There’s something for everyone on BBC Worldwide Channels Africa in March. Highlights for the month include The Chinese Are Coming on BBC Knowledge, Antiques Roadtrip on BBC Lifestyle, BBC Entertainment’s My Family, and kiddies fun with Big and Small on CBeebies.
Billy Connolly’s Route 66 (premiere)
From Friday, 9 March at 9pm WAT. Series continues every Friday at 9pm WAT.
Billy Connolly embarks on a road trip across America, from Illinois to California on the world’s most famous highway – Route 66 – to find out why this epic causeway is so significant in American culture. The road is not straightforward, having been decommissioned for 25 years and replaced or superseded by interstate highways, but it is still there – as long as you look hard enough. Along the route stand some of America’s most iconic landmarks, which still have resonance today.
After explaining the importance of Route 66 to Al Capone, Billy travels from Chicago to St Louis, Missouri, where he witnesses the terrible damage caused by a recent tornado. The residents’ homes have been destroyed, but their cheerful determination to rebuild their lives is inspirational. On the route to Oklahoma, Billy visits a wolf sanctuary, goes crossbow hunting, and swings by a Kansas car boot sale before an emotional visit to the beautiful memorial in Oklahoma City, dedicated to the 168 people who lost their lives in the 1995 terrorist bomb attack.
Billy also experiences a modern-day cowboys’ cattle market, visits a ghost town, and meets the residents of a secret town in New Mexico where the atomic bomb was developed and built. In Utah, an elder from the Navajo tribe conducts a healing ritual to mend Billy’s broken rib. But after boarding a vegetable oil-powered steam train into the Grand Canyon, Billy sets off for California; his final destination.
At Santa Monica Boulevard, where the land meets the ocean, a plaque marks the end of the iconic 2 488 mile journey across the States. Here, Billy reflects on his expedition, and on the fascinating people he has met along the way. Has he discovered the true significance of the Route 66 to today’s Americans?
Year of Adventures (premiere)
From Saturday, 10 March at 5pm WAT. Series continues every Saturday at 5pm WAT.
Based on Lonely Planet’s best-selling guide A Year of Adventures, this five-part series follows adrenalin-hunter Ben Fogle as he travels all over the planet in pursuit of action and adventure in some of the most breath-taking places on earth. In each challenging episode, Fogle tests his own limits of endurance, strength and agility. In America, he makes the mile-and-a-half swim from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco Bay, where the choppy waters were perilous to would-be escapees during the infamous prison’s history. He also joins Kate Humble in a terrifying 400 foot climb up the iconic sandstone Castleton Tower in Utah, goes canyoneering in the Utah desert, and climbs California’s redwood trees for a spectacular view at the top.
In Italy, Fogle takes part in the Three Peaks Alpine Run – a gruelling 17.5km run through the picturesque Dolomites – and paraglides over these spectacular mountains for a bird’s eye view, while in Australia he competes in the Gascoyne Dash Desert Race and the Anaconda Adventure Race, where brave competitors have to run, swim, cycle and paddle their way to victory along the South Australian coastline. Other challenges include hovercraft racing, the London Rat Race, kayaking, coasteering on the Welsh Pembrokeshire coast and diving under a glacier in Iceland’s freezing waters to see where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates join.
In a journey that takes him across the globe, Year of Adventures follows Fogle as he overcomes his fears and demonstrates what anyone can achieve if they really put their minds to it.
Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands (premiere)
From Monday, 12 March at 8pm WAT. Series continues every Monday at 8pm WAT.
Fly-on-the-wall series that puts the real-life medical and personal dramas of six newly qualified doctors under the microscope. Every August in the UK, more than 7 000 inexperienced, newly qualified staff face the daunting prospect of walking onto hospital wards as doctors for the first time. What happens when they are left in charge of saving lives?
Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands follows six rookies over a four-month period as they embark on their chosen careers in large, busy city hospitals in Newcastle in the North-East of England. Find out how they deal with first day nerves, wrestling with drunks in A&E, their first experience of death and delivering their first baby. The cameras are also there when their hospital shift ends and their private life begins. Most of these dedicated young doctors live in shared accommodation on the Quayside, just as they did when they were students, but now they must learn to balance their new working lives with play, relationships and family commitments.
