Michael Buerk looks at the transformation of the nation during the Victorian era, telling the surprising stories behind famous landmarks and the hidden heroes behind epic constructions. He begins by revealing how the Victorians created public transport and sewerage systems. Michael Buerk looks at how the Victorians created what is now known as the modern home, exploring the huge rise in house-building during the period. He travels to Fakenham, Norfolk, to visit the last remaining gasworks in England, and discovers how the Victorians mastered the art of producing `town gas" from coal. He also investigates how the kitchen was transformed with the advent of gas cookers, as more complex meals including the Sunday roast steadily became the norm across the nation.
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius is renowned for its decimation of Pompeii, but nearby, an equally impressive Roman settlement known as Herculaneum was lost to history. Today, the latest in technology is opening a wind to the past, as scientists digitally "unravel" the Herculaneum Scrolls.
In this episode, Ella Al-Shamahi explores the fate of the Neanderthals - asking why they became extinct, and discovering how they live on inside of us today. The programme starts in the caves of Gibraltar, which may have been the last place the Neanderthals survived. Discoveries here have shown the Neanderthals lived a good life - feasting on seafood and wild game. These were a people who were supremely well adapted to their environment. But about 40,000 years ago they disappeared. Why? One of the reasons might have been that they lost out in a physical showdown with modern humans. Ella investigates one of the world's oldest murder mysteries.