Twelve months ago, a production team started following the journeys of people attempting to reach Europe, escaping war, poverty or persecution.
They filmed where regular film crews could not go: on the inflatable dinghies crossing from Turkey to Greece, in the back of lorries entering the Channel Tunnel, or on open trucks driven by people smugglers across the Sahara.
This first episode begins as hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria arrive in the Turkish port of Izmir. We meet 11-year-old Isra’a, selling black-market cigarettes so that her extended family can pay smugglers to take them across the Mediterranean on a dinghy. But as they hear stories of more and more people drowning, her father Tarek is no longer sure if he can risk his children’s lives.
Meanwhile, 27-year-old Hassan, who is fleeing imprisonment and torture in his native Damascus, is desperate to make the crossing at all costs. He puts his life, and those of his travelling companions, in the hands of smugglers and boards a dinghy.
Filmed by the production team and the refugees themselves, the result is a terrifyingly intimate, yet epic portrait of the biggest movement of people Europe has seen since the Second World War.
* Exodus: Our Journey To Europe BBC2, Monday 1.10pm