What makes plants grow is a simple enough question, but the answer turns out to be one of the most complicated and fascinating stories in science and took over 300 years to unravel. Timothy Walker, director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden, reveals how the breakthroughs of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, Chelsea gardener Phillip Miller and English naturalist John Ray created the science of botany. Between them these quirky, temperamental characters unlocked the mysteries of the plant kingdom and they began to glimpse a world where bigger, better and stronger plants could be created. Nurseryman Thomas Fairchild created the world's first artificial hybrid flower - an entirely new plant that didn't exist in nature. Today, botanists continue the search for new flowers, better crops and improved medicines to treat life-threatening diseases.
On the other side of the world under the crystal clear blue waters of the Pacific Ocean lies one of the most enchanting places on the planet. Over ten thousand miles away on the north eastern coast of Australia lies the Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of our world. It provides shelter to some hidden wildlife sanctuaries that contain some magical marine creatures. Iolo Williams dives deep beneath the surface of the coral sea to discover what state this natural wonder is in. He travels from the extreme swells of the northern part of the reef right down to the cooler pristine corals of the south. He discovers how healthy the Great Barrier Reef really is in some of its key locations to see and find out if there are real signs of hope the reef can survive the threat of global warming.
2018 • Nature
Coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine species. Survival in these undersea mega-cities is a challenge with many different solutions. A turtle heads to the reef's equivalent of a health spa - but she must use trickery to avoid the queue. A remarkable Grouper uses the fish equivalent of sign language to collaborate with an octopus, flushing their prey out of hiding holes. A metre-long, ferocious-jawed Bobbit Worm hides in its tunnel. Monocle Bream retaliate by squirting water to expose its sandy lair.
First transmitted in 1965, David Attenborough retraces the steps of the famous Scottish explorer Dr David Livingstone in the final part of his African adventure.David Attenborough starts his journey in Sesheke, on the northern bank of the Zambezi river in the Western Province of Zambia. Retracing Livingstone’s Zambezi expedition takes him from Sesheke to Victoria Falls, named by Livingstone in honour of Queen Victoria, through to Zumbo and Tete in Mozambique.Using extracts from Dr Livingstone’s journal David Attenborough revisits African traditions and ceremonies that shocked Livingstone at the time, such as a masked dance featuring the Makishi devil.