Latest Documentaries

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How Can We All Win?

Dr Hannah Fry explores the limits of our control, from dangerous miscalculations to creating and spotting fake videos, and questions how far we should be going with our mathematical skills. A gravity-defying BMX stunt kick-starts the debate around trusting the numbers, and launches us into an investigation of just how sure we can be about anything in our messy world. Together with maths comedian Matt Parker, Hannah uses flaming balloons and gigantic slices of melting cheese to get to the bottom of the guesswork used in real world calculations. A visiting drone zips through the corridors of the historic Royal Institution building, introducing the mother of all drones, a human-sized machine that delivers urgent parcels, and we welcome the team designing driverless helicopters and buying up London rooftops to prepare for the future. But these physical challenges are just the beginning of the debate on handing control over to machines. Hannah explores whether human jurors or robots make fairer decisions, and welcomes Atima Lui, who is on a mission to design the most unbiased facial detection software in the world, which will say goodbye to the 'fast track for white people' at automatic passport gates. Hannah dives into the issues around privacy in our modern world, with Glow Up make-up star Tiffany Hunt making a member of the audience invisible to CCTV, while Hannah explores the truth behind cookies and anonymity online. Finally, she delves into the world of fake news, to separate the truth from the lies. Leading deep fake creators team up with the Christmas Lectures to create a television first – a custom-made deep fake video of a child in the audience, highlighting our ability to use maths to warp reality however we please. Hannah ultimately explores who the real winners are, in an escalating arms race of mathematical tricks.

3/3Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: Secrets and Lies - The Hidden Power of Maths • 2019 • Math

How to Bend the Rules

Dr Hannah Fry reveals how data-gobbling algorithms have taken over our lives and now control almost everything we do, without us being aware of it. Pitching the UK speed-cubing champion against a machine in the opening seconds of the lecture, Hannah sets the pace for a rapid voyage through this superhuman world. Hannah teams up with famed YouTuber Tom Scott to create a viral video and decipher YouTube's secret algorithm, comes face to face with four-legged guests to put animal image recognition machines to the test, and reveals how the NHS is matching organ donors in chains across the country to save hundreds of lives. But the breakthroughs are not restricted to the real world. Bafta award-winning special guests reveal the secrets of CGI in films such as The Avengers and Lord of the Rings, and supersized laser illusions bring the Royal Institution to life. An unexpected feathery guest opens our eyes to a new type of coding, where computers can be trained like animals using tasty rewards, with maths comedian Matt Parker and computing expert Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon bringing the topic to life. Finally, Hannah reveals how we've all been training up Google's AI in this way for years without realising it, and discovers how Google Health is using big data to give doctors a helping hand. The power of algorithms is undeniable. Hannah ultimately discovers how we can bend the world to our will and make anything possible, with a bit of mathematical thinking.

2/3Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: Secrets and Lies - The Hidden Power of Maths • 2019 • Math

How to Get Lucky

Kicking off the lectures with a mind-boggling stunt to prove how counterintuitive our gut instincts can be, Hannah launches into a lecture full of daring live experiments and surprising discoveries. From predicting the chance of snow at Christmas to dodging erupting volcanoes with Prof Chris Jackson, Hannah explores whether we really can predict the future. She meets the maths gurus behind Liverpool Football Club's winning streak to spill the beans on how analysing the numbers can give a team an edge in the Premier League, and reveals the tricks to perfecting your Christmas cracker pull to win the prize every time. Hannah also gathers tips from mind-performance coach Dr Michael Gervais, the 'secret weapon' crafting Olympic athletes' lucky mindsets, and the man responsible for Felix Baumgartner's jump from space, when 'first time lucky' meant life or death. Enrolling the help of maths comedian Matt Parker for the pinnacles of the lecture, the duo find order in unruly crowds, and whittle the audience down to the luckiest person in a series of challenges, before finally putting them to the test to prove whether they truly are one in a million. Using a host of maths tricks - from probability to game theory - Hannah discovers if we can in fact make our own luck, and ultimately shares the secrets to help us all lead luckier lives.

