The BBC produced a whole range of TV series this summer based around the anniversary of the partition of India and Pakistan. Michael Wood's series is by far the best in every aspect. It's excellent television (goodness me, it's what we pay our licence fee for!).
Wood is an engaging, enthusiastic historian who obviously has a passion for Indian history, Indian culture, and the peoples of India. So the series traces the development of the sub-continent from its earliest days, when men first populated the area, through all the major historical events that have shaped the people and the places. Religion inevitably forms a spiritual spine to the series, but Wood manages to explain the different belief systems without patronising and keeps their impact intact.
Wood also dares to go where other 'presenters' don't dare to tread. In the course of the series he visit Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq (where he's been several times before) and Tibet, in order to better explain the historical context behind the waves of invaders who populated and influenced India. Mind you, I'm not convinced that the footage with the Dalai Lama was a first-person interview...
I found the Ganges series to be pretty but overly dramatic, and the two other 'personality' journeys into India and Pakistan, hosted by well known TV people who were tracing their family roots, to be superficial and overblown. This series is none of those things.
Instead it is colourful, engaging, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. My one criticism is that the final episode, which deals with the days of the British Empire and partition, is maybe a little too harsh. But that's obviously because Wood is personally uncomfortable with the history of Empire... and it's a minor point.
Otherwise this is top-class documentary television. Well worth watching several times over.
And if you like it, then try Wood's book on a South Indian Journey, too!