Latest • 36 videos

Webb Telescope: The Story So Far

In July 2022, the James Webb Space Telescope released its first images. They were visually stunning, and it was clear they provided more detail of stars, galaxies and planets than ever before. But for the scientists waiting on the data, this was just the beginning of their journey to discover what the new telescope would reveal. Since then, they have been working hard and publishing papers on all the data JWST has been sending back. Two years ago, just after the first images were released, Chris Lintott set off on a road trip to meet some of the scientists that were excitedly waiting on the first data. He wanted to find out what they hoped it could reveal. To mark the second anniversary Chris, along with fellow presenters Maggie Aderin-Pocock and George Dransfield, headed off to meet scientists old and new, to find out what the Webb Telescope has told us so far. Chris gives us a run-down of the highs and lows the Webb Telescope has been through and the other discoveries it has made. Maggie is off to Bristol University to revisit Dr Hannah Wakeford who has been using JWST data to reveal what interesting chemicals exoplanet atmospheres contain. George meets Professor Leigh Fletcher at the University of Leicester. When Chris met him two years ago, only one JWST image of Jupiter had been released. Now, he has data from all four of the outer planets of the solar system, and they have all thrown up surprises. JWST has revealed new jet streams on Jupiter and provided a greater understanding of its Galilean moons. Seasonal changes on Saturn have now been documented, and Uranus and Neptune have thrown up quirks that need another few years of work to understand. Chris also visits the University of Cambridge to meet Dr Sandro Tacchella, who has been part of a team looking back at some of the earliest galaxies. He explains what new light the JWST data can shed on ancient stars, and what that can reveal about how our cosmos formed after the Big Bang. Finally, our resident astronomer Pete Lawrence guides us through what there is to see in this month’s night sky, and how you too can look at some of the same targets as the James Webb Space Telescope – just not quite in the same level of detail!

S68E4BBC The Sky at Night • 2024 • Astronomy

Fantastic Beasts: A Natural History

Stephen Fry embarks on a fascinating journey to discover the stories behind some of the world's most fantastic beasts. Mythical creatures have fascinated us for thousands of years, but why are we still captivated by these mythological beasts, even in this modern age of science and technology? With the help of scientists, historians, writers and film-makers, Stephen finds out why the world of magical animals is more popular today than ever before. By digging for dragons, meeting distant relatives of the unicorn or swimming with an unlikely inspiration for mermaids, Stephen uncovers the secrets behind some of our best-loved mythical creatures, and reveals the real-life beasts that have inspired some of the greatest legends in history, from rhinos to narwhals, vervet monkeys to manatees.

2022 • Nature

Easter Island Origins

They are some of the most famous and mysterious monuments on the planet. Nearly 900 giant stone heads scattered across a remote island in the middle of the Pacific. Now, brand new evidence is challenging everything we thought we knew about Easter Island’s awe-inspiring statues – and those who made them. Drawing on the latest science, this authoritative documentary radically rewrites the story of Easter Island.

2024 • Nature

The Lost Territories

The third episode opens on a world of drug trafficking that has been fragmented by the efforts of the police. Dealers have now changed; invisibility is their chief weapon. The trade has shifted to areas beyond law-and-order, like war zones in Afghanistan or areas with guerilla activity like Colombia. Designer drugs, which are easy to manufacture and conceal, play a key role in the transformation of the traffic. In Mexico, the cartels have dragged the whole country into a merciless spiral of violence – wherever one looks, the toll of the war on drugs makes for grim reading. Synthetic drugs, which are easy to manufacture and conceal, herald the fourth generation to come: traffickers in white coats. This poses the question: Is it time to legalize drugs, radically changing the current situation and perhaps the way we perceive them?

S1E3The Story of Drug Trafficking • 2020 • People

Era of the Drug Lords

The first world power goes to war against drugs: the United States strikes hard. But the drug trade never dies. It moves, transforms, adapts. As the war on drugs progresses around the world, a new generation of drug lords emerged at the end of the 1970s, more powerful than ever. These criminals were not only in it for the money; they also wanted power. Pablo Escobar was the most notorious, but there was also Toto Riina in Sicily, Khun Sa in the Golden Triangle, and Felix Gallardo in Mexico, all of whom changed the destinies of their respective territories by taking drug trafficking to a global scale. They defied states and threatened the powers-that-be. It took almost 20 years for states to get organized and come up with strategies to bring down the drug barons.

