Episode 1.05

Roosevelt’s third term and the voice from the sewers


In the first half of 1940 only one question mattered in American politics. Would Franklin D. Roosevelt break with tradition and run for a third term as President of the United States? The New York Times proclaimed it as ‘the all-absorbing political riddle’.

Roosevelt kept the country guessing right up until the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago in July 1940. On the second day of the convention, a message from FDR was read out.

It announced that the President had no desire to continue in office or to be nominated for election. It produced a stunned and shocked silence.

Suddenly, the quiet was shattered by a voice thundering over the loudspeakers.

‘We want Roosevelt!

We want Roosevelt!’

But did the President want a third term?


Episode 1.04 

The British Hindenberg disaster and the demise of Imperial Airships


Imperial Airships would bring the far flung peoples of the British Empire closer together than ever before. Every day, blimps would slip their masts near London carrying passengers and freight bound for Montreal, Cairo, Karachi, Singapore and Sydney.

Journies that had once been measured in months would breeze past in days. The Imperial Airship Service would bind Canada, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, India and New Zealand into a true global superpower.

Britannia still ruled the waves. But now, she would dominat the sky.

These dreams were dashed when the world’s largest airship ploughed into the ground in northern France on its inaugural flight to India.

Britain’s Hindenburg disaster ended an imperial flirtation with airships. Did it also deal a blow for the future of the British Empire?


Episode 1.03 

Hitler’s dreams to unify his empire with a monstrous railway


In 1941, Adolf Hitler issued orders to Nazi Germany’s railway officials. He wanted them to develop a new type of railway. It was to be bigger, far bigger, than anything that had ever been seen.

Trains the height and width of a suburban house and the length of the Empire State Building would hurtle across the Greater German Reich, from Brest in the west to Bucharest in the east. They would be luxurious, providing unimaginable amenities for travellers.

And, unsurprisingly, they were never built.


Episode 1.02 

Draining the swamp – Garibaldi’s plan to diver Rome’s river


In 1875, Rome came close to losing its river.

In that year, the liberator of Italy, General Giuseppe Garibaldi, visited and announced plans to clean up the Eternal City.

His main target was the River Tiber. Garibaldi would solve problems from pollution to flooding by diverting the river and completely removing it from the city.

Where did this idea come from? And why wasn’t it carried out?


Episode 1.01 

Achtung! Achtung! Dystopian adventures with Nazi TV


Everywhere you turn, you see the unmistakable face of Adolf Hitler. His voice echoes in your head, broadcast from a thousand loudspeakers. His wild, gesticulating speech is reaching its foam speckled crescendo.

Nazi television is everywhere. Looming over city squares, above the concourse of the railway station, on the factory floor and in every home.

It is George Orwell’s 1984 made real, and it was a dream of visionaries working in Joseph Goebbels’s Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

In the end, only the small matter of a world war got in the way of the roll-out of a nationwide and unavoidable Nazi television network.