That’s what I did this weekend! I broadened my mind!
Pfff…I can hear you say…and how did you do it?
Well…I got onto the BBC Iplayer website, went to factual, and scrolled down the list of factual programmes available, watching the ones that interested me. When I was younger I had quite a good level of general knowledge (or so I believe ;)). However, as I have grown older, and stopped reading factual books, and moved away from a more general schooling system where we were taught about everything, I find that I have started missing the edge when it comes to general knowledge and being able to contribute to certain discussions. I am thus glad to have the BBC Iplayer resource at my hands, so I can watch documentaries every so often.
Here is a short description of some of the ones I watched (I don’t remember them all, and seeing the whole list makes me realise I didn’t do much else!!!):
Geisha Girl: Documentary following 15-year-old Yukina as she leaves home and moves to Kyoto to embark on the arduous training needed to become a Geisha.
Horizon – What’s the Problem with Nudity?: What is wrong with nudity? Why are people embarrassed about their bodies? How and why did they get the way they are?
Horizon – Who Do You want your Child to be?: David Baddiel, father of two, sets out to answer one of the greatest questions a parent can ask: how best to educate your child.
Cleopatra – Portrait of a Killer: Cleopatra – the most famous woman in history. We know her as a great queen, a beautiful lover and a political schemer. For 2,000 years almost all evidence of her has disappeared – until now. In one of the world’s most exciting finds, archaeologists believe they have discovered the skeleton of her sister, murdered by Cleopatra and Mark Antony.
Darwin’s Struggle – The Evolution of the Origin of Species: Documentary telling the little-known story of how Darwin came to write his great masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, a book which explains the wonderful variety of the natural world as emerging out of death and the struggle of life. In the twenty years he took to develop a brilliant idea into a revolutionary book, Darwin went through a personal struggle every bit as turbulent as that of the natural world he observed. Fortunately, he left us an extraordinary record of his brilliant insights, observations of nature, and touching expressions of love and affection for those around him. He also wrote frank accounts of family tragedies, physical illnesses and moments of self-doubt, as he laboured towards publication of the book that would change the way we see the world. The story is told with the benefit of Darwin’s secret notes and correspondence, enhanced by natural history filming, powerful imagery from the time and contributions from leading contemporary biographers and scientists.(R)
A couple of Freaky Eaters episodes: series that tries to help people with poor diets.
18 Pregnant School Girls: Documentary looking at events in Gloucester, Massachusetts, when an unusually large number of teenage girls turned up for pregnancy tests at the clinic of a school. Within hours the news of an alleged ‘pregnancy pact’ had travelled round the world, appearing in newspapers, TV bulletins and chat shows. Town officials denied the rumours, but was there any truth in them?
Oil Spill – The Exxon Valdez Disaster: Just after midnight on Good Friday 1989, the giant supertanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound to create one of the biggest man-made ecological disasters of the 20th century. Eleven million gallons of crude oil gushed from the stricken tanker into the pristine waters of the Sound, killing whales, millions of fish and birds, and thousands of sea otters. The spill had a catastrophic effect on local communities, wiping out their herring fishery and severely depleting the Alaskan salmon industry for years to come. Twenty years on, this programme retraces the catalogue of errors that led to the disaster and investigates the legacy of the spill and the lasting environmental damage to Prince William Sound, featuring interviews with crew members aboard the supertanker on the fateful night, with the Exxon executives and Alaskan politicians in the eye of the storm and with the local fishermen and activists who had prophetically warned of disaster and now lead the fight for justice.
Top Dogs – Adventures in War, Sea and Ice – 1. Afghanistan: A unique, behind-the-scenes insight into the process of overseas news reporting, as seen through the eyes of ‘top dogs’. Three iconic adventurers – newsman John Simpson, polar explorer Ranulph Fiennes and solo yachtsman Robin Knox-Johnston – go on a news-gathering trip to war-torn Afghanistan. Simpson has to ensure the other two men are adequately trained and prepared for their foray into the world of the foreign correspondent. On the ground in Afghanistan, the three men aim to find out why, after many years of Western occupation, the security situation is still deteriorating. At great personal risk, they journey overland from Kabul to the treacherous border with Pakistan. Braving hostile crowds, heavily mined roads and the ever-present threat of suicide-bombers, they eventually file a live report from one of Afghanistan’s most notorious hotspots.
Natalie Cassidy’s Real Britain: Natalie Cassidy presents a series of films about young Britons inspired by subjects close to her own heart. Here, she explores British traditions and finds out how the other half lives when she meets the Hon Alexander Nall-Cain, a club promoter at one of the princes’ favourite watering holes. She also introduces Jack and Sarah Harris, who are determined to carry on their own family tradition, as fifth-generation undertakers.