Wednesday 29 Oct 2014
Anatomist Alice Roberts returns in a new series that reveals how our body tells the story of human evolution. She looks at the clues – from the way that we walk to the shape of our faces – that lie within every one of us and which show our extraordinary transformation from forest ape to the most powerful species on the planet.
Alice explores the advantages our skeleton brought us as we learned to stand up, what our saliva can tell us about our evolutionary journey and how the way we relate to each other helped us in our struggle for survival. And she shows how our evolutionary progress also came at a cost – from bad backs to difficult childbirth. As much about our bodies today as it is about our bodies six million years ago, Origins Of Us aims to change the way people see themselves for ever.
In an intriguing three-part series, Professor Marcus du Sautoy goes in search of a mysterious code: the numbers, shapes and patterns that govern our world. From the delicate architecture of our veins and arteries to the startling beauty of the night sky, bizarre numbers are everywhere. The Code is the language of existence that explains all before it – from the motion of the planets to the perfect synchronisation of vast flocks of birds.
Marcus shows how the same code that dictates the structure of the Giant's Causeway is linked to soap bubbles and cutting-edge architecture, and he explains how the hyper-real animations in films such as Up can unmask a Jackson Pollock fake. The code connects all things – you'll never see the world in the same way again.
In a revealing one-off drama, The Man Who Crossed Hitler tells the true story of a Jewish lawyer who challenged Hitler – and paid with his life in Dachau concentration camp. Ian Hart (Five Daughters) plays Adolf Hitler and Ed Stoppard (Upstairs, Downstairs) plays lawyer Hans Litten to bring this little-known story to life.
In the summer of 1931, with Germany on the brink of economic collapse, the audacious Hans Litten put Adolf Hitler on the witness stand of a Berlin court. At great personal risk the young lawyer aimed to expose the true character of Hitler to the German public and thereby halt the phenomenal rise of the Nazi Party.
In a humiliating and hostile cross-examination, Hitler was forced to account for his violent methods, his apparent contempt for the law and his stated desire to destroy German democracy. Hitler survived the ordeal, but it was a close encounter and he never forgot it.
Accompanying the drama is a 60-minute documentary that combines expert interviews and original archive material to explore the extraordinary story of Litten himself.
A Hardy Pictures production
Last year, award-winning director Adam Wishart's mother died of a cancer that she seemed to have inherited from her mother. He set out to discover if he also had this familial cancer gene – or any other gene that might impact on his health.
To understand why it is important to know, Adam meets other patients who have already discovered they have bad genes. Julie's mother and sister have both suffered from cancer, and she is facing the terrible choice of having a double mastectomy to prevent her from going the same way.
One of the most extraordinary benefits of the brave new world of genetics is called Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). Tracy and Thomas are in the midst of the process, screening embryos in order to prevent a gene mistake being passed down the generations. Will the wonder of science deliver a healthy baby?
A few hundred couples go through PGD every year on the NHS, but there are millions of people in Britain with diseased genes: is the NHS serving them? Wishart reveals that if the NHS screened the relatives of patients with a disease called Familial Hypocholesterolemia then the nation could save thousands of people from suffering, and money which could be diverted to other patients in need.
BBC Productions, Bristol
It's a road trip like no other. Take pairs of celebrities, among them Sue Perkins and Charlie Boorman, and send them on a life-changing road trip as they tackle one of the world's most infamous roads. Each pair undertakes the drive of their life along a route which presents them with challenges and dangers at every turn.
From the wilds of Alaska, across India's highest mountain peaks and through Peru's remote Andean highway, each programme pushes them to their physical and emotional limits. Along the way they discover the amazing people, cultures and stories that reveal how man's ingenuity and the power of nature fight for supremacy on the world's most treacherous roads.
A Renegade Pictures production
This new three-part series challenges Stephen Mangan, Sue Perkins and Alison Steadman to learn the art of natural navigation while travelling through some of the UK's most stunning landscapes.
Without the help of maps or satnavs, the intrepid trio must rely on the elements, including the sun, moon, stars, weather, and even plants and animals to guide them on their extraordinary journey. Together they will master techniques, then attempt to use them as they navigate exquisite locations which have an emotional connection to each of them.
From Alison's childhood holidays in North Wales to Sue's adopted hometown of Cornwall and Stephen's passion for the West Coast of Ireland where he proposed to his wife, the team will see with new eyes these places of personal importance. Without the trappings of modern travel, will they learn to understand and connect with the natural world, themselves and each other?