1/3Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: Secrets and Lies - The Hidden Power of Maths • 2019 • Math

Europe's Greenest Town?

How has a small place in northern Finland managed to become Europe's most eco-friendly town? Ii has slashed its CO2 emissions by 80% and is producing 10 times more renewable energy than it consumes. This community project could be an inspiration for us all - but such rapid change is not without opposition.

Our World • 2019 • Environment

The Last Igloo

Documentary that follows a lone Inuit as he hunts, fishes and constructs an igloo. It tells the story of skills that are disappearing and of how climate change is affecting the lives of Greenland's indigenous people. With its focus on the ingenious craft of igloo building before it becomes too late to record it, this is a meditative and poetic sensory immersion in a landscape of ice and snow, an elegy to a world that is melting away.

2019 • People

Plant a Tree to Save the World

Chris Packham aims to raise enough money to plant 100,000 trees across Britain, by asking viewers to contribute to The Woodland Trust. Martin Hughes-Games, JB Gill and Clare Nasir also take a closer look at the science of trees, exploring how they can lower carbon emissions, fight flooding and reduce pollution.

2019 • Nature

Recommended Documentaries

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Game of Queens 1542- 1559

In the middle of the Renaissance, the son of Francis I shake up the foundations of Europe. Henry II, the King of , secures a claim to the Scottish crown by marrying young queen Mary Stuart to his son, the future Francis II, heir to the French throne.

S2E1The Real War of Thrones: The True History of Europe • 2018 • History

Colony

Watching the fascinating display of leafcutter ants at the Natural History Museum in London is one of my favourite ways to while away a few hours, but David Attenborough is operating on a much grander scale here in the last in the series. In Argentina he observes some cousins of the leafcutters who are part of a community so vast it spans an entire continent. It’s one of the mandible-dropping facts in a look at one of the key inventions of arthropods: colonies. From termites and honey bees to the leafcutters, it seems that if you want to get ahead, you move to the big city.

6Micro Monsters with David Attenborough • 2013 • Nature

The Invention of Cooking

Humans have depended on fire for millennia, but do we fully understand the impact it has had on our diet? When our hunter-gatherer ancestors learned to harness this tool, it ignited a culinary and cerebral revolution believed to be one of the most important factors in our evolution.

1/5The History of Food • 2018 • History

Living Together

The fifth programme explores the alliances formed between the animal and plant worlds. It examines the ways in which plants live together and rely on each other. Whether living together in harmony, relying on each other for homes, protection or food, or living off each other, by strangling or otherwise destroying each other in a bid to survive.

5/6Private Life of Plants • 1995 • Nature

Prediction by the Numbers

Predictions underlie nearly every aspect of our lives, from sports, politics, and medical decisions to the morning commute. With the explosion of digital technology, the internet, and “big data,” the science of forecasting is flourishing. But why do some predictions succeed spectacularly while others fail abysmally? And how can we find meaningful patterns amidst chaos and uncertainty? From the glitz of casinos and TV game shows to the life-and-death stakes of storm forecasts and the flaws of opinion polls that can swing an election, “Prediction by the Numbers” explores stories of statistics in action. Yet advances in machine learning and big data models that increasingly rule our lives are also posing big, disturbing questions. How much should we trust predictions made by algorithms when we don’t understand how they arrive at them? And how far ahead can we really forecast?

NOVA PBS • 2018 • Math

The Immortals

The Ship of the Imagination travels across the cosmos to discover the possibility of beings that live forever and explain why other civilizations perish. Then, visit the Cosmic Calendar of the Future and contemplate what lies ahead with a hopeful vision.

