Last Watched

"War"  Sort by

The Mastery of Flight

   1998    Nature
The second programme deals with the mechanics of flight. Getting into the air is by far the most exhausting of a bird's activities, and Sir Attenborough observes shearwaters in Japan that have taken to climbing trees to give them a good jumping-off point. The albatross is so large that it can only launch itself after a run-up to create a flow of air over its wings. A combination of aerodynamics and upward air currents (or thermals), together with the act of flapping or gliding is what keeps a bird aloft. Landing requires less energy but a greater degree of skill, particularly for a big bird, such as a swan. Weight is kept to a minimum by having a beak made of keratin instead of bone, a light frame, and a coat of feathers, which is maintained fastidiously. The peregrine falcon holds the record for being fastest in the air, diving at speeds of over 300 km/h. Conversely, the barn owl owes its predatory success to flying slowly, while the kestrel spots its quarry by hovering. However, the true specialists in this regard are the hummingbirds, whose wings beat at the rate of 25 times a second. The habits of migratory birds are explored. After stocking up with food during the brief summer of the north, such species will set off on huge journeys southwards. Some, such as snow geese, travel continuously, using both the stars and the sun for navigation. They are contrasted with hawks and vultures, which glide overland on warm air, and therefore have to stop overnight.
Series: The Life of Birds

The Insatiable Appetite

   1998    Nature
The next instalment focuses on dietary needs and how different species have evolved beaks to suit their individual requirements. The latter come in a multitude of forms. Blue tits and goldfinches have beaks akin to tweezers, with which to extract seeds, while the hawfinch's razor-like bill can deal with a cherry-stone. However, the crossbill is the only finch that can twist its mandibles in opposite directions. Jays store acorns for winter by burying them in the ground, whereas woodpeckers can keep up to 60,000 of them in one tree trunk. Sap is also desirable, and there are a variety of methods used to obtain it. The hoatzin is the only specialised leaf-eater, and accordingly has a digestive system more akin to that of cattle. Plants recruit birds to aid pollination, and offer nectar as a reward. Hummingbirds eat little else, and the sword-bill's beak is the longest of any bird in relation to its body. Insects are also highly prized, and Galapagos finches are shown to possess some ingenuity as they not only strip bark, but also use 'tools' to reach their prey. Crows are hailed as being among the most intelligent birds, and one is shown using a twig to spear a grub within a fallen log. The robin is an opportunist, and Sir Attenborough observes one seizing morsels as he digs a patch of earth. In South America, a cattle tyrant sits atop an obliging capybara and uses its vantage point to spot passing food that may be dislodged by its grazing partner.
Series: The Life of Birds

An Everyday Miracle

   1998    Medicine
This series, presented by Robert Winston, takes us on a journey from birth to death using time-lapse photography, computer graphics and various state-of-the-art imaging techniques to explore every aspect, every nook and crevice of the human body in its various stages of growth, maturity and eventual decay. Though heart-warming in that it shows the commonality of human experience, The Human Body is also a potentially depressing reminder of our frail physicality and mortality." In this episode, follow Jeff and Phillippa from conception to the birth of their first child Bob in An Everyday Miracle. Learn why conception is the most dangerous part of your life, and the struggles that you must go through to even reach the first step. The couple openly discuss their concerns and joy throughout their entire pregnancy and this episode in particular would be well worth viewing by those who are expecting their first child. From experience, this tasteful and informative section captures aspects of pregnancy that the hospital-run Maternity Classes don't explain as well. You even get to see the birth of their child which makes for a great lead into the next section. And in case you were wondering, every day there are around 100 million acts of sexual intercourse taking place in the world resulting in around 910,000 conceptions.
Series: The Human Body

Audrey Hepburn: The Fairest Lady

   1997    Art
Audrey Hepburn was a film and fashion icon of the twentieth century and one of the most beloved actresses of all time. She enchanted the world with elegance and innocent charm, and portrayed some of the most memorable characters in film. Although she was one of the few actresses to win an Emmy, Tony, Grammy, and Academy Award, Audrey was modest about her talents, often claiming she had no acting technique. She redefined glamour with elfin features and a waif-like figure that inspired timeless designs by Hubert de Givenchy.Raised in the Netherlands during World War II, Audrey never forgot her own struggles during the German occupation and dedicated her later years to helping needy children around the world, becoming an International Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and traveling around the world to provide aid. Audrey Hepburn is remembered as a natural talent, a timeless beauty and a great humanitarian.

Lord of Asia

   1997    History
Michael crosses Iran towards the Caspian Sea. He meets nomads who tell of Alexander's tryst with an Amazon queen, and the living descendants of Alexander's Persian enemies, who have their own tales of `Alexander the Accursed'.
Series: In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great
How Art Made the World
How Art Made the World

   2006    Art
The Universe
The Universe

   2010    Science
Chemistry
Chemistry

   2010    Science
Inner Worlds Outer Worlds
Inner Worlds Outer Worlds

   2012    Culture
The Story of Maths
The Story of Maths

   2008    Science
Conquest of the Skies
Conquest of the Skies

   2015    Nature