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A History of Syria with Dan Snow

Mon Mar 11, 9-10pm, BBC2

How did Syria become such a tinderbox? How long have you got? This tangled tale, like most national histories is complex, contested and worth more than an hour’s TV time. All the same, Dan Snow does an excellent job of squeezing the salient facts into this highly recommended ‘This World’ special.

Syria contains Christians, various different varieties of Muslim and, we dare say, the odd cowering atheist. It’s been persistently unlucky with its leadership. And the country’s location has, for centuries, made it a political and military football; buffeted by the interference of east and west, secular and religious, imperial and local. In terms of screwing Syria in the name of short-term self-interest, the Brits have done their bit, as have the French and the Russians. But what’s next? As anyone who’s watched the news in the last year will know, the answer to that question is painfully uncertain.

Not a cheerful watch but it’s good to be informed on such essential issues and also, good to see Dan Snow freed from yomping around Britain’s heritage sites and getting his teeth into something more serious.