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Life Beyond the Edge

Episode 2 of 6

Coast ventures to the farthest-flung reaches of the British Isles. Nick Crane joins the locals on the Isles of Scilly as they try to wade from island to island.

Coast ventures to the farthest-flung reaches of the British Isles to discover the most extreme locations, lifestyles and challenges of 'Life Beyond the Edge'.

Nick Crane explores the exotic Isles of Scilly - 28 miles beyond Land's End, these are England's final full stop. On magical isles with a Caribbean feel, Nick joins the locals to attempt one of the most bizarre walks in Britain, as they try to wade on foot through the surging seas from island to island. It's a challenge only possible at exceptionally low tide, yet still the seawater threatens to swamp them.

To discover what life is like on this extreme edge, Nick visits the last house on the very tip of the most westerly inhabited isle. He pushes beyond the edges of Britain's history too, walking back in time to the Bronze Age, as the seabed reveals evidence of an ancient settlement, long submerged beneath the waves. Is this the site of the legendary 'Lost Kingdom of Lyonesse', said to be the last resting place of King Arthur?

On precipitous slopes, beyond the edge of Devon, Coast newcomer and social historian Ruth Goodman follows in the footsteps of the remarkable Branscombe cliff farmers, who for generations followed a hardy way of life that's now gone with the sea breeze. Ruth relives a day in the ceaseless toil of the last man left on these perilous cliffs, the aptly named 'Cliffie' Gosling, who together with his trusty donkeys made the steep ascent between land and sea daily until the 1960s.

Mark Horton explores the cutting edge of Victorian information technology in a celebration of one of Britain's most audacious engineering achievements. The titanic struggle to create the transatlantic telegraph service between Britain and America would eventually herald the birth of global communications, but how did Brunel's mighty ship, the Great Eastern, manage to lay a cable 2,000 miles along the seabed to transmit and receive tiny electric signals between continents? Mark and the team rebuild the ingenious invention which, in 1865, finally made the transatlantic cable a glorious reality after ten years of tragic failure.

And, on the dramatic rocky edge of St David's Head in south Wales, Hermione Cockburn explores the very limits of life on the planet to reveal the astonishing fossil of a large sea creature - one which lived 300 million years before the dinosaurs. This discovery helped establish that Britain and America were once part of the same super-continent, and that the Earth is old enough for Darwin's theory of evolution - once held to be on the margins of science - to become central to our understanding of who we are.

1 hour

Last on

Wed 7 Feb 2018 13:00

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Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes


Role Contributor
Presenter Nicholas Crane
Presenter Hermione Cockburn
Presenter Ruth Goodman
Presenter Mark Horton
Presenter Andy Torbet
Series Editor Steve Evanson
Executive Producer William Lyons


  • Sun 20 May 2012 21:00
  • Sun 20 May 2012 22:00
  • Tue 22 May 2012 23:30
  • Tue 17 Jul 2012 01:25
  • Sat 12 Jan 2013 15:00
  • Sat 1 Nov 2014 16:30
  • Sun 14 Jun 2015 15:45
  • Sun 22 Jan 2017 16:00
  • Wed 24 May 2017 07:00
  • Wed 7 Feb 2018 13:00

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