Self-Access Centre - English - TV Documentaries

The Beauty of Maps - Episode 01: Medieval Maps - Mapping the Medieval Mind

Documentary series charting the visual appeal and historical meaning of maps. The Hereford Mappa Mundi is the largest intact Medieval wall map in the world and its ambition is breathtaking - to picture all of human knowledge in a single image. The work of a team of artists, the world it portrays is overflowing with life, featuring Classical and Biblical history, contemporary buildings and events, animals and plants from across the globe, and the infamous 'monstrous races' which were believed to inhabit the remotest corners of the Earth. The Mappa Mundi, meaning 'cloth of the world', has spent most of its long life at Hereford Cathedral, rarely emerging from behind its glass case. The programme represents a rare opportunity to get close to the map and explore its detail, giving a unique insight into the Medieval mind. This is also the first programme to show the map in its original glory, revealing the results of a remarkable year-long project by the Folio Society to restore it using the latest digital technology. The map has a chequered history. Since its glory days in the 1300s it has languished forgotten in storerooms, been dismissed as a curious 'monstrosity', and controversially almost sold. Only in the last 20 years have scholars and artists realised its true depth and meaning, with the map exerting an extraordinary power over those who come into contact with it. The programme meets some of these individuals, from scholars and map lovers to Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry, whose own work, the Map of Nowhere, is inspired by the Mappa Mundi.

The Beauty of Maps - Episode 02: City Maps - Order out of Chaos

The British Library is home to a staggering 4.5 million maps, most of which remain hidden away in its colossal basement, and the programme delves behind the scenes to explore some amazing treasures in more detail. This is the story of three maps, three 'visions' of London over three centuries; visions of beauty that celebrate but also distort the truth. It's the story of how urban maps try to impose order on chaos. On Sunday 2 September 1660, the Great Fire of London began reducing most of the city to ashes, and among the huge losses were many maps of the city itself. The Morgan Map of 1682 was the first to show the whole of the City of London after the fire. Consisting of sixteen separate sheets, measuring eight feet by five feet, it took six years to complete. Morgan's beautiful map symbolised the hoped-for ideal city. In 1746 John Rocque produced what was at the time the most detailed map ever made of London. Like Morgan's, Rocque's map is all neo-Classical beauty and clinical precision, but the London it represented had become the opposite. In engravings of the time, such as Night, the artist William Hogarth shows a city boiling with vice and corruption. Stephen Walter's contemporary image, The Island, plays with notions of cartographic order and respectability. His extraordinary London map looks at first glance to be just as precise and ordered as his hero Rocque's but, looking closer, it includes 21st-century markings, such as 'favourite kebab vans' and sites of 'personal heartbreak'.

The Beauty of Maps - Episode 03: Atlas Maps - Thinking Big

The Dutch Golden Age saw map-making reach a fever pitch of creative and commercial ambition. This was the era of the first ever atlases - elaborate, lavish and beautiful. This was the great age of discovery and marked an unprecedented opportunity for mapmakers, who sought to record and categorise the newly acquired knowledge of the world. Rising above the many mapmakers in this period was Gerard Mercator, inventor of the Mercator projection, who changed mapmaking forever when he published his collection of world maps in 1598 and coined the term 'atlas'. The programme looks at some of the largest and most elaborate maps ever produced, from the vast maps on the floor of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, to the 24-volume atlas covering just the Netherlands, to the largest atlas in the world, The Klencke Atlas. It was made for Charles II to mark his restoration in 1660. But whilst being one of the British Library's most important items, it is also one of its most fragile, so hardly ever opened. This is a unique opportunity to see inside this enormous and lavish work, and see the world through the eyes of a king.

The Beauty of Maps - Episode 04: Cartoon Maps - Politics and Satire

The series concludes by delving into the world of satirical maps. How did maps take on a new form, not as geographical tools, but as devices for humour, satire or storytelling? Graphic artist Fred Rose perfectly captured the public mood in 1880 with his general election maps featuring Gladstone and Disraeli, using the maps to comment upon crucial election issues still familiar to us today. Technology was on the satirist's side, with the advent of high-speed printing allowing for larger runs at lower cost. In 1877, when Rose produced his Serio Comic Map of Europe at War, maps began to take on a new direction and form, reflecting a changing world. Rose's map exploited these possibilities to the full using a combination of creatures and human figures to represent each European nation. The personification of Russia as a grotesque-looking octopus, extending its tentacles around the surrounding nations, perfectly symbolised the threat the country posed to its neighbours.

The Blue Planet - 03 - Open Oceans

2007. An unfortunate shoal of sardines is first attacked by three-metre-long striped marlin with metre-long, needle-sharp javelins on their heads. The commotion attracts juvenile yellowfin tuna and then a 14-metre Sei whale scoops up the remains.

The Blue Planet - 04 - Frozen Seas

2007. In winter the temperature drops to below -50 degrees centigrade and in Antarctica most animals escape the weather. But emperor penguins stay put and huddle together, incubating their eggs and rearing their chicks in the worst weather on the planet. Weddell seals also remain, keeping their breathing holes open by scraping away the ice with their teeth.

