The First Emperor: The Man who made China

This film follows the first emperor of China’s legendary rise, reign and fall, employing cutting-edge science to unlock the secrets of his tomb.

The emperor, Chin Shi Huang Di, is compared to Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar for commanding millions, uniting China and building the Great Wall. 

Filmed on location in China, the western crew were granted unprecedented access to Emperor Chin’s legendary seven square mile underground burial complex. Filled with more than 8,000 figures, including the terracotta army of soldiers, the Emperor designed it to celebrate his political and military power, and to achieve continued glory in the afterlife.

Two thousand years after his death, ground-penetrating radar combined with CGI illustrate for the first time on-screen, the shape, layout and design of the largest unopened tomb in the world.

Production Information

Broadcaster: Channel 4 & Discovery

TX Date: January 2006

Format: 1 x 102

Useful Links:

Discovery Press Release



Executive Producer(s):

Richard Bradley

Bill Locke


A two-hour television program that combines high-level documentary techniques with engaging drama to tell the story of the monster who created China more than 2,000 years ago.

Hollywood Reporter

Compelling…interesting…. vividly realized.

The Daily Telegraph

Exploration of a potentially fascinating subject... this film contains some stunning footage of Qin’s tomb...spectacular scenes enacted in gorgeous locations… As a five-act tragedy, it was near enough perfect.

The Guardian

Awards & Nominations

British Archaeological Awards 2006

Channel Four Award for Broadcast Programmes - Win