Big budget television series for the BBC have investigated mammals, dinosaurs and the mysterious inhabitants of the watery deep. Now, in a new flagship series from the fertility expert Robert Winston, the corporation is turning its attention to the most curious creature of them all – man.
After the hit series Walking with Dinosaurs and Walking with Beasts, BBC1 is taking us back to discover our ancient forefathers in Walking with Cavemen. Lord Winston will present the series using the latest in computer-generated wizardry to explain the story of human evolution.
The series, announced yesterday as a highlight of BBC1's winter schedule, will bring to life scientifically accurate recreations of modern man's ancestor, andthe animals they hunted and were hunted by.
Starting when apes first left the forests in Africa and walked on two feet, Lord Winston will show how the fight for survival over thousands of years produced the modern human being. Lorraine Heggessey, the BBC1 controller responsible for the project, said: "This is the tale of every man, woman and child on the planet today."
Other BBC highlights for the season include the true story of Prince John, the youngest son of George V and Queen Mary, which will be told in a drama by Stephen Poliakoff starring Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson and Gina McKee. An accompanying documentary, The King, the Kaiser and the Tsar, will examine why the monarchy in Britain survived when others in Europe failed.
In another series, the Renaissance artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci will be evaluated by Alan Yentob, a senior BBC executive, in his presenting debut. And Nelson Mandela will give exclusive interviews to David Dimbleby for a documentary tracing his life.
Other schedule highlights include My Dad's the Prime Minister, a comedy written by Nick Newman and the Private Eye editor, Ian Hislop, about a 12-year-old boy whose father runs the country.