Theirs is a life of tears, frustration, humour and triumph as the junior doctors form new friendships and romances, and the reality of working for a living takes hold. All that, and they must also live with the terrifying prospect that – if they don’t get the diagnosis or treatment right – they could accidentally kill someone.
Civilisation: Is the West History? (premiere)
From Thursday, 15 March at 8pm WAT. Series continues every Thursday at 8pm WAT.
The West once ruled more than half the world, and the religion it offered is still followed by a third of mankind. The way people live – or aspire to live – is unmistakeably an invention of the West. All over the world, Western diet, fashion and housing have been adopted by different countries and cultures. But is all this coming to an end?
Harvard historian Niall Ferguson investigates why the Western way of life has been so popular and influential for around five centuries. By juxtaposing the West and “the Rest”, he aims to uncover what exactly is so special about the West, and how it has secured the lion’s share of Earth’s resources for so long.
Niall also looks at whether the phenomenal rise in the Chinese economy, coupled with mounting scepticism about the West’s combination of the free market plus democracy, and the concerns about an inevitable environmental apocalypse could spell the end of the West’s reign.
The Chinese Are Coming (premiere)
From Thursday, 15 March at 9pm WAT. Series continues every Thursday at 9pm WAT.
Pioneering Chinese companies are making progress in every corner of the globe, from Wall Street to Rio de Janeiro and across all of Africa. In this two-part documentary, journalist Justin Rowlatt finds out more about Chinese ambition, and why Chinese companies are so successful wherever they are in the world.
In episode one, Justin travels to Africa to chart the extraordinary Chinese migration to the continent. Whilst the Western world views Africa as a land of poverty, the Chinese view it as a land of business opportunity. From Angola to Tanzania, Justin meets the brave entrepreneurs who have travelled thousands of miles to set up businesses far from home.
In episode two, Justin travels to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to find out why cheap Chinese imports are threatening local industries like the bikini factories. He also visits the Amazon, where he witnesses the phenomenal devastation the Chinese are causing to the indigenous people and their precious environment.
Finally, he heads to the United States and discovers the undercurrent of American rage at their decline in the face of competition from China. With the entire Western world’s economy new dependent on China, and developing countries increasingly under the emerging superpower’s influence, what will the world be like if China really does take over?
Blood, Sweat and Luxuries (premiere)
From Monday, 19 March at 9pm WAT. Series continues every Monday at 9pm WAT.
From the latest electrical gadgets to leather handbags, what used to be luxuries are now everyday items in today’s Britain. These items are becoming increasingly more disposable – but would we be less blasé about throwing things away if we knew the human cost of making our luxuries?
Six young consumers swap their luxury lives for the simple mud huts and shanty towns of Africa and Asia to work alongside the people who mine, manufacture, process and recycle their luxury goods. Their journey starts in Madagascar, where they join the chain gangs of miners tasked with digging up sapphires in the pits. Then it’s off to Ethiopia to experience the abattoirs, tanneries and leather factories that supply shoes to Europe, before heading into the jungle to find out what it’s like to work on a coffee plantation.
In Ghana, the Brits must cope with 40 degree heat and backbreaking work whilst digging for gold, and are horrified to learn the reality of where our unwanted electrical goods end up. Finally, the group head to the Philippines to join the hundreds of worker making components for MP3 and DVD players.
Their journey is hard and at times shocking, but will their experiences change the way we purchase and discard our luxury goods?
Are We Still Evolving? (premiere)
Tuesday, 20 March at 9pm WAT.
Anatomist and anthropologist Dr Alice Roberts takes a look at the evolutionary process and asks what the future holds for humans. Many scientists had assumed that humans stopped evolving when we started insulating ourselves from the whims of nature, but the mapping of the human genome has produced some startling results. Not only have humans evolved over the last 50 000 years, but it’s technology – the very thing believed to have stopped evolution – that has been driving it.
Roberts meets the scientists who are analysing recent changes in the human genome, and explores their evidence for our recent genetic mutations. She discovers how diseases have shaped our evolution, and how they will continue to do so, despite our modern medicine. She also meets the scientists who have been studying, and even driving, evolution in animals and plants, and discovers just how quickly humans could change, challenging the idea that evolution takes hundreds of thousands of years.
