Michael Wood walks through Tiananmen Square

THE STORY OF CHINA | Starts June 20 at 8 pm on WOUB-TV

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An epic journey into China’s 4,000-year history,
THE STORY OF CHINA kicks-off “PBS Summer of Adventure,” premiering June 20, 27 and July 11, 2017
8:00 p.m. ET on PBS

Historian Michael Wood’s one-of-a-kind adventure reveals extraordinary insights on how China’s past informs its present and future

PBS offers an unprecedented, six-part series exploring the 4,000-year history of China, home to more than a billion people and an emerging global superpower. THE STORY OF CHINA premieres Wednesday, June 20, 2017, at 8:00 p.m. on WOUB. Host and historian Michael Wood, who brings a contagious curiosity to the series that is matched only by the warmth and enthusiasm of the Chinese people, suggests that to understand China today we must examine its past.

A soldier stands guard in Tiananmen Square, Beijing
A soldier stands guard in Tiananmen Square, Beijing

Produced by Maya Vision International, THE STORY OF CHINA takes viewers on an amazing journey deep into China’s breathtaking landscapes to find the people and stories that have helped create China’s distinctive character and genius for more than four millennia. Wood treks through the deserts of the Silk Road, visiting the ancient cities of Luoyang and Kaifeng, and to the modern metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai. This is China as rarely seen.

From the First Emperor to the Mongols and from the Opium Wars to the Communist Revolution, Wood paints vivid pictures of some of the great characters of Chinese history, not just emperors, but scientists, poets, rebels and novelists as well. Viewers meet the intrepid Buddhist traveler Xuanzang, the great woman poet Li Qingzhao, and Su Song — China’s Leonardo da Vinci. Wood captures the essence of key dynasties of China — from its first empire, the Shang, dating from 1500 B.C., through its last, the Qing, ruling from 1644 to 1911. The series concludes with the great rebellions of the 19th century that led to the rise of Mao Zedong and shows viewers the living culture of China today, from intimate family celebrations to vast communal rituals in the Yellow River plain.

“I’ve been traveling to China for over 30 years and never cease to be amazed by the warmth of the people, the beauty of the country and the strong connection to the past,” said Wood. “Our journey back in time is brought to life by the voices of today’s Chinese — local townspeople, farmers, shopkeepers, storytellers and historians.”

Spirit way at the Qianling Mausoleum, Shaanxi
Spirit way at the Qianling Mausoleum, Shaanxi

Lik Hang Tsui, a post-doctoral fellow and historian now based at Harvard University, and who is featured in the series, recently said, “We’re dealing with a country with many contradictions. The Chinese people focus on their long history, but also try to modernize and adopt new ways of life. In THE STORY OF CHINA, we see these contradictions, which are among the forces that drive this country.”

The series’ companion website  features additional elements to help further understand China’s history. The interactive features include a sneak peek at each episode, behind-the-scenes content, a timeline of China’s dynasties and a game to learn the Shang language.

The website also features a deep well of teacher resources, aligned to national educational standards for grades 6-12 for use in the classroom.  These features include 28 clips that will highlight key concepts in the series, accompanied by support material to help teachers lead classroom discussions. Also, four interactive games will have lesson plans for teachers to help broaden students’ understanding of China’s history and culture.

Historian and filmmaker Michael Wood has brought history alive for PBS viewers for 30 years. He is the author of several best-selling books and more than 100 documentary films, which The New York Times has described as “among the best history documentaries ever shown on TV.” Wood’s series include IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT and THE STORY OF INDIA, which the Wall Street Journal said was “still the gold standard” of history documentary filmmaking.  Producer and director Rebecca Dobbs, a founder of Maya Vision International, has been making award-winning dramas and factual programming for worldwide audiences for 30 years. She worked with Wood on several projects for PBS, including IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT, THE STORY OF INDIA, WALKING THE BIBLE, CONQUISTADORS, IN SEARCH OF SHAKESPEARE and MYTHS AND HEROES before their STORY OF CHINA collaboration.

View of the Dateng gorge
View of the Dateng gorge

“PBS Summer of Adventure” takes viewers and their families on an adventure around the world this season. The lineup of history, science and natural history programming kicks off with the six-part series THE STORY OF CHINA beginning June 20. The five-part program BIG PACIFIC, starting June 21, reveals the Pacific Ocean’s most guarded secrets. Following BIG PACIFIC on June 21, GREAT YELLOWSTONE THAW is a three-part series showcasing the stories of different animal families as they attempt to survive the toughest spring on Earth. On July 12, the three-part NATURE’S GREAT RACE explores the most astounding migrations on earth. RARE – CREATURES OF THE PHOTO ARK, beginning July 18, follows National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore in three episodes as he documents the world’s species at risk of extinction. WEEKEND IN HAVANA is a one-hour walking tour through Cuba on July 18. On August 2, IRELAND’S WILD COAST takes viewers on a one-hour journey along the island’s rugged Atlantic coast. PBS KIDS will also feature special “Summer of Adventure” children’s programming.

PBS Distribution will release THE STORY OF CHINA on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD, available for purchase at The running time is 360 minutes.

Each new episode of THE STORY OF CHINA will be available to stream the morning after broadcast on It will also be available on PBS station-branded digital platforms such as ROKU, Apple TV and Google Chromecast, as well as on PBS iPad and iPhone apps.

THE STORY OF CHINA was funded by PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

About PBS

PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 100 million people through television and nearly 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a new 24/7 channel, online at, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

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