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Colours of Life

The raw, early Earth had plenty of colour, but that canvas was about to be painted with a vast new palette - and the source of those colours was life.

We live in a world ablaze with colour. Rainbows and rainforests, oceans and humanity, earth is the most colourful place we know of. But the colours we see are far more complex and fascinating than they appear. In this series, Dr Helen Czerski uncovers what colour is, how it works, and how it has written the story of our planet - from the colours that transformed a dull ball of rock into a vivid jewel to the colours that life has used to survive and thrive. But the story doesn't end there - there are also the colours that we can't see, the ones that lie beyond the rainbow. Each one has a fascinating story to tell.

The raw, early Earth had plenty of colour, but that was nothing compared with what was going to come next. That canvas was about to be painted with a vast new palette - and the source of those colours was life. Green is the colour of the natural world and yet it's the one colour that plants have evolved not to use.

The huge diversity of human skin tones tells the story of how humanity spread and ultimately conquered the planet. But the true masters of colour turn out to be some of the smallest and most elusive. Helen travels to the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee during the one week in the year when fireflies light up the night sky with their colourful mating display. And she reveals the marine animals that hide from the world by changing the colour of their skin.

1 hour

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Helen Czerski
Executive Producer Jacqueline Smith
Series Producer Graeme Thomson
Producer Emma Oastler
Director Emma Oastler

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Prism Break

Prism Break

Uncover the unseen world of colour in this interactive video