The fact that British and Iranian modern history is inextricably linked, that Iran had the Middle East's first democratically elected government which in turn was toppled by Western powers and also has a century old women's movement is less known.
In the British Museum there is the Cyrus Cylinder, hailed as the first charter of human rights. The 2,500 year old cuneiform cylinder with the revered words of the ancient King of Iran, Cyrus the Great, is testiment to the glorious past of Iran. A distant past which many Iranians hold dear.
So what are the main strands that go into being Iranian and how easily do they sit side by side? The pre-Islamic Persian soul, Shi'ite Islamic culture, modernity, westernisation and the fact that the Iranians are not Arabs, all set the country quite apart from its neighbours in the Middle East and gives them a strong - if complex - self identity.
Following on from the 1953 coup which installed the Western backed Mohammed Reza Shah - the last Shah of Iran - through to his overthrow during the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
How much did he modernise? And how much did he try and 'westernise' the country, and how did that sit with the nation's Islamic soul?
Parallel to his downfall we see the rise and rise of the clergy, an emerging power embodied in the black robes of Ayatollah Khomeini, resulting in the explosive 1979 Revolution which brought to an end 2500 years of dynastical rule. People caught up in these momentous events and close to those in power help tell the story.
Sunday 1.30pm 1 Oct 2006 (rpt Fri 11.00am)
The democratic hopes for the revolution die out as the country turns into the first ever Islamic Republic. The clergy were in power, but what did that mean? A new way of life was imposed, civil liberties were curtailed dramatically, an exodus of Iranians abroad took place and many felt betrayed by the Revolution.
In this final programme John Tusa examines the huge cultural shifts that have taken place in Iran under a theocracy, how its war with Iraq and the US hostage crisis have affected Iranians and their dealings with the outside world, and how, with 70% of the population under 25 years old, do they identify with modern revolutionary Iran and express themselves within the constraints of the Islamic Republic?