Dr Helen Castor explores the life - and death - of Joan of Arc. Joan was an extraordinary figure - a female warrior in an age that believed women couldn't fight, let alone lead an army. But Joan was driven by faith, and today more than ever we are acutely aware of the power of faith to drive actions for good or ill. Since her death, Joan has become an icon for almost everyone - the left and the right, Catholics and Protestants, traditionalists and feminists. But where in all of this is the real Joan - the experiences of a teenage peasant girl who achieved the seemingly impossible? Through an astonishing manuscript, we can hear Joan's own words at her trial, and as Helen unpicks Joan's story and places her back in the world that she inhabited, the real human Joan emerges.
2015 • History
The rains are late. It is the most brutal time of year. Babies born into drought face starvation. The weak and the injured are weeded out. Everything is desperate for rain. When it finally arrives, it is a downpour on an enormous scale. Alien creatures emerge into a different world. The wet season begins.
It’s October in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley. The hottest and harshest time of year. But this year dry season conditions are exacerbated by a global El Nino event… the Valley is in the throes of drought. There’s been no rain since April and desperate animals are drawn to the only remaining source of water in the Valley – the dwindling Luangwa River...
The dramatic story of the defense of France against Hitler's invading army in order to enable the desperate evacuation of over 300K men of the British Expeditionary Force and Allied troops across the English Channel to safety in 1940.
In the 15th century, an inventor in a workshop in Strasburg came up with a machine that would eventually change the history of the entire world and shake a religion to its core. The choice of the first work to be printed is an astute one: Saint Jerome’s Latin version of the Bible.
The battle between the French and English for the French territory of New France hinges on the presence of the British navy. And the Battle on the Plains of Abraham is tipped to Great Britain by the solidly trained soldiers of the British army. This changed the landscape of North America.
The former Soviet Union collectivized many aspects of agricultural and industrial development in the 1950's. While some efforts were successful, others, like the cotton-growing around the Aral Sea, have proven to be an ecological nightmare.
Constantinople was a part of the Roman Empire, then became the seat of the Byzantine Empire and then was the imperial city of the Ottoman Empire. Here is the story of the fabled city and its history of power and conflict through the ages.
DJ and broadcaster Rita Ray travels to Mali in West Africa, home to a deep musical culture and ancient instruments that are the hallmark of their sound. Mali has produced more Grammy-winning artists than any other African country, and this well of talent has drawn in artists and producers from around the world to collaborate with the local musicians. Whilst the country has been rocked by Islamist insurgency, leading to a ban on music in some areas, Rita finds out how a traditional way of life and rich musical culture have endured.
DJ and broadcaster Rita Ray travels to South Africa, home to distinctive vocal harmonies that have travelled all over the world. Visiting Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, she discovers the extraordinary songs and harmonies that have given this country a voice abroad. They have often carried messages about inequality and injustice at home, resulting in beautiful music with a real sense of purpose. South Africa is a diverse nation, and each tribal group has its own musical traditions.
DJ and broadcaster Rita Ray travels to Nigeria, home of some of the most influential African music of the last 60 years. The country's extraordinary polyrhythms have powered highlife, funk and Afrobeat for decades, and can still be heard in modern pop music. Travelling to Lagos and beyond, Rita traces the importance of rhythm in Nigeria's music and discovers the many different musical styles it has created, from Yoruba juju music, to acoustic singer-songwriters and world-class pop.
Formed from the remains of a 2.5 million-year-old imploded volcano, the Ngorongoro crater is a study in contradictions: On one hand, it's a self-sustained and plentiful land that provides for the many animals that call it home. Conversely, its isolation threatens the existence of many of its key species. What does the future hold for this unique habitat?
While the immense ecosystem of the Kalahari is characterized by its harsh conditions, it also offers a wealth of resources to the native wildlife. From the burrows of nocturnal bat-eared foxes to the massive colonies of harvester ants, the region provides habitats for a vast array of life.
Deep within the arid expanse of the Kalahari Desert lies a true anomaly of nature: a land shaped by the unstoppable flow of inland floods to create one of the greatest wildlife havens in Africa. Experience the life-giving might of the Okavango Delta, in all its lush beauty.
Two billion years ago, a giant meteorite crashed into southern Africa's interior plateau, forming a six-mile-deep crater. Today, the site of this cataclysmic event is the Vredefort Dome--a dazzling and rich ecosystem of unique plant and animal life.
Take a trip through the spectacularly diverse terrain of the Waterberg--a South African land so old it was formed before terrestrial life itself. Today, its sprawling grasslands are home to some of the most eclectic wildlife on Earth, all sustained by the region's abundant water supply.
How do animals experience the world around them? How does what they see impact their place in nature and how has their place in nature impacted what they see? We asked Professor Thomas Cronin to show us how the most interesting and prolific eyes in the animal kingdom work and how they came to be.
2018 • Nature
The life story and achievements of dreamer and physicist Albert Einstein.
2008 • People
There is plenty of food in the Pacific Ocean, but it is the challenge of finding that food that drives all life in the Pacific. In the voracious Pacific we meet a destructive army of mouths, a killer with a hundred mouths and the biggest mouth in the ocean.
Man has explored land, the oceans surface, and large parts of the solar system, and in the 21st century we are just beginning to explore the depths of the Pacific Ocean. We yearn to unravel the mysterious Pacific but she does not give up her secrets willingly.
On a cosmic time scale, human history is as brief as the blink of an eye. By compressing all 13.8 billion years of time into a 10 minute scale, this video shows just how young we truly are, and just how ancient and vast our universe is. Starting with the big bang and culminating in the appearance of homo sapiens, this experience follows the unfolding of time at 22 million years per second, adhering closely to current scientific understanding.
2018 • Astronomy
The universe is hiding something. In fact, it is hiding a lot. Everything we experience on Earth, the stars and galaxies we see in the cosmos—all the “normal” matter and energy that we understand—make up only 5% of the known universe. The other 95% is made up of two mysterious components: “dark matter” and “dark energy.” We can’t see them, but we know they’re there. And what’s more—these two shadowy ingredients are locked in an epic battle to control the very fate of the universe. Now, scientists are trying to shed light on the so-called “dark sector” as the latest generation of detectors rev up, and powerful telescopes peer deeper into space than ever before to observe how it behaves. Will the discoveries help reveal how galaxies formed? In the series finale, NOVA Wonders journeys to the stars and back to investigate what we know—and don’t know. Find out how scientists are discovering new secrets about the history of the universe, and why they’re predicting a shocking future.
After 665 weightless days in space, NASA's most experienced astronaut, Peggy Whitson, smashes through the atmosphere on her last journey home to planet Earth. With unprecedented filming on board the ISS during Peggy's final mission and with the support of our other featured astronauts, we reveal how their time in space transforms their understanding of our planet's wonders, insights that will change our perspective, too. There is no place like home. Or is there? Just how strange is our rock, and is it really unique in the universe? Astronaut host – Peggy Whitson.