S1E11Cosmos: A Spacetime OdysseyAstronomy

Music Documentaries

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Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Kurt Cobain, legendary lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of Nirvana, “the flagship band of Generation X,” remains an object of reverence and fascination for music fans around the world. His story is told for the first time in KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK

2015 • Music

Be My Baby

The series concludes with Be My Baby, which reflects on the evolution of rock 'n' roll music and its impact in America, including Buddy Holly's tragic death in a plane crash in 1959 at the age of 22, the game-changing arrival of The Beatles in America in 1964, and everything in between. Philadelphia produced 'teen idols' like Fabian who were beamed around the country by the daily TV show Bandstand. Rock 'n' roll even fuelled the Motown sound in Detroit and soundtracked the sunshiny west coast dream from guitar instrumental groups like The Ventures to LA's emerging Beach Boys. In the early 60s, rock 'n' roll was birthing increasingly polished pop sounds across the States, but American teens seemed to have settled back into sensible young adulthood. Enter the long-haired boys from Liverpool, Newcastle and London.

3/3Rock and Roll America • 2015 • Music

Queen: Rock the World

Behind-the-scenes archive documentary following Queen's Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon as they record their sixth album News of the World and embark on a groundbreaking tour of North America. By 1977, Queen had become a major headlining act in the UK, releasing chart-topping albums and singles as well as playing sell-out concerts in all the country's major venues. However, they were facing an increasingly hostile music press, who had a new favourite in punk and had turned against the elaborate, multi-layered recording techniques that had become the hallmark of the band's previous albums. But an unfazed Queen had their sights set on greater things. As the band announced plans to record their next album, the expectation was it would be another production extravaganza, but Freddie, Brian, Roger and John already had other ideas. News of the World showcased them at their most raw, simple and best, returning to their roots as a live act. With a self-imposed limit on studio time and produced entirely on their own for the first time, this stripped-back album took the fans and press by surprise and demonstrated Queen's ability to transcend fashions. It was to prove a seminal moment in the band's history. At the time, BBC music presenter Bob Harris was given exclusive and extensive access to the band to cover this period. Conducting insightful interviews with all four band members as well as filming them at work in the studio as they were planning and rehearsing their forthcoming North American tour, and then following them as they performed across the US, Bob captured a band attempting to replicate their huge domestic success on the global stage. Curiously, the documentary he set out to make was never completed, and the footage lay unused in the archive until now. To mark the 40th anniversary of the release of the News of the World album, the footage has now been carefully restored and revisited to compile this hour-long portrait of a group setting out to take the next step on their remarkable journey to becoming one of the biggest bands on the planet. Armed with an array of new songs, including the monster hits We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions, Queen dazzled the American audience and laid the foundations of a relationship that endures to this very day. Coming full circle, this film is bookended by footage shot in the summer of 2017 as Brian May and Roger Taylor took Queen back to the US with Adam Lambert as lead singer. Revisiting many of the cities they had performed in 40 years previously and including many of the songs from that 1977 album, they prove that despite the tragic loss of Freddie Mercury over 25 years ago, Queen can still rock the world.

2017 • Music

On Drums... Stewart Copeland!

Stewart Copeland explores the drums as the founding instrument of popular modern music. Beats that travelled from Africa via New Orleans and across the world are the consistent force behind musical evolution. Stewart plays with some of the most inspiring drummers of the last 50 years, including John Densmore of The Doors, Chad Smith of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Prince’s musical director Sheila E, New Order’s Stephen Morris and Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins. He goes dancing in New Orleans, builds his own bass drum pedal and checks out hot new bands on Santa Monica beach.

1/3Guitar, Drum and Bass • 2019 • Music

The Distortion of Sound

The Distortion of Sound is a documentary about the decline of sound quality and how technology has changed the way we listen to music. It will open your ears and inspire you to reach for richer, more soul-stirring musical experiences.

