BBC Studios and China’s Bilibili announce new documentary series Ancients, revealing the dramatic story of early civilisations to Chinese audiences
Dec 20, 2020

At 2020 Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival, BBC Studios and Bilibili, one of China’s foremost online entertainment platforms, announced that Ancients will be their first international co-production to feature Chinese stories, following an enhanced cooperation agreement signed in October.

The new six-part history series will bring together the history of early Eastern and Western civilisations; using stunning documentary visuals and stylish CGI to tell the extraordinary story of the world’s greatest ancient cultures on one epic timeline, stretching back 5,000 years.

Presented by world-leading historical specialists, each episode will use the very latest scientific and archaeological discoveries to reveal the tools, technologies, strategies and systems that decided the fate of Ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Indians, Greeks and Romans as they fought wars, battled the climate and established the rich and fascinating cultures which laid the foundations for the modern world.

The series will show why the fortunes of some civilisations rose while others fell; ultimately revealing how the destinies of Ancient East and West became inextricably connected as global trade routes took shape and China’s economic success saw it locked in competition with the Roman Empire.

The co-production of this new series follows BBC Studios and Bilibilis’ multi-year strategic cooperation agreement in October. This deal aims to significantly enhance the Chinese platform’s premium content offering from BBC Studios and take their existing partnership to a new level. It has also been announced that Bilibili has commissioned BBC Studios’ Science Unit to produce Odyssey into the Future, a series featuring the globally successful Chinese science fiction author Liu Cixin.

Tom McDonald, Director of Factual, BBC Studios Production, remarked, “This new series reflects the deeper level of partnership between BBC Studios and Bilibili, as we collaborate to produce world-leading documentaries which resonate with audiences in China and across the world. This will be a history series underpinned by cutting edge technology and contemporary storytelling.”

“The development of Chinese stories is a key element in BBC Studios and Bilibili's strengthened partnership. Through the co-production of Ancients, we hope to jointly bring to the global stage some of China’s rich cultural and historical stories together along with other civilisations,” said Li Ni, Vice Chairwoman and Chief Operating Officer of Bilibili. “This partnership is also in line with our commitment to providing premium quality content that caters to the tastes and demands of our growing base of users, mostly young Chinese audience who have been raised in China’s post-reform era with elevated living standards, educational levels and increasing demand for sophisticated cultural products.”

Ancients is being co-produced by BBC Studios and Bilibili and will be distributed by BBC Studios. This series is currently in preparation for production.

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