The first programme of Darwin's Dangerous Idea explores the impact of Darwin’s ideas on religion and morality. Andrew Marr discovers that an important part of the Beagle’s mission was to return three natives to their homeland, Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost tip of Argentina. Years before he reached the Galapagos, they raised questions in his mind about the fragility of civilisation and what it really means to be human. Marr explores how Darwin developed his ideas when he returned to Britain and finally unleashed his theory of evolution by natural selection on the world. Darwin’s ideas are taken up by many of the major thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. We discover that his ideas helped motivate the Kaiser’s army in the First World War and would also help convince the United States government to drop its isolationist policy and enter the conflict. In the 20th century, we discover a growing backlash against Darwin’s ideas among fundamentalists from the world’s major religions. At the same time science has been showing that Darwin’s theory of natural selection holds sway over our behaviour - including our morality - as much as it does over the evolution of our bodies. There is significant scientific evidence that suggests that Darwin has returned humanity to nature, in all its wonder, its glory and its danger.
Once life arrived in the Galapagos, it exploded into unique and spectacular forms. David Attenborough investigates the driving forces behind such evolutionary innovations. We learn that life must be able to adapt quickly in these ever-changing volcanic landscapes. It has resulted in species found nowhere else in the world, such as giant whale sharks and marine iguanas that can spit sea-salt from their noses, dandelion seeds that grow into tree-sized plants and spiders that can blend perfectly into the darkness. Adaptation has been the key to survival in these islands so far, but the story of life in the Galapagos doesn’t end here. The catalyst that triggers these explosions of life remains in place.
In the heart of Brazil lie the immense wetlands of the Pantanal--an area 10 times the size of the Florida Everglades. In the dry season, over 650 species of birds descend onto the shallow marshes to feast, breed, and raise their young, including the the regal jabiru, the colorful hyacinth macaw, and the noisy chacalaca.
Visit the Bismarck Sea, a region forgotten by civilisation, where life goes on in harmony with nature as it has for thousands of years, untouched by the troubles of the modern world. You’ll dive amongst the eerie wrecks of WWII planes and ships, navigate darkness-shrouded caves and dodge swift-moving reef sharks.
For the last decade, a team of frontline medics has been fighting to save Borneo's critically endangered orangutans. Armed with cameras, International Animal Rescue has documented their struggle: pulling apes from devastated jungle, giving emergency medical care, rehabilitating and releasing the healthiest orangutans back into the wild. This is both the story of their life-saving work and of how one of our closest wild relatives has been pushed to the brink of extinction. Combining genuine rescue footage with contributions from experts throughout, this documentary looks toward the future and asks what hope remains to save the orangutan.
2018 • Nature