Latest Documentaries

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The Science of Sleep: How To Sleep Better

The British Sleep Council says that 70 per cent of people in the UK do no get enough sleep. Gaby Roslin and Amir Khan present the first of two programmes in which they aim to put things right, applying the latest science to some of the worst sleepers. They include a sleep deprivation experiment, as well as help for an extreme snorer and a man who suffers from night terrors. A woman who has restless leg syndrome, and a man who has had chronic insomnia for 20 years. The sleep deprivation experiment continues, setting up a mini casino to test for risky behaviour, pain resistance and emotional control. Finally, as the subjects reach the final hours of the challenge, the experiment begins to take its toll as the participants' emotions go into overdrive, with one threatening to quit altogether.

2019 • Lifehack

Black Hole Hunters

Astronomer Shep Doeleman and his team are on a mission that will challenge the theories of Albert Einstein and could pave the way to a revolution in physics: to capture the first-ever image of a black hole. To do this, they must link eight multimillion-dollar observatories around the world to a spot 26,000 light years away. It's the equivalent of spotting an orange on the moon, but after 10 years of planning and the combined brainpower of over 200 international scientists, the team feels they're ready to make scientific history.

2019 • Astronomy

Behind Russias Frozen Curtain

Explore the stark landscape, frigid sea, and wild animals in one of the most remote and inhospitable places on Earth. National Geographic Pristine Seas Explorer-in-residence Enric Sala leads a group of scientists on the first international scientific expedition to Franz Josef Land. His team works with Russia's most formidable biologists, geomorphologists and ornithologists to understand how climate change is affecting this remote ecosystem. From diving in subzero temperatures to running away from polar bears to avoiding titanic icebergs, the Pristine Seas team faces some of its most dangerous challenges to date.

2015 • Nature

The Search for Genius

The global search is on for the next Ramanujan, a poor Indian drop-out who won a coveted spot at Cambridge University in the 1920's for his extraordinary genius in mathematics.

8/8Stories of Impact • 2019 • Science

Catastrophic Global Threats

Scientists at the "Centre for Existential Risk" grapple with the unprecedented number of planetary threats facing humanity, from runaway AI and cyber attacks to bioterror and nuclear war.

7/8Stories of Impact • 2019 • Science

Animal Intelligence

Evolutionary anthropologists are probing the depths of animal intelligence like never before, revealing stunning new insights about humans too.

6/8Stories of Impact • 2019 • Science

Recommended Documentaries

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Horror

Mark turns to horror and shows how film-makers have devilishly deployed a range of cinematic tricks to exploit our deepest, darkest and most elemental fears. He explores the recurring elements of horror, including the journey, the jump scare, the scary place, the monster and the chase. He reveals how they have been refined and reinvented in films as diverse as the silent classic The Phantom of the Opera, low-budget cult shockers The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Evil Dead, and Oscar-winners The Silence of the Lambs and Get Out. Mark analyses the importance of archetypal figures such as the clown, the savant and the 'final girl'. And of course, he celebrates his beloved Exorcist films by examining two unforgettable but very different shock moments in The Exorcist and The Exorcist III. Ultimately, Mark argues, horror is the most cinematic of genres, because no other kind of film deploys images and sound to such powerful and primal effect.

Part 5Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema • 2018 • Creativity

Moral Licensing

How are our moral decisions influenced by factors we’re not aware of? A phenomenon known as Moral Licensing claims that when we do something good, we often subconsciously allow ourselves to then do something bad. In this episode, I take a look at whether those who donate money to charity become more likely to let a kid take the blame for a crime they know they committed.

S3E2Mind Field • 2018 • Brain

Deserts

The world's deserts force animals to come up with ingenious ways of coping with hostile conditions, giving rise to the most incredible survival stories on earth.

