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Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2006, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Uncovering Iran
First broadcast September 2006

Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran

Iran is often presented as a fanatical yet repressed population railing against the Great Satan.

It is less well known that British and Iranian modern history is inextricably linked. Iran had the Middle East's first democratically elected government, which in turn was toppled by Western powers.

In this three part series, John Tusa charts the making of modern Iran. He journeys through Iran's turbulent history, to understand the paradox at the heart of the nation.

Part Two: Coups

The 1953 US-backed coup overthrew the democratically elected president, Mohammed Mossadeq, and in turn installed Mohammed Reza Shah.

Seen as a pin-up boy for the West, the Shah was featured on the cover of Time magazine, embodying the ideas of the Constitutional revolution of 1906.

But was his idea of modernity a guise for Westernisation - and did it lead to his downfall and the rise in power and popularity of the clergy?

This in turn led to explosive revolution of 1979 - resulting in the end of 2,500 years of dynastical rule and the start of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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