Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jane Shilling's TV Choice

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jane Shilling's TV Choice

Article excerpt

PLANET OF THE APEMEN: BATTLE FOR EARTH 8PM, BBC1 This odd documentary -- hard science crossed with risible scenes of warring hominids -- explores the idea that at the dawn of human history, there were many human species. Homo sapiens (that's us), were talkative, deceitful and good at throwing things, while our rival, Homo erectus, was handy with an axe but a bit dim and unable to rotate his shoulders. Thank goodness we won, eh? Or cricket would never have been invented.

AMAZON 9PM, BBC4 The Beeb has definitely got it in for wilderness at the moment. A couple of weeks ago, Adam Curtis demolished the notion of the pristine African wilderness in the brilliantly argued last episode of All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. Now it's the turn of the Amazon in this rather less elegant offering, which suggests that far from being uncharted wilderness, the whole place was at various points in history positively heaving with human life. From ancient geoglyphs (a bit like crop circles but not made by cider-drenched hippies) to the account of the 16th-century explorer, Francisco de Orellana, who described the Amazon as densely populated with civilised settlements (and was ignored as a fantasist, until archaeologists found he was right all along), the argument is that the rainforest was actually shaped by human activity. …

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