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17 September 2014
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The British Isles: A Natural History
British Isles: A Natural History

Over eight programmes Alan Titchmarsh journeys through Britain's natural past.

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3 Billion Years in the Making - Programme 1
Beginning in a familiar garden setting, Alan peels back the layers of Britain's varied past. He travels to his native Yorkshire to reveal how innocent sounding place names provide evidence of a wild legacy. On Scotland's Isle of May, he discovers how white seal pups hold a clue to Britain's snowy heritage. Finally, Alan explores how diverse rock formations are a testament to Britain's turbulent past.
Journey through geological time and watch the world take shape
Find out how our dynamic Earth has changed over the last billion years
From Jurassic Oxford to Scotland's Himalayas, Alan explores the secret history hidden in the rocks beneath our feet. He discovers how Scotland and England drifted together from their original locations, near the Equator and the South Pole, and finds fossils which reveal that the Yorkshire Dales was once a sea with coral reefs. The volcanic eruption which created the Giant's Causeway marked the birth of the Atlantic Ocean and the emergence of the British Isles.
Explore a world of Jurassic giants
How scientists uncover the biology of ancient organisms

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Alan gets under the skin of the much misunderstood Neanderthal man, examines relics from the past and discovers that an ice sheet covering most of Britain stopped at London's Finchley Road tube station. Armed with a geologist's microphone, he eavesdrops on the groans of a Norwegian glacier.

In Trafalgar Square, 19th century builders found an extraordinary collection of bones, including those of hippos, hyenas and lions, demonstrating that the Ice Age was not unrelentingly cold.
Discover how Neaderthals survived the ice-age
Travel through time from ice-house to green-house
Alan ventures 50 metres below the Channel, scales an ancient tree in the New Forest and stalks red deer in Scotland to tell the story of how island Britain was created. He searches for clues across the country, discovering tropical nickar nuts in Scotland, palm trees growing at latitudes where polar bears should feel more at home and watching whooper swans in Cambridgeshire who arrive from Siberia for Britain's milder winters.
Unravel the mysteries of bird migration

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Piecing together clues from the natural and man-made landscape, Alan looks at the dramatic changes that have affected the British Isles from the Stone Age to the Industrial Revolution. The entire population of Britain could fit into a football stadium 8000 years ago. Today we probably see more people on the way to work than one of our ancestors would have seen in a lifetime. The clearing of forests for agriculture and the introduction of new species changed the landscape for ever.
The way of life of many animals was shaped by the industrial age. The canal network not only provided transport for bulk goods, it was also a fantastic new habitat. In Wales slate quarries, with their cliff-like ledges, provided a new home for coastal birds and falcons. London in the 1800s was the largest city in the world. Coal fires choked the city and the Victorians planted large numbers of London plane trees. They became the capital's lungs, changing the tree-scape of cities forever.

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Alan tracks down red squirrels in Lancashire, a rare butterfly on the Norfolk Broads and plays with high explosives on the moorlands of Northumberland to find out just how Britain's flora and fauna has adapted to the amazing transformations that have taken place over the last century. Two world wars, a rising population and huge technological developments have had a significant impact on man's relationship with the landscape.
Wildfacts - the swallowtail butterfly
Garden wildlife - what you can do to make space for nature
A Mediterranean climate, an eternal winter or a devastating flood, Alan examines the options for the future of Britain. In the Lake District, Alan spots Wordsworth's famous daffodils blooming a month early. Leaves are falling later and migrating birds arrive earlier. But these changing temperatures are nothing new.
Global warming? Forget it, we could be heading for a big chill

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 TV Programmes

British Isles: A Natural History homepage

 TV programmes - BBC One

3 billion years in the making
Programme 1

Dinosaurs, Deserts and Volcanoes
Programme 2

Ice Age
Programme 3

Islands Apart
Programme 4

Taming the Wild
Programme 5

Programme 6

Modern Times
Programme 7

Our Future
Programme 8

 Elsewhere on

Scientists - how do they know that?
Discover how the work of scientists can shed a whole new light on the world around us.

The Great Snail Hunt
Join the survey - snails give us insights into geology, climate change and pollution levels in Britain.

Essential guide to rocks
Fieldtrips and experiments to help discover Britain's rocky past.

Radio 4 explores the physical and spiritual pleasures of walking.

Video Nation
People around the British Isles talk about their experiences of nature.

 Elsewhere on the web

National Trails
Long distance footpaths in England and Wales.

Conservation walks and rides
Walks, rides and areas of open access provided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

UK Phenology Network
Nature's calendar – track changes in the seasons using online observations.

British Geological Survey
The world's oldest geological survey and the UK's national centre for earth science information.

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