Latest Documentaries

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Winter is Coming

Many insects won't survive the winter. But thanks to these remarkable adaptations, their offspring will live on.

1/3Macro Worlds • 2020 • Nature

Ocean Autopsy: The Secret Story of Our Seas

Two-thirds of our planet is covered in water, split into five distinct oceans, but in reality, Earth's seas are part of one huge global water system - a system that has been instrumental in shaping our destiny for millions of years. Now, however, in the 21st century, it is mankind that is shaping the destiny of our oceans. In unprecedented ways, humans are changing our seas and the life within. The ocean bed, the currents, marine life, even the water itself is transformed by what we are putting into our oceans.

2020 • Environment

The Secret History of Writing

[3 episodes] How the invention of writing gave humanity a history. From hieroglyphs to emojis, an exploration of the way in which the technology of writing has shaped the world we live in.

2020 • History

Jungle Guardian

Jungles contain up to 90% of the world’s plant and animal species: flowering plants, trees, birds, fungi, reptiles, fish – their range and beauty is absolutely staggering. It is becoming clear that what affects the rainforest affects us all deeply.

2020 • Nature

Hidden Spain

Spain is found at the crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, resulting in diverse landscapes, ancient cultures and magnificent wildlife.

2020 • Travel

Towering Infernos

Exploits of Firefighters Some of the world's most dramatic fires and how they have been fought, with live action footage of daring rescues and escapes. Spectacular, out-of-control blazes create unique problems for firefighters. During World War II, in Hamburg, bomb-triggered fires of unprecedented scale created heat so intense it sucked in hysterical bystanders. A 25-story Brazilian office complex belched thick, toxic smoke, trapping workers on balconies and windows. And the highrise MGM Grand Hotel, firefighters staged a daring helicopter rescue for frantic guests breaking out windows on the upper floors. No matter how great the danger, firefighters battle on until the last ember is doused... then prepare for the next inferno. The Towering Inferno was one of Hollywood's blockbuster disaster films. But the reality of a major fire that is out of control is a more frightening spectacle than any film can portray. Using live footage of the major fire disaters of the twentieth century, this episode shows how these towering infernos have been fought and the bravery that has led to daring rescues and unbelievable escapes.

20/20The True Action Adventures of the Twentieth Century • 1996 • History

Save Our Souls

Dramatic Sea Rescues Some of the Twentieth Century's most famous examples, with emphasis on how the rescue services have operated in the most appalling conditions. When the "unsinkable" Titanic struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage, she went down long before rescue ships could reach her. Those who survived owed their lives to the brave, self-sacrificing efforts of some of the crew and passengers on board. Shipbuilding, sea communications and rescue capabilities have advanced since then, but as the ill-fated voyages of the Morro Castle, Andrea Doria, Estonia and others show, disaster can strike at any time. And when it does, heroic efforts often mean the difference between survival...and a watery grave. Disasters at sea can be due to war, negligence or more often the force of nature. The twentieth century is littered with examples of sea disasters, from the negligence that sunk the unsinkable Titanic on her maiden voyage, to the tragedies of war and the weather. However, if the cause of the disaster was bad weather, the rescue services then have the most difficult task of responding to the SOS in the most appalling conditions.

19/20The True Action Adventures of the Twentieth Century • 1996 • History

Spies in the Sky

The Story of Aerial Photographic Reconnaissance The fascinating story with newly released footage on how flying high and fast, and often unarmed, aircraft brought back valuable intelligence on the enemy in both war and peace. Sometimes they did not return. We have come a long way since the first few silk-suited aerostiers of the French revolution ascended in tethered balloons to scan the battlefield through wobbly telescopes. In just 230 years, humanity has progressed from its first faltering flights to the capability to photograph from space an object the size of a grapefruit - a testament both to technological progress and our need to keep a close eye on the world around us. From the days of artillery-spotting balloons the extensive use of aerial reconnaissance began in the Great War and has continued throughout wartime and peacetime. Newly released footage shows the dangers that these planes faced flying high and fast in enemy territory. Many of these reconnaissance planes were unarmed with only their wits to guide them safely back home. Some however never returned.

