I spent most of this evening watching two BBC television programs about Darwin. The first, Jimmy Doherty in Darwin's Garden was excellent. To quote from the program's web page:
When Charles Darwin set about proving his theory of evolution, he had none of the advantages of modern genetics or DNA analysis so he came up with some ingenious experiments of his own. In this series, Jimmy Doherty recreates many of these investigations.
Jimmy takes a hands-on approach as he digs up a patch of turf in Darwin's own garden in Kent to illustrate the struggle for existence; he ropes down a chalk cliff to explore the age of the Earth; and he lets seeds soak in salt water for a month. The smelly results from this experiment prove that plants have the potential to cross oceans.
These and other investigations gave Darwin the evidence he needed to publish his theory in 1859. By replicating them Jimmy uncovers a dynamic Darwin, and through them reveals the secrets of evolution.
This program will be available to watch here for the next 21 days. You can also find there a link to the web page for the next episode in the series which is to be broadcast next week.
The second program that I watched this evening was Andrew Marr's Darwin's Dangerous Idea which I thought was rather pompous and over-blown. For all the far-reaching consequences of his ideas, Darwin was very down-to-earth and his ideas were backed up with masses of detailed observations and simple experiments. Doherty got this across much better than Marr did.