Could we evolve into two separate species, as one evolutionist thinks is inevitable? Ultimately, Roberts asks the question: if we can control the evolution of plants and animals, can we control our own evolution? Has natural selection become irrelevant to us – not because we’ve stopped evolving, but because we can dictate our own evolutionary path?
Into the Mind (premiere)
From Wednesday, 21 March at 8pm WAT. Series continues every Wednesday at 8pm WAT.
Michael Mosley reveals the risky psychological experiments, unorthodox treatments and cutting edge neuroscience that have marked our attempts to understand and manipulate the brain. Into The Mind traces how scientists set out to understand our emotions. We follows the shocking story of John B Watson’s experiments on a five-month-old baby, and psychologist Harry Harlow’s horrific experiments on baby monkeys.
The dark history of mind control is examined in detail – revealing the theories and techniques that have been developed to invade another’s thoughts, alter their memory and even their belief systems. Mosley finds out about the CIA project that aimed to control people’s minds, the 1950s sensory deprivation experiments that could ‘break a person in 24 hours’ and how modern day science is making us question our very notion of free will.
Into The Mind exposes the extraordinary and scarcely believable experiments that have taken place, all in the name of science. Mosley subjects himself to some revealing tests and witnesses cutting edge investigations that are challenging the way we think about ourselves.
Is Seeing Believing? (premiere)
Wednesday, 28 March at 9pm WAT.
Can you really believe your eyes? Find out how some of the strangest illusions created by science reveal how our senses work, and how they can be manipulated. With a coloured cube, a giant chess board, and a huge chair, neuroscientist Beau Lotto proves that nothing we see is certain, and that even our strongest instincts can be wrong. Colour isn’t a quality of the real world, but a subjective experience created within our imaginations.
Next we visit a magic show as psychologist and former mathematician Dr Gustav Kuhn reveals that it’s our brains – not our eyes – that are fooled. An image takes about 150 milliseconds to travel from our eyes to our brains. This is too long for our brains, so it makes predictions and constructs events that may not have even happened.
So how do our senses work together? We meet a synaesthete – a person who sees vivid colours upon hearing a person speak – and find out how to convince a group of chefs that the food they are eating is stale because of the sounds they can hear.
Finally, we discover how it’s possible to harness this understanding of our senses and manipulate them to work in the way we want – giving us powers we never knew we had, such as the man has learnt to “see” by echo locating like a bat, and the pilots who are learning to land helicopters without their sight – by using their sense of touch alone.
Although a better understanding of our senses is opening up new and exciting possibilities, it also begs the question; can we really trust our senses at all?
India on Four Wheels (premiere)
From Thursday, 29 March at 9pm WAT. Series continues every Thursdays at 9pm WAT.
Journalists Justin Rowlatt and Anita Rani set off on an epic, chaotic and gruelling road trip around India to discover how the country’s booming economy is having a huge effect on the people and their cars. With an ever-increasing number of affordable cars on the market, the new must-have accessory for a wealthy Indian is a new car. Perceived as both a status symbol and a sign of social development, people’s lives are becoming intertwined with car ownership. So why is owning a car so important to this nation of cyclists?
While Rani sets off in a flashy air-conditioned Mahindra Bolero to find out how money is turning India into a modern country, Rowlatt heads off for more rural scenery in the traditional but notoriously unreliable stalwart of Indian cars; the Ambassador. They’ll have to brave the most dangerous roads the country has to offer before meeting up three weeks later in Chennai.
Whether it’s a roadside breakdown, a suicidal peacock, or camping with the Orissa hill tribes, there are certainly challenges along the way. Rowlatt and Rani discover there’s a lot more to owning a car in India than simply getting behind the wheel. At the end of the road the exhausted travellers realise that the booming economy and modernisation have come at a price. Is India ready for the millions of cars that are about to be unleashed?
From Thursday, 1 March at 9am WAT. Series continues every weekday at 9am WAT.