18/20The True Action Adventures of the Twentieth Century • 1996 • History

Over the Wall

Berlin Escapes 1961-89 The many and sometimes successful attempts to escape under the watchful eyes of the East German border guards. Set against the background of the history of the Wall. On August 13th, 1961 building commenced on die Berliner Mauer, the wall that would divide the world for nearly thirty years, as well as the city of Berlin. During that period more than five thousand people escaped to freedom, but over two hundred lost their lives. Even the phrase, Checkpoint Charlie, evokes the deception and fear that existed every day in the East and West Berlin. On a Sunday morning in 1961, shocked citizens awoke to the sounds of a barrier being built along the border separating East and West Berlin. Over the next three decades, thousands of of East Berliners risked their lives--leaping from buildings, crashing vehicles into gates, digging tunnels--in desperate attempts to breach the Berlin Wall and reach the West. In 1989, as Communist rule was collapsing throughout Europe, defiant Berliners began to tear the Wall down. Today, a few battered sections remain standing--a monument to those who died trying to escape to freedom.

17/20The True Action Adventures of the Twentieth Century • 1996 • History

Amazon Adventures

Exploring the World's Longest River In the tradition of 'Indiana Jones' the true story of Man's efforts to reach the source of the world's mightiest river including the mystery of the disappearance of Colonel Fawcett in 1923. The Amazon basin is a marvel of the world and the imagination, an ecosystem of unrivaled size and diversity, and a place of near mythical status among travelers. The Amazon River has more water than the next eight largest rivers combined, and is twice the area of India, and the basin spans eight countries. The Amazon is the world's mightiest river and the second longest at 6.280 kilometres. The river was first discovered when a captain noticed that his ship, which was out to sea, was actually sailing in fresh water and that this must be the outflow of river. Since then many explorers have tried to discover the source of this great river. One of them, Colonel Fawcett, mysteriously disappeared in 1923 whilst tracking up the Amazon.

16/20The True Action Adventures of the Twentieth Century • 1996 • History

Kennedy's Torpedo Boat Drama

How a Future US President Faced Death in the War in the Pacific Set against the backcloth of motor torpedo boats attracting adventurous spirits in both world wars, this is the story of the future US President and his struggle to survive after the sinking of his PT-109 off New Georgia in the Solomons in July 1943. Few people know how close JFK came to death in World War II when his PT-109 was rammed by a Japanese destroyer in the Pacific killing two of its crew. While on night patrol in the Solomon Islands, skipper Jack Kennedy's torpedo boat was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer. Although injured himself, Kennedy pulled one badly wounded man to the shore, then swam to nearby islands to find help for his crew. Kennedy's torpedo boat was the only one to be rammed by the Japanese navy during the war, which led to accusations of poor leadership. However, nobody could doubt the courage of Kennedy to lead his 10 men to safety as he swam for over five hours to raise the alarm and be rescued by a navy that had given him up for dead. His exceptional courage and leadership saved his men... and made him one of World War II's most notable heroes.

15/20The True Action Adventures of the Twentieth Century • 1996 • History

France's Yankee Fliers

The Story of the Escadrille Lafayette Well before their country entered the Great War a number of adventurous Americans volunteered to fight for the British and French. Among them were a number of pilots, and in early 1916 they were formed into a special French fighter squadron, which fought with great distinction on the Western Front. Amazing aerial footage shows WW1 dog-fights as they really were. If the Wright brothers' 1903 flights in Kitty Hawk marked the birth of aviation, World War I can be called its violent adolescence—a brief but bloody era that completely changed the way planes were designed, fabricated, and flown. France's Yankee Fliers tells the story of the men who were at the forefront of that revolution: the daredevil Americans of the Lafayette Escadrille, who flew in French planes, wore French uniforms, and showed the world an American brand of heroism before the United States entered the Great War.

