Monkman and Seagull's Genius Adventures

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Technology Documentary hosted by Simon Cowell, published by BBC in 2020 - English narration

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Image: Monkman-and-Seagull-s-Genius-Adventures-Cover.jpg

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University Challenge legends Eric Monkman and Bobby Seagull are embarking on a genius adventure as they travel around Britain on a journey through time, exploring their favourite scientific breakthroughs from the Industrial Revolution and the Victorian era, a period when scientific progress changed the world, and one that continues to influence the way we live today.

[edit] 1759 to 1825

Their adventures begin with the 18th-century inventions that kick-started the Industrial Revolution and transformed our scientific understanding. First stop is 1759 and Greenwich - home to John Harrison's marine chronometer, the eventual winner of the £20,000 Longitude Prize. Taking to the 'high seas' in a pedalo, the duo show how this marvellous machine transformed our navigation of the oceans.

Travelling ten years on, they head to Derbyshire in 1769 and Richard Arkwright's water frame - a spinning machine that allowed cotton textiles to be mass-produced, supersizing Britain's economy. Next, they get up close and personal with James Watt's separate condenser – an unassuming invention that would be the biggest single improvement ever made to the world-transforming steam engine.

Having explored how the Industrial Revolution began, the duo then travel north to the Scottish Highlands to illustrate a momentous 1774 experiment to weigh the planet, before making a pit stop at the National Library to get their hands on the very first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica – the book that brought accessible knowledge to the masses. Moving on to 1774, their scientific odyssey takes them to Bowood House, Wiltshire, where they recreate Joseph Priestley's breakthrough experiments on gases in the very room where he discovered oxygen.

Monkman and Seagull's penultimate stop is 1784 in Oxford, where they attempt to take to the skies in homage to the 18th century's hot air ballooning pioneers. Finally, they head to see a breakthrough that had a profound impact on British society – the world's first steam railway locomotive.

[edit] 1815 to 1843

Their genius adventure continues through the first half of the 19th century, as the duo seek out the birthplaces of the inventions that fuelled Britain's industrial infrastructure. First stop is The Royal Institution in London in 1815, where Monkman and Seagull uncover a simple invention that saved the lives of thousands of coal miners - the Davy lamp. They then pay a visit to 1821 and the preserved laboratory of Michael Faraday, another of their scientific heroes, whose research on electricity paved the way for its application as a ubiquitous energy supply. Travelling north, they visit Stoke-on-Trent in 1824 to investigate a building material they believe is one of the unsung heroes of the Industrial Revolution – cement.

Next, they visit the small town of Rainhill between Liverpool and Manchester to join the celebrations for the 190th anniversary of the Stephenson's Rocket locomotive winning the 1829 Rainhill time trials – a competition that paved the way for Britain's modern railway network.

As the century progresses, Monkman and Seagull challenge each other to a bicycle race, in homage to this 19th-century revolutionary invention that transformed personal transport, as well as nationwide social patterns.

Their next stop is to get their hands on a model of Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No 2 – conceived by the mathematical mastermind as the first steam-powered calculator. Monkman and Seagull challenge themselves to compete against this ingenious machine in a mathematical race against the clock. Finally, they travel to Bristol in 1843 and explore the SS Great Britain – a steamship that propelled overseas travel and commerce.

[edit] 1850 to 1897

The duo visit the birthplaces of their favourite inventions between 1850 and 1900, the height of the Victorian era, when British progress began to impact our everyday lives. They begin in 1858, with a visit to Crossness Pumping Station – part of the first sanitation system ever built for London which revolutionised public health. They then retrace the footsteps of Charles Darwin at London Zoo in 1859, where they get their hands on a first edition of Darwin's masterwork On the Origin of Species – a book that broadened understanding of human existence.

Afterwards, the duo visit a dinosaur park in Crystal Palace – home to the first prehistoric statues ever seen and the first public park dedicated to science. Next is a stop-off at a Victorian fern forest in Devon, where Monkman and Seagull partake in the Victorian hobby of fern-hunting, a pastime taken up by Victorians who had newly afforded leisure time. They travel to a remote beach in Cornwall in 1870 for the story of Britain's first successful undersea telegraph line, connecting Britain to India. They demonstrate this momentous breakthrough in rapid communication by sending messages to each other using Morse code.

At London's Savoy Theatre, the pair visit 1881 and the first public building in the world to be lit entirely by electricity. Here, they demonstrate the world-transforming invention of the lightbulb by connecting a pencil lead, a battery and a glass jar.

Finally, Monkman and Seagull visit Cambridge to hold a modest glass tube from 1897 that was in fact responsible for the discovery of the electron - a breakthrough that paved the way for modern-day electronics.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x265 CABAC Main@L4
  • Video Bitrate: CRF 21.5 (~2651Kbps)
  • Video Resolution: 1920x1080
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frame Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC
  • Audio Bitrate: Q=0.45 VBR 48KHz (~128Kbps)
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Run-Time: 59 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 3
  • Part Size: 1.15 GB (average)
  • Source: HDTV
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

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