Britain’s best-loved antiques experts embark on a road trip across the UK as they compete against each other to make the most money buying and selling antiques. While searching for antiques to sell, they paint a picture of Britain as they travel through a changing landscape of stunning countryside, coastal villages, bustling market towns and sprawling cities. At the end of each episode the expert who has made the most money will be the winner. But expertise, reputations and egos are still on the line as the ultimate crown of series winner will be decided at a nail-biting grand finale auction in one of London’s most prestigious auction houses.
Season two sees Charles Hanson and Jonathan Pratt travel around Northern Ireland and Liverpool, Mark Stacey and Charlie Ross venture through the Midlands and Cardiff, Kate Bliss and James Lewis go on a Scottish odyssey and David Barby and Philip Serrell travel from Ampthill to Gloucester.
Antiques Road Trip is a series that’s guaranteed to provide fun and drama in equal measure, not to mention a comprehensive cross-country guide to buying and selling antiques for profit.
Dating in the Dark USA (premiere)
From Sunday, 4 March at 6pm WAT. Series continues every Sunday at 6pm WAT.
Is it possible to fall in love with someone you have spoken to intimately, whom you have touched, perhaps even tasted… but whom you have never actually seen? That is the key question posed in Dating in the Dark USA, a revealing experiment in which three men and three women try to find a partner by looking with their hearts. Never before have singles been given the opportunity of meeting and interacting for such a prolonged period without actually seeing one another.
Although the participants cannot see a thing, viewers will be able to see everything that is happening. The only question is: how will exposure to light affect their feelings for one another? Will outside appearance suddenly play a role or is love really blind? This first series features an FBI profiler who gives the guys a real grilling on everything from one-night stands to pornography, and a student who spends more time with her cats than she does her friends.
There are twists and turns as the boys and girls battle it out for one another – but you can never tell just how they will all react in the light of day…
The Good Cook (premiere)
From Monday, 12 March at 7:30pm WAT. Series continues every Monday at 7:30pm WAT.
Simon Hopkinson knows all about good food, and he knows what you need to make great meals in your own kitchen. A hugely acclaimed chef and food writer, Hopkinson draws on his years of experience and love of cooking to show how you can create restaurant quality food at home, with everyday ingredients. Along the way he reveals where and how to find the right produce, which ingredients it’s worth spending your money on, and how to create exquisite meals using cheaper cuts and fabulous flavours instead of the latest food fads.
In this series, Hopkinson cooks up treats including pappardelle pasta, risotto with Parma ham and asparagus pancakes, cheese and onion pie and roast chicken.
My Family (season 11)
From Tuesday, 6 March at 7pm WAT. Series continues every Tuesday at 7pm WAT.
The kids might be grown up but that doesn’t mean life gets any easier for Ben and Susan Harper. Quite the opposite in fact… This season sees Susan and daughter Janey go head to head for an exciting job reading children’s books on television. Attracted by the £50 000 salary, Janey decides to sabotage her mother’s chances, but who will come out on top?
Ben is also upping the game at work, summoning his fellow dentists to strike over new conditions. Before that, however, he is offered a promotion, and although he has his list of stipulations at the ready, they suddenly slip his mind. Seduced by the power and a fancy pencil sharpener, Ben accepts the role. But he’s about to pay the price with his colleagues…
Elsewhere, Susan is introduced to the joys of Facebook, and finds herself embroiled with an old flame, Ben struggles to outsmart his six-year old grandson when reluctantly babysitting, and when Susan’s father turns up after many years offering to buy her out of her marriage to Ben for £2-million, could divorce be on the cards?
Hell’s Kitchen USA (Season 5)
From Wednesday, 14 March at 8:10pm WAT. Series continues every Wednesday at 8:10pm WAT.
A new batch of 16 aspiring chefs step through the doors of Hell’s Kitchen to face world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay, all hoping they have what it takes to succeed. The chefs get to work right away by preparing and presenting their signature dishes to Chef Ramsay. When the doors of the restaurant open and the intensity heats up, tempers flare, emotions run high.
The chefs have varying degrees of culinary experience, but all are incredibly passionate about food. Demanding absolute perfection, Ramsay puts the chefs through rigorous culinary challenges, testing to see who will boil under the intense pressure. Each week, Ramsay sends one chef home, and the rest are one step closer to the grand prize of a “Head Chef” position at the East Coast’s leading resort destination, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
Sports Relief 2012 Specials
From Sunday, 18 March at 1:30pm WAT. Series continues Sunday 25 March from 1pm WAT.