BBC correspondent Frank Gardner goes in search of the origins of the cartoon character that inspired him to become an adventuring journalist.
Frank grew up reading Tintin, and as soon as he was old enough to explore the world for himself, he set off for Russia on his first adventure – just like Tintin.
Frank investigates the similarities between Tintin's adventures and those of real-life photojournalist Robert Sexe, on whom Tintin – created by Belgian comic artist Hergé (Georges Remi) – is allegedly based. His quest leads him to Belgium and then on to Russia. With his waspish sense of humour and love of travel, Frank explores the secretive world of the early Soviet Union and an era now seen as a golden age of exploration and travel.
Author and journalist Ben Macintyre returns to BBC Two to tell the gripping story of perhaps the most extraordinary spy in British history, based on his best-selling book Agent Zigzag.
On a December night in 1942, a Nazi parachutist landed in a field in East Anglia. His mission: to sabotage Britain’s war effort. His name was Eddie Chapman, a handsome, womanising, working-class crook who quickly turned himself over to MI5 and became one of their most successful double agents. As Agent Zigzag, Chapman fooled the Germans so effectively that they awarded him their highest decoration: the Iron Cross.
Weaving together diaries, letters, secret MI5 files and personal testimony, Ben Macintyre reveals the truth about Britain's most sensational double agent.
A Walker George Films production
David Frost's 1977 interviews with former US President Richard Nixon were an international media event. They drew the biggest ever worldwide audience for a news interview. Frost questioned Nixon in sessions lasting a total of 28 hours on all aspects of his presidency – including Watergate, the political scandal which led to his downfall.
In a special BBC Two programme, Joan Bakewell talks to Sir David about his pursuit of the President and the political backdrop to the interviews. She hears about how he struck a business deal with showbiz agent "Swifty" Lazar, a man "noted for his ability to enter a revolving door behind you and come out in front"; the tense relationship between the Frost team and Nixon’s aides; and the personality of Nixon himself.
This is followed by a broadcast of the original 1977 Watergate interview, and also ties in with the showing of the hit 2008 film Frost/Nixon, starring Michael Sheen and Frank Langella in the title roles.
David Paradine Productions
Caroline Quentin follows private owners of crumbling historic buildings as they save them from ruin and restore them into wonderful 21st-century homes. For Caroline this is a labour of love – she admits to being a serial home restorer over the past decade.
With the help of architectural expert Kieran Long and social historian Dr Kate Williams, Restoration Home turns detective to unravel the properties' extraordinary pasts. As the new owners transform the buildings into their homes, the family trees of these ruins start to emerge. Tales of royalty, murder and civil unrest are revealed as these once-forgotten gems are brought back to life. The properties range from a Gothic church to a Twenties pumping station.
As each building is rescued from the brink of dereliction by its new owners, Restoration Home reveals the secrets, long since forgotten, of previous ones.
A Remarkable Television (an Endemol Company) production
Digging For Britain is all about the best British archaeology – but it's not just about digging. In this second series, Dr Alice Roberts joins this year's most exciting excavations and goes behind the scenes to find out how archaeologists use their discoveries to unlock the past.
Alice's journey takes her from digs to laboratories, where she meets the experts restoring ancient treasures, piecing together evidence from skeletons and using cutting-edge science to interpret mysterious artefacts.
Stories featured in the series include: Hadrian's Wall, where new discoveries show the Romans never left – in fact, many stayed on to become the British warriors of the Dark Ages; the excavation of the citadel of a Viking chief in Scotland; the Bronze Age bones that are revealing incredible secrets about our ancestors' beliefs; and the Channel Island dig that allows Alice to walk in the footsteps of the Neanderthals.
History Cold Case returns to shed new light on major turning points in British history by piecing together clues from intriguing human remains.
In this brand new series the team sets up a mobile forensic unit at the site of each archaeological discovery and presents the often unexpected findings directly back to the local community.
Each episode sees the team attempt to rebuild the profiles of the people behind the skeletons, whose personal stories add to our understanding of history.
World-renowned forensic anthropologist Professor Sue Black leads the highly skilled team in cases across the country, including a jumble of human remains in the caves of the North York Moors, 17 bodies in a dry well in Norwich city centre and a mass grave just beyond York's city walls.
With advanced forensics and cutting-edge historical knowledge, what secrets that lie below Britain's cities will they manage to unravel?
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