PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 12:00am

Sahara With Michael Palin

Pearl, 9.30pm

In the final leg of Michael Palin's Saharan journey he arrives at the border of Niger and Algeria, the most desolate crossing in the world, where banditry is a way of life. Turning north, he passes through the dramatic mountains of the Hoggar Massif, making a brief diversion into Libya before turning west along the north coast past stunning and deserted classical sites at Apollonia, Cyrene and Leptis Magna. Crossing into Tunisia, Palin (above) relives the filming of The Life Of Brian in Monastir, before taking the Maghreb Express to the city of Algiers.

Sea Of Empires

World, 8.30pm

Since the sixth century the Mediterranean has been a hotbed of conflict between the civilisations of Europe and Islam. However, the Arab nations of the North African coastline were often the repositories of much of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Their learning, architecture, skill as traders, and enlightened approach to governance would frequently put their barbaric northern neighbours to shame. From the Great Mosque in Kairouan, Tunisia, to the architectural influences that abound throughout Sicily, presenter St John Stephen traces some of the significant contributions Islam has made to European and Christian culture as a whole.