A series of exclusive documentaries recalling some of the most memorable moments from Sport Relief on the BBC, one of the UK’s biggest fundraising events which harnesses the power and passion of sport to change the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Highlights include David Walliams’ epic fundraising swim along the entire 140 mile length of the River Thames, and a comedy special in which celebrities compete in ancient Olympic events deemed too daredevil or mad to be allowed today.
This Is Sport Relief
Sunday, 18 March at 1pm WAT.
Stephen Fry introduces the world to Sport Relief as BBC Entertainment takes the much loved British charity event and exports it to a global audience. Every two years, the best of British sporting talent, comedians and entertainers join forces to generate awareness and cash for the world’s poorest people. This Is Sport Relief discovers how the event raises laughs, raises money and changes lives as it kicks off a whole season of exclusive programming on BBC Entertainment. Highlights from Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear team, footballer David Beckham and Little Britain’s David Walliams.
Season one: back-to-back episodes from Saturday, 24 March at 7pm WAT. Season two: back-to-back episodes from Saturday, 31 March at 7pm WAT.
The Inbetweeners follows four friends marooned in suburbia as they navigate the minefield of adolescence with their hormones at full blast. The first season encompasses vomit, adult language, and a disastrous trip to Thorpe Park. And things get no better with the work experience from hell, the brutal attack of a fish and an enlightening trip to the bright lights of London. The second season continues with Will still attempting to be part of the group, but now has a new challenge; to raise the social standing of his new friends to ‘cool’. It’s not going to be easy… At Will’s side is Simon, who is still hopelessly besotted with Carli D’Amato and immediately goes along with anything she thinks is cool. Jay is still boasting of impressive exploits and sexual conquests that are just a little too fantastical to believe. And Neil is still not the brains of the outfit and his dad is definitely not gay.
Sports Relief Goes Global
Sunday, 1 April at 1pm WAT
This four-hour extravaganza comes directly from The Mall in London, the iconic venue of last year’s Royal Wedding. The special will feature all the comedy highlights from Sport Relief 2012 including entertainment and sketches from the stars of Outnumbered, Top Gear, Doctor Who and Gavin and Stacey, among others.
Big and Small
From Monday, 5 March at 7am and 3pm WAT. Series continues every weekday at 7am, 11am and 3pm WAT.
Big and Small is the heart-warming story of two best friends. One is big and the other one is small. Both are equally cute and both have a great sense of humour. Big is big, gentle, kind, a little dreamy, occasionally indecisive and annoyingly tidy. He’s easily distracted, which sometimes drives Small crazy. Big likes to watch things grow. He also likes to count, and read, and look at the stars. And he loves to sing and dance. What he loves most of all is building things, but none of his projects get anywhere near completion. Small is the kind of guy you love to have around, even if he sometimes drives you crazy. He’s loud and exuberant and always in a hurry. He acts first and thinks later. He’s melodramatic and boastful, but also a great story-teller and adventurer, and he loves living in Big’s house in the meadow.
In season three, Big and Small make a scarecrow to protect the seeds they have planted, spend a day doing the opposite of what they normally do, and make a wish on a star that has fallen to earth. Small also decides he wants his own bedroom, so he moves into the cupboard under the stairs – but he soon finds he misses his best friend Big too much.
Nina and the Neurons: Brilliant Bodies
From Friday, 16 March at 6:30am and 2:30pm. Series continues every weekday at 6:30am, 10:30pm and 2:30pm WAT.
Join Nina and her neurons in the lab for energetic and messy fun and learn just how brilliant our bodies really are! Nina is a fun, fictional scientist, and the five neurons are animated characters who live in Nina’s brain and, like real human neurons, send messages to the parts of her body which control her senses. Nina uses the neurons to help her explore and explain the world around her.
In this season, Nina looks at our brilliant bodies and answers questions like: do we need blood? Why do our teeth fall out? Why do some things make sneeze? With loads of hands-on help from children acting as Nina’s sense experimenters, she finds the answer to the question of the day.