4/6Planet Earth II • 2016 • Nature

Part 2

Life and Death

2/3Human • 2015 • People

Curing Alzheimer's

Horizon investigates a new era of Alzheimer's research, which is bringing hope to millions of sufferers across the world. New scanning and gene technology is allowing scientists to identify the disease at its earliest stages, often 15 years before symptoms appear and the brain cells are destroyed. A series of new drugs trials in Colombia, the USA and Europe are showing startling success in reducing beta amyloid, the protein which is a hallmark of the disease. It is also becoming clear that changes in lifestyle can prevent the development of the disease. A new system inside the brain has been discovered which clears amyloid when we are in deep sleep, but allows it to accumulate if we don't sleep well. The programme reveals that for sufferers in the early stages of the disease, brain connections, or synapses, can be strengthened and even replaced by absorbing enough of the right nutrients. A UK-wide trail helps sufferers in the early stages to concentrate on improving everyday tasks, and in the process not only make their lives easier, but helps to reactivate the planning and organisational parts of the brain. In an ageing world, where the biggest risk of developing Alzheimer's is old age, the scientific breakthroughs in Alzheimer's disease are bringing hope where once there was despair.

Horizon • 2016 • Health

Power

This episode reveals the fascinating chain of events that made everyday miracles such as turning on a light or boiling a kettle possible. Michael Mosley, Professor Mark Miodownik and Dr Cassie Newland tell the amazing story of three of the most transformative inventions of all time: the steam engine, the electrical generator and the steam turbine. They explain how these inventions came about by sparks of inventive genius and steady, incremental improvements hammered out in British workshops.

Part 1The Genius of Invention • 2013 • Technology

Design Documentaries

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Mountain

They begin in California, viewing a property built from the wings and tail fins of a Boeing 747. In Arizona, the pair stay in a modern house with an innovative take on an ancient technique of absorbing the heat during the day and releasing it at night. In New Zealand, Caroline and Piers view a house camouflaged using cedar cladding, while their last stop takes them to a hexagonal alpine chalet with a steel chimney core that anchors it to the mountain.

S1E1The World's Most Extraordinary Homes • 2017 • Design

USA

Piers and Caroline end their tour in Florida with a waterfront wonder, a modest pavilion, a modernist showpiece and a high-end home built on stilts

S2E1The World's Most Extraordinary Homes • 2018 • Design

Tinker Hatfield: Footwear Design

Tinker Hatfield's background in architecture and athletics sparked his game-changing shoe designs for Nike, including the iconic Air Jordan series.

S1E2Abstract: The Art of Design • 2017 • Design

The Art of the Impossible

Professor Sir Roger Penrose is more than just a fan of MC Escher's mind-bending art. During the course of a long creative collaboration, the British mathematician and the Dutch artist exchanged ideas and inspirations. Some of Escher's most iconic images have their origin in Penrose's mathematical sketches - while the artist's work has served as a starting point for the professor's own explorations of new scientific ideas. To coincide with the first ever Escher retrospective in the UK, Penrose takes us on a personal journey through Escher's greatest masterpieces - marvelling at his intuitive brilliance and the penetrating light it still sheds on complex mathematical concepts.

2015 • Design

Meet the Makers

Join us as we travel across the globe and meet artisans of some age-old crafts. In a time where consumerism fuels the machines of mass production and instant gratification, watch as these men and women devote their lives to preserve the artistry of their trade with their handiwork.

2018 • Design

Platon: Photography

Platon’s fearless portraits capture the souls of world leaders and ordinary people. A shoot with Gen. Colin Powell provides a window into his process.

S1E7Abstract: The Art of Design • 2017 • Design

Science Documentaries

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Masters of Time

The last episode in the series examines how humans perceive and experience time, investigating the internal body clock which tells people when to eat, drink, sleep and relax. The importance of accurately measuring time is explored in relation to human evolution, and there's a debate about whether mankind will ever be able to travel between past, present and future.

3/3Time MachineScience

Emergence

How can many stupid things combine to form smart things? How can proteins become living cells? How become lots of ants a colony? What is emergence?

