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Discovery Channel’s Original Special, BEHIND THE GREAT WALL, Tells the Story of the Greatest Architectural Structure Ever Built and How It Defined Ruler and People of the Ming Dynasty

Special Celebrates Chinese New Year and Marks Unprecedented Access

January 8, 2008

Contact - Katherine Nelson
VP, Communications
Contact - Elizabeth Hillman
SVP, Communications

(Silver Spring, MD) --BEHIND THE GREAT WALL, premiering Sunday, January 27 at 9PM ET/PT, is a two-hour drama documentary that illustrates a pivotal period in ancient Chinese history, which culminated in the creation of the Great Wall, a structure that symbolizes the strength and ambition of the Chinese nation and the relentless focus of the ruler and legendary general Qi Jiguang. Interweaving dramatization and interviews with the world’s foremost authorities on the Great Wall and the Ming Dynasty, the film unravels the epic story of the world’s single greatest structure – 3,000 miles of an impregnable fortress.

Further marking the epic nature of BEHIND THE GREAT WALL is the access granted to the film crew. This production marks the first time a western crew was allowed to film inside a base of the People’s Liberation Army, to interview the descendants of both the Wall’s builders and the Mongol warriors who were their mortal enemy, and to view the collated archives of Qi Jiguang’s own writings and military stratagems.

The film begins in the storm of Ming China’s greatest military humiliation -- the terror of the Mongol attack on Beijing in 1550. As this apocalypse sears itself into the mind of the junior officer Qi Jiguang, he resolves to defend his nation at all and any costs. This begins a journey that leads him to found China’s first professional army – the forerunner of the modern People’s Liberation Army – and to build the Wall itself in the most incredible logistical feat of the age, culminating in its successful test in battle.

Two other key characters share Qi Jiguang’s journey in BEHIND THE GREAT WALL – a conscripted worker, Geng Zhou, symbol of China’s indomitable labouring spirit, and the masterful courtier Zhang Juzheng, Qi Jiguang’s political ally in his struggle to build the biggest, most ambitious project in the nation’s history. These three lives are woven into a compelling drama that ends with the downfall of Qi Jiguang and the demise of the empire he devoted his life to defend.

Supporting the factually based drama are the compelling testimonies from three of the world’s foremost Great Wall and Ming Dynasty experts – Professor Robin D. S. Yates (James McGill Professor of History and East Asian Studies, McGill University), Dr Wang Tao (archaeologist from London University) and historian David Spindler. Collectively they help bring the factual story of the Wall alive.

BEHIND THE GREAT WALL is produced for Discovery Channel by Lion Television. Cassian Harrison and Richard Bradley are executive producers. Jack Smith is executive producer for Discovery Channel.

About Discovery Communications

Discovery Communications is the world’s number-one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 170 countries. Discovery empowers people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity through 100-plus worldwide networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, Planet Green, Investigation Discovery and HD Theater, as well as leading consumer and educational products and services, and a diversified portfolio of digital media services including How Stuff Works. Discovery Communications is owned by Discovery Holding Company (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB), Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, Discovery's founder and chairman. For more information, please visit Discovery Communications.

Screeners available upon request.