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This documentary series from the BBC is based on the book of the same name, which features a series of individuals living their everyday lives in the Chinese controlled region of Tibet. Amongst those who take part in the documentary are the Panchen Lama, a spiritual leader in the country who shows the film crew around monasteries and other spiritual monuments. Sun Shuyun, the producer of the show lived in the country with everyday people for a year in a bid to accurately portray their lives in the series.

BBC Earth
1 Season, 5 Episodes
August 7, 2008
Documentary & Biography
7.9/10
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A Year in Tibet Full Episode Guide

  • It is now mid-winter in southern Tibet, where temperatures regularly fall 20 degrees below freezing. In the Pel Kor monastery in Gyantse, the director, Choephel, discovers that some irreplaceable statues have been stolen and suspects it is an inside job.

  • The monks in the Pel Kor monastery begin their elaborate preparations for New Year, one of Tibet's biggest festivals. In the town, meanwhile, Lhakpa, a local rickshaw driver, struggles to earn money as winter approaches. He embarks on a scheme to buy and sell puppies - but with disastrous consequences. Meanwhile, his five-year old nephew, Ozer, is rushed into hospital with a life-threatening heart condition, plunging the family further into debt.

  • It is autumn in southern Tibet and everyone is pulling together to get in the harvest. Like all farmers, Dundan is worried most about hailstones flattening his crops. In the past, his brother, Tseden, the local shaman, protected the fields with his spells. Now the local government has installed guns to disperse the clouds and this has put Tseden out of a job. In the nearby town of Gyantse, Rincheu, a local builder, struggles to find enough workers during the harvest to complete his all-important first government commission.

  • The Panchen Lama, the highest-ranking Buddhist living in Tibet today, pays a sudden visit to the local monastery and throws the monks into turmoil. For Tsephun, a novice monk, the visit proves to be the most exciting day of his life. In the town, Jianzang, a local hotel owner, is worried about the lack of business. Despite a last-minute panic with blocked pipes in his hotel rooms and an inspection by the local tourist chief, the Panchen's visit gives him a late-season windfall.

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