S1E2The Story of Drug Trafficking • 2020 • People

The Era of Empires

Drug trafficking was not invented by a mafia but by the European colonial powers in the 19th century. Opium use spread throughout Asia, promoted by colonial powers. Meanwhile, the western pharmaceutical industry was developing some miraculous products, such as morphine, cocaine, and heroin. Addiction became a global scourge, and prohibition gradually became the norm. But outlawing these substances at the beginning of the 20th century gave rise to the first drug-trafficking networks, which often sought to operate under state protection, in Mexico, France and China… These networks underwent unprecedented growth during the Cold War, when secret services used the drug trade as a geopolitical instrument. The United States paid the price for this: In 1970, one third of their troops in Vietnam were addicted to heroin. A year later, in an historic speech, President Richard Nixon launched the war on drugs.

S1E1The Story of Drug Trafficking • 2020 • People

Fairy Tales

Fairy tales have survived thousands of years for a reason. Explore their far-flung history and how the stories speak to fundamental human concerns.

S3E14Explained • 2021 • Creativity

Country Music

Dirt roads. Pickup trucks. Hip-hop? As the borders around country music shift, who decides what defines the popular genre, and who gets to be a star?

S3E13Explained • 2021 • Music

Time

Time flies - sometimes. Its passage can seem to speed up and slow down. Why do we experience time the way we do, and how do we take back some control?

S3E12Explained • 2021 • Physics

Dance Crazes

From the waltz to voguing, dance crazes have connected people throughout history. But when a dance catches on, who gets the credit - and compensation?

S3E11Explained • 2021 • Music

Plastic Surgery

The Instagram face. A shapely posterior. Cosmetic surgery can make the latest beauty trends a reality. Explore its origins and effects, inside and out.

S3E10Explained • 2021 • Health

Hurricanes

As the planet warms, hurricanes could become even more dangerous and destructive. What can be done to survive and minimize the threat of these storms?

S3E9Explained • 2021 • Nature

Apologies

Apologizing is tough, and in this era of public mea culpas, forgiveness isn't guaranteed. What makes for a good apology, and why does it hold such power?

S3E8Explained • 2021 • Lifehack

Your Skin

Don't panic, but our skin plays host to trillions of bacteria, fungi, mites and other microscopic guests. Go beyond skin-deep with our largest organ.

S3E7Explained • 2021 • Health

Chess

For centuries, chess has captured hearts and minds - and pawns - and it's more popular than ever. What makes this ever-changing board game so special?

S3E6Explained • 2021 • Brain

Coextinction

Two passionate filmmakers connect with activists, Indigenous leaders, and renowned scientists to understand the fate of the endangered southern resident orca and find solutions to our most pressing environmental threats.

2021 • Nature

Inside the K-Pop Dream Machine

The Korean Wave is taking the world by storm, and Korean Pop, or K-pop, is at the forefront. Krishnan Guru-Murthy goes inside South Korea's K-pop dance schools, investigating the hidden cost of becoming the next big idol. He learns how teenagers are crafted to be idols with relentless training regimes, scripted answers and picture-perfect looks, though just one per cent will 'make it big'.

2024 • Music

Secrets of the Neanderthals

A unique excavation unravels the complex and creative nature of Neanderthals, shattering preconceptions through the lens of a landmark discovery - the best-preserved Neanderthal skeleton found in over 25 years.

2024 • History

Hidden Japan

The culture of Japan is incredible, from bloom festivals to ultra-modern cities. But there are also more than 130 mammals and 600 bird species dwelling in Japan’s 6,852 islands. This island chain is long enough to span climate zones, providing a huge range of habitat.

2020 • Nature

Mysterious Origins of Insects

Exploring the realm of the creatures to better understand how they have evolved. Travelling from the rain forests of French Guiana to the Arctic Ocean, scientists use traditional and cutting edge techniques to examine both modern insects and the fossil record in their search for a single common insect ancestor.

2024 • Nature

Forest

David Attenborough reveals why forests are the ultimate test of survival for mammals, including a tiger whose stealth and hunting strategies are put to the test in the heat of an Indian summer. The programme also features footage of young chimpanzees learning how to get honey without angering bees and Siberian flying squirrel gliding elegantly and effortlessly from tree to tree.

S1E6Mammals with David Attenborough • 2024 • Nature

Heat

David Attenborough reveals how, by pushing themselves and their bodies to the limit, mammals have found remarkable ways to survive in the hottest places on earth. In South America, thirsty capuchins need all their natural curiosity as they search for water on the forest floor. Camels roam the vast outback of Australia, where they can go for weeks without water thanks to their distinctive hump as an energy store. White sifaka lemurs hug trees to avoid the heat in Madagascar's spiny forest and the echidna has an even stranger way of keeping cool - it blows snot bubbles.

S1E5Mammals with David Attenborough • 2024 • Nature

Cold

From ice-covered seas to snow-capped mountains, mammals have conquered the cold, living in the harshest places on earth thanks to their remarkable intelligence and adaptations. The programme features polar bears on the Arctic islands of Svalbard, arctic foxes in Canada's Hudson Bay, and snow leopards in the lofty mountains of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China.