14/20The True Action Adventures of the Twentieth Century • 1996 • History

Recommended Documentaries

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The Clean Room

To determine the true age of the Earth, geochemist Clair Patterson developed the uranium-lead dating method to make an unprecedented discovery - calculating Earth's age of 4.5 billion years. But Patterson's groundbreaking discoveries were just beginning. Patterson made it his mission to draw public attention to the detrimental effects of lead in the environment and dedicated his career to fighting against the petroleum and chemical industry, eventually achieving public health's biggest victory of the 20th century.

S1E7Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey • 2014 • Astronomy

Are Health Tests Really a Good Idea?

Michael Mosley puts himself through a battery of health tests available to people who feel perfectly well. From an expensive heart scan to a new national screening procedure to detect the earliest signs of bowel cancer, Mosley sets out to discover which if any of the tests are worth doing.

Horizon • 2015 • Health

Do we live in a multiverse?

It has long been thought that our universe is all there is, but it is possible we may live in just one of many.

The Economist • 2015 • Astronomy

Evolution

No two islands in the Galapagos are the same. The imperceptible drift of a continental plate keeps each island biologically isolated. David Attenborough explores this evolutionary crucible, encountering tortoises that weigh up to half a tonne, finches that use tools and lizards that communicate using press-ups; for Darwin, this was all evidence for his theory of evolution. We see the final footage of the world famous tortoise fondly known as Lonesome George, the last survivor of his species. David Attenborough was the last person to have ever filmed with him. Darwin’s famous visit had a downside – the arrival of man. David investigates the impact we’ve had in these islands, as our influence is a double-edged sword. We’ve disrupted the natural balance but he also believes Darwin would be thrilled with the advances we have made in science. We’re also now uncovering evidence that evolution is more rapid than Darwin could ever have imagined. Whatever wonders the Galapagos Islands hold today, they are only a hint of what awaits them in the future.

3/4Galapagos with David Attenborough • 2010 • Nature

Per Aspera Ad Astra

"It is beyond our powers to predict the future"

4/10The Sagan Series • 1989 • Astronomy

What is consciousness?

Understanding what consciousness is, and why and how it evolved, is perhaps the greatest mystery known to science.

The Economist • 2015 • Brain

Science Documentaries

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Sir David Spiegelhalter discusses Thomas Bayes and Ronald Fisher

David Spiegelhalter discusses how the work of amateur mathematician Thomas Bayes and statistician Ronald Fisher helped to shape the current thinking of probability.

5/6People of Science with Brian Cox • 2018 • Science

Space, Time & Videotape with Brian Cox

Brian Cox is joined by Brian Blessed and Alice Roberts. On the agenda are his TV idols from both science fiction and science fact, as well as a whole universe of other stuff.

Science

Can We Time Travel?

Three individuals face a series of challenges to find out if it's possible to time travel.

Part 1Genius by Stephen Hawking • 2016 • Science

The World Shaped By Time

First in a three-part documentary series offering an insight into the dramatic forces that shape life on Earth, using speeded-up footage that compresses centuries into seconds. The programme follows the movement of mountains, rivers, glaciers and the sea, and offers a glimpse of what the future might hold, revealing how the Great Rift Valley may well be on its way to becoming the next ocean.

1/3Time MachineScience

Aliens

Hawking joins science and imagination to explore one of the most important mysteries facing humankind - the possibility of alien, intelligent life and the likelihood of future "contact."

1/3Stephen Hawking's Universe • 1997 • Science

Chemistry

James May distills the secrets of all you need to know about chemistry.

S2E6James May's Things You Need to Know • 2012 • Science

Brain Documentaries

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What makes a genius?

Could you have come up with Einstein's theory of relativity? If not - why not? This is what Marcus du Sautoy, professor of mathematics, wants to explore. Marcus readily admits that he is no genius, but wants to know if geniuses are just an extreme version of himself - or whether their brains are fundamentally different.