In a Nutshell • 2017 • Science

People Power

Saiful investigates how humans as living pulsing machines actually use energy, asking whether it's possible to 'supercharge' the human body and increase its performance. Live experiments explore everything from the explosive potential of everyday foods, to what we put into our bodies (and what comes out!), as well as how we measure up to the machines we use every day. Saiful even experiments on himself, showing images captured inside his own stomach. Every single one of us is an incredibly sophisticated energy conversion machine, finely tuned over millions of years of evolution. So will we ever be able to improve the human body's performance? Can we ever do more with less energy?

2/3Supercharged: Fuelling the Future • 2016 • Science

100,000,000 Years From Now

100,000,000 years from now, a team of alien geologists arrive at a mysterious blue-green planet, and decide to investigate. Here's what they'll find…

It's Okay To Be Smart • 2016 • Science

New Voice of South Africa

Young black teens in South Africa's townships are learning to be radio reporters by trying to understand the concept of "Ubuntu" and what it means to their community.

4/8Stories of Impact • 2019 • Science

Is Reality Real?

Do we live in the "real world" or is it all in our mind? Our perception of reality is controlled by society. Thanks to "the optimism bias", we make unrealistic assessments about our own reality. Human senses capture only a small part of nature.

S4E08Through the WormholeScience

Randoms! Documentaries

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World War Speed

Follow historian James Holland on his quest to understand how the use of amphetamines affected the course of World War II and unleashed the first pharmacological arms race.

Secrets of the Dead • 2019 • History

Dictatorship

Suzy Klein reaches the 1930s, when the totalitarian dictators sought to use and abuse music for ideological ends. Suzy looks at the lives of Richard Strauss, Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev, who produced some of the 20th-century's best-loved music whilst working for Hitler and Stalin. The political message of Peter and the Wolf is revealed as well as the secret code hidden in Shostakovich's quartets and Strauss's personal reasons for trying to please the Nazis. Suzy also uncovers why Hitler adored Wagner but banned Mendelssohn's Wedding March; how Stalin used music to subtly infiltrate minds; and why Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, a Nazi favourite, appeals to our most primitive senses. Suzy also raises some intriguing questions: Can we pin meaning onto music? What are the moral responsibilities of artists? And did the violence and tyranny of those regimes leave an indelible stain on the music they produced?

2/3Tunes for Tyrants • 2017 • Music

The Age of Revolution

'Revolution', Michael Wood observes, 'has been a fact of life in Chinese history'. Between 1850 and 1950, three cataclysmic revolutions shook China to the core, but out of them, today's China emerged.

6/6The Story of China • 2016 • History

Powering the Mind

What is memory? How do our memories change from childhood to adulthood? How we can build up greater brain reserves to power our mind into old age? Brain epigenetics, how the expression of our DNA can be changed by our experiences, is an intriguing new area of science with huge health implications.

6/10Catalyst: Season 1 • 2015 • Brain

Inside Chernobyl's Mega Tomb

Documentary which follows the construction of a trailblazing 36,000-tonne steel structure to entomb the ruins of the nuclear power plant destroyed in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. It films close up with the team of international engineers as they race to build the new structure before Chernobyl's original concrete sarcophagus - the hastily built structure that covers the reactor - collapses. Built to last just thirty years, the temporary sarcophagus is now crumbling, putting the world at risk of another release of radioactive dust. Radiation levels make it impossible for workers to build the new shelter directly over the old reactor, so engineers are erecting the new megastructure - taller than the tower of Big Ben and three times heavier than the Eiffel Tower - to one side and will then face the challenge of sliding the largest object ever moved on land into place over the old reactor.

2016 • Technology

Connecting to the Future

Go into the physical heart of the Internet and learn about the very first message sent by UCLA professor Leonard Kleinrock.

1/3Digits • 2017 • Technology