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The Riddle of the Tides

Episode 5 of 6

The tidal ebb and flow of the seas surrounding Britain at their most extreme, when boatmen are pushed to their limit and hidden secrets emerge.

A journey around Britain to experience our surrounding seas' tidal ebb and flow at their most extreme.

Nick Crane confronts the terrifying power of the tides head-on as he paddles for dear life in a kayak to conquer the fearsome, tidal rapids that swirl off the island of Anglesey. Then in Liverpool, he discovers a remarkable but forgotten machine used to predict the tides for the D-Day landings. Developed over 100 years ago, this massive mechanical computer is capable of calculating sea levels anywhere in the world many years in advance and with incredible precision. As it is painstakingly pieced back together, Nick meets one of the women chosen to operate it so many years ago.

Miranda Krestovnikoff ventures to Jersey for an expedition to the Seymour Tower, a spectacular fortress that is transformed daily into an island outpost at high tide. Miranda stays overnight in the Tower to await an exceptionally low 'Spring Tide', when exotic sea creatures might be revealed. In Scarborough, Tessa Dunlop challenges both changing times and the tide of fashion. She's putting bathing suits to the test on the beach, from a Victorian lady's cotton cover-up to a Swinging Sixties little nylon one-piece, as she explores the ebb and flow of stylish swimwear over a century of textile innovation.

Mark Horton heads to Poppit Sands in Wales, where at very low tide the faint outline of a huge stone structure mysteriously appears beneath the waves. Mark explores the remains of this massive medieval fish trap, which was built more than 900 years ago but lost as sea levels rose and only recently re-discovered. Yet who was so famished for fish that they constructed this elaborate, sub-sea, stone structure to harvest the bounty of the tides?

58 minutes

Music Played

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

  • 00:04

    Hans Zimmer

    Pirates of Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl

    Conductor: Nic Raine. Performer: City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • 00:09

    Katy Perry


  • 00:10

    The Kooks

    Sofa Song

  • 00:11

    Noah and the Whale

    Wild Thing

  • 00:13

    Snow Patrol


  • 00:31


    Space Moth

  • 00:46


    Kingdom of Rust

  • 00:49

    Ólafur Arnalds

    Haegt, Kemur Ljosio


Role Contributor
Presenter Nicholas Crane
Presenter Tessa Dunlop
Presenter Mark Horton
Presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff
Series Editor Steve Evanson
Executive Producer William Lyons


  • Sun 10 Jun 2012 21:00
  • Tue 12 Jun 2012 23:30
  • Mon 30 Jul 2012 19:00
  • Tue 14 Aug 2012 03:45
  • Fri 14 Sep 2012 00:00
  • Mon 24 Sep 2012 00:30
  • Tue 26 Nov 2013 13:00
  • Tue 26 Nov 2013 13:50
  • Thu 8 Feb 2018 13:00
  • Wed 8 Jan 2020 13:00

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