Horizon • 2010 • Brain

Speechless

Imagine a world in which you can think but cannot speak. For many stroke survivors, like former football star Junior and landlord Barry, this nightmare is a reality. Inspired by the experience of his brother-in-law, filmmaker Richard Alwyn has made an intensely moving, personal film about language and its loss. Alwyn's brother-in-law, journalist Dennis Barker, had a stroke in 2011 which left him speaking a bizarre, fluent gibberish – just one manifestation of the condition ‘aphasia' in which people lose or have a severely impaired ability to use language. Speechless tells the powerful stories of two men who can no longer take language for granted. Much of the film is made on the Neuro Rehab Unit of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London's Queen Square. There, Alwyn meets 55 year old Barry who has been in hospital for 4 months since a stroke left him barely able to speak. Courageous and determined, Barry's personality constantly triumphs where his language fails. And two years after his stroke when just 35 years-old, former Premier League and international footballer Junior Agogo is still visiting the Unit as he battles to find his way in the world with depleted language. “I had thoughts but I'm saying, where was my voice? I was baffled, man.” Speechless raises questions that straddle philosophy and science. Can we understand the world if we don't have language to name and describe it? Can we think without language? How much is our identity wrapped up in language? These questions are at the heart of conversations that Alwyn has with clinicians and therapists working to get Barry and Junior back into the world. Speechless is fascinating and moving, upsetting and uplifting in its depiction of the isolating and estranging condition, aphasia.

2017 • Brain

Should I Die?

If I could live forever, should I? How does being reminded of our own mortality affect us psychologically? In this episode I speak with mortician and death positivity activist Caitlin Doughty and visit a cryonics facility trying to extend human life indefinitely. Will I take them up on their offer, or will I choose to die?

S3E5Mind Field • 2018 • Brain

Ambiguous Images

Professor Shapiro shows us how some images can prompt two, or even three, equally valid interpretations. Rather than settling on one interpretation, our brains tend to switch among all of them – leading to some baffling and astonishing visual experiences.

6/8Illusions • 2017 • Brain

Your Brain on Tech

Technology isn’t just changing our lives. It’s literally changing our brains -- and maybe for the better. In this episode, I’m a human lab rat in a groundbreaking study at UC Irvine, where scientists test how playing 3D video games affects my spatial memory. Will 10 days of gaming improve my ability to physically navigate a giant, 60-foot maze? And will an fMRI machine detect any physical changes to my brain?

S2E4Mind Field • 2017 • Brain

Basic Instincts

In today's world, looks count especially with the popularity of social media. In this episode, Dr Michael Mosley invites 10 singletons to the country house on a dating weekend with a difference. He strips down the dating game to animal attraction and puts their very basic instincts to the test. With the help of behavioural psychologist Tracey Cox and dating expert Emma Kenny

2/5Meet the Humans • 2017 • Brain

Randoms! Documentaries

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Rattleless Rattlesnake

Where would you go to find an enchanted underwater forest? How come some Mexican rattlesnakes have lost their rattle? And why does an Indian elephant look like its smoking cigarettes?

S1E18Nature's Strangest Mysteries: Solved • 2019 • Nature

Divine Gamble

Simon Sebag Montefiore charts the rocky course of Rome's rise to become the capital of western Christendom and its impact on the lives of its citizens, elites and high priests. Rome casts aside its pantheon of pagan gods and a radical new religion takes hold. Christianity was just a persecuted sect until Emperor Constantine took a huge leap of faith, promoting it as the religion of Empire. But would this divine gamble pay off?

2/3Rome: A History of the Eternal City • 2012 • History

Part 2

Experience a village of birds, masks that come alive, the world's greatest mountain range and baby turtles erupting out of the sand.

2/2India: Nature's Wonderland • 2015 • Nature

The Stilwell Brain

There are 100 billion individual neurons in the human brain. Working together, they allow us to make sense of, and move through, the world around us. Scientists have built replicas of the human brain with computers, but no one has ever successfully made a brain out of humans. On this episode, I’ll travel back to my hometown of Stilwell, Kansas, and turn it into a working brain!

S3E3Mind Field • 2018 • Brain

Decoding the Brain

After millennia of speculation about what goes on inside the human brain, we now have the tools to explore its hidden reaches. These tools are leading to research that may help those suffering from afflictions such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. They are also shedding light on the mystery of consciousness and what makes us who we are.

S1E3Breakthrough National Geographic • 2015 • Brain

No Internet Week

Addicts disconnected from the "noise". The internet has taken over our lives and permeates every moment.

People