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The Jungles

   2011    Culture
The rainforest is home to more species of plants and animals than any other habitat on the planet. But for humans, life there is not as easy as it looks. Life in the trees requires great skill, ingenuity and sheer bravery. The Matis of Brazil carve 4-metre-long blow-pipes to hunt monkeys - in near total silence. Deep in the Congo forests, Tete defies death by scaling a giant tree using nothing more than a liana vine, and he must then negotiate an angry swarm of bees - all to collect honey for his family. Three children from Venezuela's Piaroa tribe venture deep into the jungle to hunt tarantulas - to toast for lunch! In West Papua the Korowai tribe show-off their engineering skills by building a high-rise home 35 metres up in the tree tops. Most memorable of all, in Brazil we join a unique monitoring flight in search an un-contacted tribe...
Series: Human Planet

The Rivers

   2011    Culture
Rivers provide the essentials of life: fresh food and water. They often provide natural highways and enable us to live in just about every environment on Earth. But rivers can also flood, freeze or disappear altogether!Cities - Surviving the Urban Jungle Human Planet joins Sam Niang, a Laotian fisherman, as he walks a high wire strung above the raging Mekong River rapids on an extraordinary commute to work. There's also a look at the remarkable partnership between Samburu tribesmen and wild elephants in their search for water in the dried-out river beds of Northern Kenya. Plus, a father who must take his two children on a six-day trek down a frozen river - the most dangerous school run on Earth, and the ice dam busters of Ottowa with their dynamite solution to a city centre hold-up.

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

The Big Freeze

   1993    Nature
As almost all animal inhabitants of Antarctica are forced to migrate north, the sea underneath the frozen ice still provides a home to many specially adapted fish whose cells are protected from freezing through an 'antifreeze' liquid. Many of them feed on the faeces of other animals. The most notable larger animal that does not migrate north is perhaps the Weddell Seal, which can be found as close as 1300 kilometres to the pole. Groups of seals tear holes into the ice to dive for food and come up to breathe. The females come back to the ice to give birth. This episode also describes primitive plant life such as lichen, which can still be found on the continent in winter, even in the extremely dry and permanently frozen valleys conditions under which dead animals can lie frozen for many centuries without decomposing. It details the life of the Emperor Penguin, 'the only birds to lay their eggs directly on ice'. While other animals retreat, Emperors migrate not just to the ice, but into the Antarctic continent. The females lay eggs which are incubated by the males under the harshest conditions on Earth (huddling closely together for warmth), while the females return to the sea.
Series: Life in the Freezer

Over the Rainbow

   2013    Culture
With optional Hebrew subtitles. Simon Schama's history of the Jewish experience plunges into the lost world of the shtetl, the Jewish towns and villages sewn across the hinterlands of Eastern Europe which became the seedbed of a uniquely Jewish culture. Shtetl culture would make its mark on the modern world, from the revolutionary politics of the Soviet Union to the mass culture of Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood. It was also the birthplaces of Hasidism, the most visible, iconic and, arguably, most misunderstood expression of Jewish faith and fervour. This chapter of the story travels from the forests of Lithuania, where Simon's own family logged wood and fought wolves, to the streets of the Lower East Side where the sons of shtetl immigrants wrote the American songbook. With grim inevitability, the story returns to Eastern Europe in 1940 - where the genocidal mechanisms of the 'final solution' were beginning to grind the shtetl world into dust and ash.
Series: The Story of the Jews
Planet Earth
Planet Earth

   2007    Nature
Rome
Rome

      History
Leaving Neverland
Leaving Neverland

   2019    Culture
Superstructures: Engineering Marvels
Superstructures: Engineering Marvels

   2019    Technology
Engineering the Future
Engineering the Future

   2020    Technology
Out of the Cradle
Out of the Cradle

   2019    History
Africa with David Attenborough
Africa with David Attenborough

   2013    Nature