Music

Age of Elegance and Sensibility

The composer examines the age of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Chopin. This period from 1750 to 1850 saw composers going from being paid, liveried servants of princes and archbishops to working as freelancers required to appeal to a new, middle-class audience. The era also saw tremendous social upheaval, including the American, French and Industrial revolutions, but until around the turn of the 19th century, the music that was being written bore little relevance to the tumultuous changes in society.

3/6Howard Goodall's Story of Music • 2013 • Music

Astronomy Documentaries

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Hunt for the Missing Black Holes

New discoveries might finally reveal how supermassive black holes are made, and using the latest technology, experts are on the verge of understanding how these monsters grow and how they affect life on our planet.

Space's Deepest Secrets • 2019 • Astronomy

Jupiter: King of the Planets

Astronaut Mike Massimino leads a journey to Jupiter where he investigates the planet's deepest mysteries and tries to discover if its origins make it the sun's secret twin.

S1E1The Planets (US) • 2017 • Astronomy

Apollo's Daring Mission

Apollo astronauts and engineers tell the inside story of how the first mission to the moon, Apollo 8, pioneered groundbreaking technologies that would pave the way to land a man on the moon and win the space race.

NOVA PBS • 2018 • Astronomy

Plasma: Reinventing Space Flight

Follow Dr. Ben Longmier and his team into the rugged Alaskan wilderness on a quest to build a whole new type of rocket engine. Their goal is to test sensitive components by launching them into radiation-filled environments of space aboard helium balloons. Their goal is to revolutionize space travel and exploration by harnessing the energy contained in the dynamic fourth state of matter: plasma.

Astronomy

Deadly Meteors

Impacts from space have created our planet and just about everything in it. Like celestial supply ships, they brought in water, metal, and maybe even life. They made our moon and sculpted the geography of our planet.

12/17Big History • 2013 • Astronomy

Mars: The Definitive Guide

Astronaut Mike Massimino reveals the answers to some of the greatest mysteries on the Red Planet. Using the most detailed survey of Mars ever created, he discovers the dark history of our closest neighbor.

S1E2The Planets (US) • 2017 • Astronomy

Randoms! Documentaries

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What is DNA and How Does it Work?

Issues of genetics and DNA are constantly cropping up in the news from food production and health, to legal cases and ethics. We hear about DNA in movies like Jurassic Park and X-men, we learn bits and pieces about it from TV shows like Dexter and and CSI, but what exactly is DNA, and how does it work?

Stated ClearlyNature

Why Isn't "Zero G" the Same as "Zero Gravity"?

This Quick Question explains the difference between gravity and g-force, and how you can experience zero-g in space even when it’s not zero gravity!

Physics

The Brain

James May cranks open your cranium to reveal what's really taking place inside your head.

S2E2James May's Things You Need to Know • 2012 • Brain

Into the Brain

Just over 100 years ago, cutting into the brain was a terrifying prospect for both patient and surgeon. They could expect the result to be the surgeon bloodied and defeated, and the patient dead. From freak accidents involving crowbars through the skull to notorious lobotomies with icepicks, this programme reveals how, through mishap and misadventure, brain surgery has become the life-saving discipline it is today.

1Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery • 2009 • Astronomy

Part 2

It is time to see if personalised dieting will work in normal life. The volunteers have been given one of three diets to follow - based on their genes, their hormones and their psychology. But now they are back at home, trying to stick to their personalised diets with all the stresses and temptations of real life. Dr Chris van Tulleken and Professor Tanya Byron discover how our genetic makeup can make temptation difficult to resist, how understanding the brain reveals what makes us comfort eat and what science can tell us about why we make disastrous food choices.

2/3What's the Right Diet for YouHealth

Episode 1

Starting with some of the most infamous faces of the twentieth century, Marilyn Monroe features alongside Margaret Thatcher and more, as we countdown from 101 to 89 in what is sure to be a controversial start to the series.

1/8The 101 People who Made the 20th Century • 2016 • People