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Darwin's Brave New World

Darwin's Brave New World is the story of how four young voyagers to the Southern Hemisphere - Charles Darwin, Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Russel Wallace - revolutionized science and gave birth to an extraordinary theory about the evolution of life on earth. Darwin's voyage to the Southern Hemisphere in the 1830s changed him from a directionless rich kid bound for a career in the Church, into one of the most incendiary thinkers of our age. This five-year voyage stunned and stimulated the young Darwin; the biodiversity, the exoticism, even the brutality, of the Southern Hemisphere, was in staggering comparison to the England he had just left - and it laid the foundations of his very 'dangerous idea': evolution by means of natural selection.

This series also explodes some myths. Received wisdom has it that Darwin had his 'eureka' moment on the Galapagos Islands; nothing could be further from the truth. Some of his greatest insights into evolution and natural selection came during the final and often-ignored leg of his voyage to New Zealand, Australia and the Cocos-Keeling Islands. Back in England, Darwin turned his back on scientific orthodoxy to secretively work on his explosive theory. During this period, he destroyed his health, lost his faith and took himself to the brink of social ruin. His marriage to his devout cousin, Emma, was central to his life but also brought Darwin's struggle with his faith into painful focus.

What emerges from this series is a portrait of Darwin as an ambitious and flawed man: one moment paranoid, bloody-minded and coolly manipulative; the next, courageous, compassionate and devoted. The drama features the people and the politics orbiting around Darwin as he moved cautiously towards publication of his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species. This series coincides with the 150th anniversary of its publication. The southern voyage was a transformative experience for anyone who undertook it. And so it was for Charles Darwin and three of the most important men in his life: Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Russel Wallace. All three made this journey to the southern lands and oceans and it was this shared experience, this bonding 'of the salt' as they called it, which created their lifelong friendship with Darwin and each other.

Without his 'fellow circumnavigators', Darwin's revolutionary theory might never have seen the light of day. Driven by ambition, friendship, even hatred, Hooker, Huxley and Wallace helped Darwin to formulate his theory, defend him from attack and eventually win the bitter public war for evolution. Featuring a cast of Australian and Canadian actors and commentators such as controversial author and Oxford academic, Richard Dawkins, the renowned author and academic, Jared Diamond from the University of California at Los Angeles, the Canadian scientist and broadcaster, David Suzuki and Australian scholar and author, Iain McCalman, from the University of Sydney, this brilliant dramatised documentary tells the story of Charles Darwin's struggle to produce one of the greatest scientific theories of our age and the roles played by Hooker, Huxley and Wallace - Darwin's fellow voyagers to the Southern Hemisphere. It is a story of a group of young men who had a new and radical vision of the world and had the courage to pursue it.

Running Time
162 mins
Nb videos
3 videos included

Comments (1)

Anonymous picture

Fascinating biography.

Brilliantly told and filmed.

Beautiful period costumes and natural scenery.

Wish his relationship with his wife would have featured more prominently..