COVID-19 is far from the first pandemic to wreak havoc in the world. A long line of infectious diseases have devastated and in some cases destroyed entire societies. Almost all of them started in animals and made the jump to humans. We are terrified of pandemics. And with good reason. Infectious diseases have cost the lives of countless people over the centuries, devastating families, towns, and even societies. The Black Death spread across Europe and Asia in the 14th century leaving millions dead in its wake. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, European colonists brought smallpox to the Americas, the Pacific region and to Australia. In Europe, the 17th century saw a series of major epidemics. And at the end of the First World War, more people died of the Spanish flu than on the battlefield. This documentary examines the causes of these epidemics - whether it be lack of hygiene, interaction with animals, overcrowding, or the growth of cities - and how people travelling helped to spread disease and promote pandemics. It also sheds a light on the impact these infectious diseases have had on politics and societal change. Today, the world is facing COVID-19. Measures such as quarantine and lockdowns are being rolled out in an effort to control the spread of the virus; and, just as our ancestors did before us, some are questioning how effective they are. Over the centuries, scientists managed to develop treatments and medicines to help control or even eradicate infectious diseases. Virologists are facing that task again with the coronavirus, as the world frantically searches for ways to overcome a pandemic which threatens our modern way of life.
Sleep has long been regarded as nothing more than a way to charge our batteries. But what if it can control our weight, allow us to make memories, and help us to fight off diseases like Alzheimer’s? We travel the world to investigate how revolutionary new technology has revealed the sleeping brain as an energetic and purposeful machine.
2016 • Health
Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies, with a surface area of about 20 square feet in adults. When we are cut or wounded, our skin begins to repair itself through a complex, well-coordinated process. Sarthak Sinha takes us past the epidermis and into the dermis to investigate this regenerative response.
When Hannah Fry is diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 36, she starts to interrogate the way we diagnose and treat cancer by digging into the statistics to ask whether we are making the right choices in how we treat this disease. Are we sometimes too quick to screen and treat cancer? Do doctors always speak to us honestly about the subject? It may seem like a dangerous question to ask, but are we at risk of overmedicalising cancer? At the same time, Hannah records her own cancer journey in raw and emotional personal footage, where the realities of life after a cancer diagnosis are laid bare.
2022 • Health
Sitting down for brief periods can help us recover from stress or recuperate from exercise. But nowadays, our lifestyles make us sit much more than we move around. Are our bodies built for such a sedentary existence?
Understand the importance of persuading the public to protect themselves during health crises. History shows that handwashing, social distancing and grassroots campaigning all play important roles in helping to shift behavior and save lives.
S1E4 • Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer • 2021 • Health
Gloria Hunniford and Chris Bavin make sense of which foods we should and shouldn't be eating. Gloria reveals her own experience of being diagnosed as pre-diabetic. With headlines suggesting millions are at risk of developing diabetes, she exposes how changing your diet can stop the condition in its tracks, and perhaps even reverse it. Chris unpicks which fruit and veg are best to eat. After years of working as a greengrocer, even he's unsure if he's eating enough, and how those five-a-day really stack up.
S1E2 • Food: Truth or Scare • 2016 • Health