Ascent of Man - BBC4 - TV

I have started watching the Ascent of Man on TV. (It was first broadcast in 1973). Apart from really enjoying it, what struck me was that it does not have a mini-trailer at the start of each episode.

Each episode just starts and proceeds to the end. There is no real indication at the beginning where it will end up.

Modern programmes all seem to start with “teasers” – so you know what to expect if you continue watching. I think I prefer the old way.


I absolutely agree.
I hate the whole, “Previously on…” preamble as well🫤

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You’ve never watched Picard then!



Thankfully most streaming platforms have an option to skip both the ‘previously…’ and the credits on the 2nd episode when binge watching. Just as annoying are the ‘in the next episode’ bits tacked on the end of some shows.

Prof Bronowski was a natural presenter. A brilliant series of programmes.


Thanks for the heads-up - I’ll be rewatching this when I’m back on home soil.

The episode filmed partly at Auschwitz is deeply moving. Wikipedia tells me it’s Episode 11: Knowledge or Certainty.


All of the various American SciFi shows I’m afraid and I absolutely record them all and skip the preamble on playback😂

I have the book somewhere. Must dig it out.

Good call.

Just checked to see if I still have DVD box set. No worries regarding preambles.

I must also rewatch A history of Britain.

Box sets like these can probably be picked up for peanuts on eBay.

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Ascent of man was a fantastic series, unlike most history or science programs today it actually treated its audience as adults, in a time when attention spans actually existed !

So much “ informative” TV today is frankly childish and requires constant mood music to “ make it interesting “ ……pathetic

Rant over :slight_smile:


Yes, a great series, probably the first UK globetrotting documentary. Groundbreaking in many ways, including the incidental music from then up-and-coming bands such as Pink Floyd. The episode of Auschwitz is definitely seared into my memory, and I also think the explanation of relativity using a tram is inspired.
The lack of these now common recapitulations every 15 minutes is due to the lack of adverts, and even though the BBC still avoids ads it’s forced to design programs for export to commercial stations as it’s now starved of funds.
Which of today’s shows will we be watching in 50 years time?


Great music … but unfortunately (as far as I can see) no info on the music in the credits …
Episode 3 is Messiaen – Et Expecto Ressurection Mortuorom
Episode 4 is Bartok – Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste
I looked on the internet and could not find any list of the music used. Some of it I recognize, some sounds vaguely familiar and some I have no idea.

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Things I hate with streaming:

Episodes starting automatically when I want to watch something else.

Episodes ending prematurely without showing the credits because they assume you want to watch the next one immediately. There were certain things on Britbox where there was brief content after the final credits but you never saw it because it went to next episode (NTNOCN sketches for example).

Popups asking if I want to skip the intro/credits manually. I’ve got a bloody remote you don’t have to ask/remind me every time!

The insanely fast ‘credits’ for modern TV which scroll too wuickly to take anything in.

Bah, humbug! Sometimes old fashioned DVD/BluRay gives a better experience.


Yes. All of the points you list are most annoying. The streaming interfaces are programmed to assume we are all impetuous binge-watchers. Absurd.

Have you checked your profile settings? Its possible to disable auto play within Netflix for example…

I watched that when I was nine when it was first broadcast.

An excellent programme that helped me understand the world.

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I turn most of these auto options off, maybe someone else in the house or software updates turn them on again, but for certain things like a button to ‘skip the intro’ there aren’t options - that’s all they need to keep all customers happy.

Just signed into my account via a browser and got a snooty email asking if it was me and warning about sharing passwords which I’ve never done.

Had a few of these in the past and they annoy me when you pay for the top tier of the service and have used them since 2012.

The autoplay settings seem to be off for all profiles on the account. Maybe there are additional per device settings which override these but there didn’t used to me AFAICR.

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The shear class of this programme makes most of the ‘documentaries’ made today look like a joke. Emphasis on culture, pertinent information and brilliant intellect - no booming music, lingering shots of posing presenters in costumes or dubious assertions and theories. Everything that the BBC of today isn’t.

Needless to say. I’m recording the whole lot.


I could be projecting but if you don’t know Frederic Raphael’s The Glittering Prizes, it’s possible that you might enjoy the BBC’s dramatisation, from roughly the same era as the Bronowski.

It would be interesting to look at Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation too, to see if it stands up today for the reasons you cite.

Then again, your thread is about streaming TV, not necessarily about any supposed golden age. In which case please ignore my post.