The Blue Planet - 05 - Coral Seas

This next instalment is about coral reefs, which are so crowded that they play host to a perpetual battle for space, even among the coral itself. It starts life as a larva that becomes a polyp. Having multiplied, it hardens into a limestone skeleton and grows to form a reef. As the community flourishes, animals develop relationships with one another and such a place can feature a huge variety of ocean life.

The Blue Planet - 07 - Tidal Seas

2007. A huge tidal wave, sweeps 200 miles inland up the River Amazon. It's an event that only happens on key days each month, when the moon and sun combine their gravitational pull to maximum effect. The force of the wave shatters immense rainforest trees.

The British at Work - Episode 01: We Can Make It 1945-1964

Kirsty Young looks at British working lives since the Second World War. This programme combines the memories of ordinary working people with vivid archive from documentary, television and film to look at an era in which work was a great mass experience and work places were lively, welcoming communities. Kirsty hears from women who were moving into a male dominated workforce and sees how the optimistic dreams of the post-war years were undermined by poor management and bickering workers.

The British at Work - Episode 02: Them and Us 1964 -1980

n the second of this series on the history of work, Kirsty Young looks at the years in which the post-war baby boom generation joined the workforce, from the buoyant optimism of the 60s to the union versus management conflicts of the 70s. The programme combines first hand recollection from workers with colourful comedy, drama and documentary archive from the period. While work was often divided between them and us, it was also a time when managers were getting sharper, women were given more responsibility and lots of people were making real money.

The British at Work - Episode 03: To Have and Have Not, 1980-1995

Kirsty Young looks at work in the 80s and 90s, an era of startling contrasts where our jobs could enrich and exhilarate or humble and humiliate. Kirsty meets people who were flush with entrepreneurial spirit, building careers and starting their own businesses, but also those who fell out of work during the collapse of traditional heavy industry. Dipping into the rich and humorous archive of the time, Kirsty also sees how the jobs themselves were changing, the places we worked in were shinier and how the time we spent there was getting longer and longer.

The British at Work - The Age of Uncertainty: 1995 - Now

In the final episode of the series, Kirsty Young looks at how work has changed from the late 90s to the present. Using comedy, drama and archive from the period, she examines how work has crept into the very centre of our lives. Kirsty confronts her own troubles with her work/life balance and hears from ordinary people trying to cope with the relentless demands of 21st-century work. She also explores the curious and often hilarious attempts by managers to make us adopt corporate values by being not just our bosses but also our mates.

The Camera that Changed the World

BBC 4 ,
The Camera that Changed the World tells the story of the filmmakers and ingenious engineers who led this revolution by building the first hand-held cameras that followed real life as it happened.

The Cell - Episode 02: The Chemistry of Life

In a three-part series, Dr Adam Rutherford tells the extraordinary story of the scientific quest to discover the secrets of the cell and of life itself. Every living thing is made of cells, microscopic building blocks of almost unimaginable power and complexity. This episode explores how scientists delved ever deeper into the world of the cell, seeking to reveal the magic ingredient that can spark a bundle of chemicals into life. Their discoveries have brought us to the brink of being able to create life for ourselves.

The Cell - Episode 03: The Spark of Life

In a three-part series, Dr Adam Rutherford tells the extraordinary story of the scientific quest to discover the secrets of the cell and of life itself. Every living thing is made of cells, microscopic building blocks of almost unimaginable power and complexity. The final part reveals how our knowledge of cells has brought us to the brink of one of the most important moments in history. Scientists are close to repeating what has happened only once in four billion years - the creation of a new life form.

The Century that Wrote Itself - 01 : The Written Self

Adam Nicolson , , 2013
Author Adam Nicolson takes an intimate look at the 17th century's diarists and letter writers and how they produced the first great age of self-depiction.He traces our modern sense of self back to the time when ordinary people first took up the quill. At a time of great upheaval, writing was both a means of escape and of fighting for what you believed.

The Century that Wrote Itself - 02 : The Rewritten Universe

Adam Nicolson , , 2013
Adam Nicolson explores the 17th century's contradictory attitudes towards the nature of reality. While a puritan struggled to accept God's will, an early naturalist accepted nothing without testing it first. How did God work? How did the world work?

The Challenger

William Hurt ,
When the space shuttle Challenger blew up in 1986, it was the most shocking event in the history of American spaceflight. The deaths of seven astronauts, including the first teacher in space Christa McAuliffe, were watched live on television by millions of viewers. But what was more shocking was that the cause of the disaster might never be uncovered. The Challenger is the story of how Richard Feynman, one of America's most famous scientists, helped to discover the cause of a tragedy that stunned America.

The Children Who Built Victorian Britain

The catalyst to Britain's Industrial Revolution was the slave labour of orphans and destitute children. In this shocking and moving account of their exploitation and eventual emancipation, Professor Jane Humphries uses the actual words of these child workers.

The Chinese Are Coming Part 01

BBC 2 ,
Travelling across three continents, Justin Rowlatt investigates the spread of Chinese influence around the planet and asks what the world will be like if China overtakes America as the world's economic superpower. In the first of two films, he embarks on a journey across Southern Africa to chart the extraordinary phenomenon of Chinese migration to Africa, and the huge influence of China on the development of the continent. While many in the West view Africa as a land of poverty, to the Chinese it is seen as an almost limitless business opportunity. From Angola to Tanzania, Justin meets the fearless Chinese entrepreneurs who have travelled thousands of miles to set up businesses.