Episode 1

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Episode 1 of 2

Duration: 1 hour

This two-part series tells the stories of ten extraordinary and inspiring people who changed the world. These are stories of bravery, invention, determination, or discovery. But each story begins when they were children, illustrating an event that shaped them or set them on their path.

The unfolding narrative is brought to life and played out using a unique mix of drama, choreographed movement, specially composed music and animation. Aimed at five to seven-year-olds, the figures from history speak directly to their young audience, enabling the viewer to get to the emotional core of the story too - the excitement felt at a fossil glimpsed in the crumbling mud of a cliff face or the thrill of an engineering problem solved.

This first episode looks at Florence Nightingale, Alexander Graham Bell, Harriet Tubman, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and Mary Anning.

The programme looks at how Florence Nightingale revolutionised nursing forever. It shows how Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and follows Harriet Tubman as she frees slaves. It also looks at how Isambard Kingdom Brunel tunnelled through Box Hill to build the Great Western Railway, and watches Mary Anning discover the first Ichthyosaur fossil.

More episodes

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  • Photo: Florence Nightingale

    Photo: Florence Nightingale

    Florence Nightingale was born on 12 May 1820, and named after the Italian city of her birth. By the age of 17 Nightingale felt that God was calling her to do some work but wasn't sure what that work should be. She began to develop an interest in nursing, but her parents considered it to be a profession inappropriate to a woman of her class and background, and would not allow her to train as a nurse. They expected her to make a good marriage and live a conventional upper class woman's life.

    Read more about Florence Nightingale
  • Photo: Alexander Graham Bell

    Photo: Alexander Graham Bell

    Alexander Graham Bell was born on 3 March 1847 in Edinburgh and educated there and in London. His father and grandfather were both authorities on elocution and at the age of 16 Bell himself began researching the mechanics of speech. In 1870, Bell emigrated with his family to Canada, and the following year he moved to the United States to teach. Bell had long been fascinated by the idea of transmitting speech, and by 1875 had come up with a simple receiver that could turn electricity into sound. Others were working along the same lines, however Bell was granted a patent for the telephone on 7 March 1876 and it developed quickly from there.

    Read more about Alexander Graham Bell
  • Photo: Harriet Tubman

    Photo: Harriet Tubman

  • Photo: Harriet Tubman

    Photo: Harriet Tubman

    Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Harriet Ross; 1820 – March 10, 1913) was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. After escaping from slavery, into which she was born, she made thirteen missions to rescue more than 70 slaves using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era struggled for women's suffrage.

    Read more about Harriet Tubman
  • Photo: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

    Photo: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

  • Photo: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

    Photo: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

    Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born on 9 April 1806 in Portsmouth. His father Mark was a French engineer who had fled France during the revolution. Brunel was educated both in England and in France. When he returned to England he went to work for his father. Brunel's first notable achievement was the part he played with his father in planning the Thames Tunnel from Rotherhithe to Wapping, completed in 1843.

    Read more about Isambard Kingdom Brunel
  • Photo: Mary Anning

    Photo: Mary Anning

  • Photo: Mary Anning

    Photo: Mary Anning

    Mary Anning (21 May 1799 – 9 March 1847) was a British fossil collector, dealer and palaeontologist who became known around the world for a number of important finds she made in the Jurassic age marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis where she lived. Her work contributed to the fundamental changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the earth that occurred in the early 19th century. Anning searched for fossils in the area's Blue Lias cliffs, particularly during the winter months when landslides exposed new fossils that had to be collected quickly, before they were lost to the sea. It was dangerous work, and she nearly lost her life in 1833 during a landslide that killed her dog Tray. Her discoveries included the first ichthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified, which she and her brother Joseph found when she was just twelve years old.

    Read more about Mary Anning
  • BBC Schools: Famous People

    BBC Schools: Famous People

    Visit the BBC Schools website for information and games aimed at primary schoold children about these famous people: Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Christopher Columbus, Elizabeth Fry, Henry VIII, Edward Jenner, Florence Nightingale, Samuel Pepys, Pocahontas, Mary Seacole and
    George Stephenson.

    Visit the BBC Schools: Famous People website
  • The National Archives: Education - Florence Nightingale

    The National Archives: Education - Florence Nightingale

    Visit The National Archives website for an education exercise about Florence Nightingale.

    Learn more about Florence Nightingale
  • BBC School Radio: Victorian inventions - The telephone

    BBC School Radio: Victorian inventions - The telephone

    Visit the BBC School Radio website to listen to the story of the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1879.

    Listen to Victorian inventions - The telephone from BBC School Radio
  • BBC School Radio: Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the Great Western Railway

    BBC School Radio: Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the Great Western Railway

    Listen to this short drama on the building of the Great Western Railway by Brunel.

    Listen to Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the Great Western Railway
  • BBC Archive: Chronicle - The Great Iron Ship

    BBC Archive: Chronicle - The Great Iron Ship

    Watch the story of how Brunel ship, the SS Great Britain, was rescued from the icy shores of the Falkland Islands and transported on a final journey that ended with her passing under the Clifton Suspension Bridge into Bristol. First broadcast 13 June 1970.

    Watch Chronicle - The Great Iron Ship from the BBC Archive
  • BBC News: Audio slideshow: Jurassic woman

    BBC News: Audio slideshow: Jurassic woman

    She survived a lightning strike as a child, and it's suggested that she inspired the tongue-twister "She sells sea shells" - but it was her prolific work on the Dorset beaches, known now as the Jurassic Coast, that earned Mary Anning her place in scientific history. Watch this audio slideshow to find out more.

    Watch this audio slideshow of the life of Mary Anning
  • BBC News: Ichthyosaur fossil find returns to Lyme Regis

    BBC News: Ichthyosaur fossil find returns to Lyme Regis

    The fossil of an Ichthyosaur was discovered in Lyme Regis over 200 years ago in 1811 by local fossil hunter Mary Anning and her brother Joseph. Watch as one of the most famous fossils unearthed on the Jurassic Coast returned to the Dorset town where it was found.

    Watch Ichthyosaur fossil find returns to Lyme Regis from BBC News

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