Main content
This programme will be available shortly after broadcast

Explorers: Conquest and Calamity

Episode 4 of 4

How our attitude towards the age of exploration has changed, from marvelling at incredible tales of adventure to the consequences of conquest.

For centuries the story of exploration has been packed with incredible tales of adventure, but the last fifty years has seen a dramatic shift in our attitude towards explorers.

To find out how television has reflected this, Prof Fara Dabhoiwala delves into the BBC television archives, revealing that the pace of this change was faster than you would imagine. In the 1960s the BBC was still making programmes showing Christopher Columbus as an uncomplicated conquering hero. Barely a decade later, it made a documentary that delved into museum storerooms packed with artefacts brought back to Britain by Captain Cook, focusing on the perspective of the explored rather than the explorer.

As the story of exploration became as much about social calamity as conquest, television has been forced to find new ways to portray explorers. By the 21st century this included everything from focusing on adventurers like Ernest Shackleton, famous not for conquest but for saving the lives of his men, to using new technology to demystify exploration by making programmes from material shot by the explorers themselves.

59 minutes

On TV

Tuesday 22:00

More episodes

Next

You are at the last episode

See all episodes from A Timewatch Guide

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Faramerz Dabhoiwala
Participant Max Jones
Participant Sujit Sivasundaram
Participant Vanessa Collingridge
Participant Benedict Allen
Executive Producer Emma Parkins
Producer Chris Nikkel
Director Chris Nikkel
Writer Chris Nikkel
Production Company 360 Production

Broadcasts