein managed to rule the nation for nearly a quarter of a century until he was finally deposed by US forces during the Invasion of Iraq in 2003. Few dictators loom so large in recent history.
A study of the methods used by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to rise to power and turn Italy into the first fascist state. A master of propaganda, he dubbed himself "Il Duce" (the leader) and delivered bombastic speeches in which he idealized a fascist culture and promised to return Italy to the grandeur of Ancient Rome. Instead he created a one-party dictatorship and kept his grip on power for two long decades.
A study of the methods used by Manuel Noriega to rise from poverty to become dictator of Panama for six tumultuous years in the 1980s. As Chief of Intelligence he was the most feared man in Panama. He developed connections inside and outside the country that made him rich, powerful, and a key ally of the US in the region, while also working for Fidel Castro and the Medellin drug cartel, among others.
An exploration of the methods and tactics of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who controlled Spain with absolute power for four decades. Employing violence and terror learned in colonial warfare, Franco led the 1936 military coup that overthrew the legitimately elected government and went on to rule the nation as his personal fiefdom until his death in 1975. The mass graves of his victims are being exhumed to this day.
A look at the techniques used by Idi Amin to rise from humble beginnings and build a powerful dictatorship in Uganda. Amin became an expert at deploying military force to achieve political power, a lesson he first learned from the British as a soldier in the colonial army. Through a combination of populist charm and brutal violence, backed up by a vast police state, Idi Amin managed to rule Uganda for eight years.