Leviathan, Series Three

BBC2 1999
Highlights of the series included;

Marathon Men; Chris Eubank travels to Athens
As London again prepares to host its marathon, former world boxing champion Chris Eubank travels to Athens to trace the origins of this great endurance race. Beginning at the site of the ancient battle, where 2,500 years ago the Greeks banished an invading Persian army, Eubank traces the 26-mile route, and in doing so separates myth from reality.


Horrific though Serb actions in Kosovo might have seemed, they were part of a much older plan. As Mark Urban’s film reveals, in 1938 Serbia thought it had the solution to its Kosovo problem - it would pay Turkey to take away its Albanian population. A deal was struck - 500 Turkish pounds for each of 40,000 families. Only World War II and a fresh Balkan crisis prevented the deal being implemented.

Genie Genie; Steve Jones on GM - a warning from history

Genetically produced crops have been with us for three quarters of a century - with profound and irreversible consequences for food production. Steve Jones - geneticist and broadcaster - traces the history of the breakthrough genetic technology founded on scientists’ first understanding of heredity at the turn of the century.

States of the Union

Looking back at the often turbulent relationship between England and her Union neighbours.

From the Royal Yacht Britannia, now moored in his native Edinburgh, Nicky Campbell tells us how Scotland supplied the talent, soldiers and imperialists who built up Britain. With the help of historian Linda Colley, Campbell uncovers the reasons why Britain came in to being - and why it may be in its final phase.

As D-Day beckons for the new Northern Ireland, Mark Urban looks back twenty-six years to the Sunningdale Agreement -- the first time power-sharing was attempted in Northern Ireland.

Michael Portillo on Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War

As Britain grapples with three new parliaments and reform of the Lords, Leviathan looks back to the last episode of dramatic constitutional change: the English Revolution and 11 years of England as a Republic. The former Cabinet minister Michael Portillo looks at the English Civil War in the light of the passions and prejudices now aroused by Europe, reform of the House of Lords, devolution and electoral reform.

Ian Buruma on Tiananmen Square - 10 Years On

10 years on from the Tiananmen Square massacre, Leviathan also tracks down many of the now-exiled Chinese student leaders in New York.. Some, like Wall Street hotshot Li Lu, have thrived. Others find life disillusioning - the real Statue of Liberty casting a very different shadow from the huge model they constructed in Beijing. Asian specialist Ian Burumas film essay points up the splits and factions now dividing these former friends and exiled democrats, proof of the old adage “united we stand, divided we fall”.

Jo Brand tackles World Debt

Jo Brand with the help of her alter ego “Josephine the Bank Clerk” finds out how developing countries got into so much debt.

Sweet FA

Spin Doctor and football nut Charlie Whelan dons his colours at Wembley for a fans’ history of the FA Cup Final.

Lisa Jardine on Star Wars

Dennis Waterman on Snooker, A Potted History

Bettany Hughes on Millenium Prophesies throughout History


The Tapes of Ralph

Ralph Steadman’s films included

The Paris World Exhibition

Electricity was showcased, the public marvelled at the moving walkway, you went in via a massive dome, and they managed to finish the metro in time for the grand opening on 14th April 1900. Ralph Steadman combines the roles of actor, artist and narrator to conjure up the spirit of the occasion. Ralph’s film features archive film of the exhibition and even contains film-testimony from the longest-surviving visitors to the exhibition which launched the century .

The Queen’s original birthday

born in the middle of the coal dispute, which became the General Strike, with the Home Secretary in attendance!



Welshman Ralph Steadman tackles a subject dear to his heart, the complete history of the Welsh language - in three minutes.

Ralph Steadman recreates the day a madman ambushed Queen Victoria with a gun. The deranged assailant was receive punishment under a new law specifically created to discourage subjects from firing guns at the Queen.

The story of the last public hanging in England

And in his last bizarre On This Day film for the series, Leviathan’s artist-in-residence Ralph Steadman plays “merry monarch” Charles II in a restoration romp about a Dutch naval invasion of Essex on June 9th 1667.