Once described as the most valuable Englishman ever…
In the second episode, Melvyn Bragg tells the remarkable story of Thomas Paine – the 18th-century English radical political writer who wrote three of the best-selling political essays of all time: Common Sense, Rights of Man and The Age of Reason.
His books changed the world and helped shape modern democracy. He lit the fuse for the American Revolution, was an active participant in the French Revolution and laid the foundation for political reform in Britain.
In this film, Melvyn travels from Norfolk to Philadelphia, New York to Paris as he follows in the footsteps of one of the great champions of democracy and human rights.
Along the way, he explores how the freedoms we all now enjoy grew out of the 18th century Enlightenment thinking and were given popular voice in the works of Thomas Paine.
Confirmed for BBC Two on 9 August at 9.15pm to 10.15pm
Saturday 9 August
BBC TWO BBC TWO HD