S1E4Mammals with David Attenborough • 2024 • Nature

Water

How air-breathing mammals have found remarkable ways to overcome the many challenges of a life in water, from freshwater jungle ponds to the dark depths of the open ocean. Featuring footage of the birth of a huge sperm whale calf, never-before-filmed orca hunting behaviour, and coastal coyotes in Mexico that have learnt they can benefit from the daily offerings washed up on the shore with each new tide.

S1E3Mammals with David Attenborough • 2024 • Nature

The New Wild

A look at mammals which have adapted to the changes humans have made to their environment, from sea lions competing with stray dogs for food in the fish markets of Chile to pig-tailed macaques in palm oil plantations in south east Asia. Plus, a look at how elephants have learnt to use the cover of darkness to venture into towns in search of a midnight feast, often leaving destruction in their wake.

S1E2Mammals with David Attenborough • 2024 • Nature

Dark

Focuses on animals that thrive in the dark, from leopards that use night vision to hunt their prey to bats using echolocation to navigate the night skies.

S1E1Mammals with David Attenborough • 2024 • Nature

Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut

Delve into the digestive system with this lighthearted and informative documentary that demystifies the role gut health plays in our overall well-being.

2024 • Health

Our Changing Planet Series 3

In the third year of this seven-year project examining the issues facing the planet’s most threatened ecosystems, Dr. M. Sanjayan visits the Maldives to take an in-depth look at coral reefs and the urgent efforts to help them survive climate change.

S3E1 • 2024 • Nature

M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity

The life and work of M.C. Escher is presented primarily through his own words in the form of his writings being read against a backdrop of images associated to him, including archival footage of himself and images of his drawings. Many further details are provided by surviving family members. Escher himself considered what he did being caught between the worlds of art and mathematics - he not very good at either - his drawings always having an element of geometry. He made a conscious decision to work in monochromatic black and white realizing that he would be missing being able to convey ideas that are inherent with color. The evolution to two of his later periods is discussed, namely his series of drawings of the human eye, and what would become his ultimate fascination, that of the concept of infinity, whether it be real, as in the circle or the study of a man viewing a picture of himself viewing a picture of himself and so on, or perceived through illusions, such as his never-ending staircase. The documentary is buttressed by commentary from fan, musician Graham Nash who believes his brilliance has not yet been fully appreciated. Further Information

2021 • People

The Second Viking Age

The mid-10th-century reign of Harald Bluetooth as king of a newly unified, powerful and Christianized Denmark marked the beginning of a second Viking age. But the reign was not to last with the Normans finally winning the English Kingdom in 1066. We look at the final days of the Viking empire.

S1E6Vikings: The Rise and Fall • 2022 • History

The Wild West

Political turmoil in Norway leads a voyage of discovery west. The Vikings discover Iceland where they established lasting settlement. Further exploration from Iceland leads to the discovery of Greenland and to the shores of Newfoundland, making them the first Europeans to discover America.

S1E5Vikings: The Rise and Fall • 2022 • History

The Fall of Francia

The siege of Paris in 885 was the culmination of the Viking invasions of Francia. We look at the persistent Viking attacks on Francia and the enduring presence of the Scandinavians on the Frankish Empire and beyond.

S1E4Vikings: The Rise and Fall • 2022 • History

As Far East as Baghdad

The "Silk Road" opened up a world of trade for the Scandinavians in the East. Seeking further wealth, the Vikings known in the East as "the Rus" attacked Constantinople in 860. The Rus became a permanent and feared fixture in the Byzantine Empire.

S1E3Vikings: The Rise and Fall • 2022 • History

The Great Heathen Army

The Siege of York occurred from 866 when the Great Heathen Army laid claim to the Northumbrian capital of York. We look at the major battles, players and strongholds of the York battle and how the Vikings later came to control much of the 9th Century England.

S1E2Vikings: The Rise and Fall • 2022 • History

The Road to Lindisfarne

An attack on a small religious community on the holy island of Lindisfarne in AD 793 heralded the start of the Viking Age of conquest and expansion. For 200 years, the longships from Scandinavia threatened all of Europe. But it was far from their first attack. We reveal how the Vikings' reign of terror began in Scandinavia.

S1E1Vikings: The Rise and Fall • 2022 • History

Ukraine: Enemy in the Woods

Follows a Ukrainian battalion on the frontline of the war against Russia, filmed by the soldiers themselves as they try to defend a vital railway line, the capture of which would enable Russia to mount a direct attack on Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv. The film examines the lives of the 99-strong military company as they face sustained Russian assaults, presenting a ground-level view of the war through the eyes of the troops fighting it.

2024 • History