Doc­u­men­taries

a new se­ries cel­e­brates the 20th cen­tury’s MOST IN­FLU­EN­TIAL FIG­URES

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Icons and The Paras: Men of War

NEW HIS­TORY Icons

Tue, Wed, BBC2 HD, 9pm

ACROSS100 YEARS of seis­mic change, the 20th cen­tury was de­fined by achieve­ments in many fields, from science, arts and en­ter­tain­ment to pol­i­tics, ex­plo­ration and sport.

But who had the big­gest im­pact?

Icons in­vites view­ers to de­cide, as celebri­ties cham­pion il­lus­tri­ous pub­lic fig­ures in var­i­ous spheres. In the first two episodes, shown on BBC2 HD this week, Sir Trevor Mcdon­ald pro­files great po­lit­i­cal lead­ers on Tues­day, while Der­mot O’leary makes the case for ex­plor­ers on Wed­nes­day.

Here, O’leary cel­e­brates the four pi­o­neers cho­sen by a panel of ex­perts to be on his short­list. View­ers will then choose one to pro­ceed to the live fi­nal, in which a win­ner will be de­cided by pub­lic vote.

ERNEST SHACK­LE­TON

On 8 Au­gust 1914, Shack­le­ton set sail to at­tempt the first land cross­ing of Antarc­tica. Trapped in the sea ice for 10 months, his crew was forced to aban­don ship. Shack­le­ton then trav­elled 800 miles on a res­cue mis­sion and brought every­one home alive.

‘He showed su­per­hu­man courage

dur­ing what might have been one of ex­plo­ration’s great­est dis­as­ters,’ says O’leary.

GERTRUDE BELL

Gertrude Bell be­came an im­por­tant ad­viser on the Mid­dle East to the

Bri­tish gov­ern­ment in the wake of World

War One. She was in­stru­men­tal in the cre­ation of Iraq

(for­merly Me­sopotamia) and founded the Iraqi

Mu­seum to pre­serve the coun­try’s ar­chae­o­log­i­cal arte­facts. ‘She helped change the Mid­dle East for­ever,’ ex­plains O’leary.

NEIL ARM­STRONG

Arm­strong com­manded the Apollo 11 mis­sion to the moon. On 21 July 1969, he stepped onto the lu­nar sur­face and ut­tered the fa­mous words, ‘That’s one small step for man, one gi­ant leap for mankind’. ‘He was the first hu­man be­ing to set foot on the moon and, in do­ing so, com­pletely changed our view of the world,’ says O’leary.

JANE GOODALL

In 1960, 26-year-old Goodall, a nat­u­ral­ist, be­came the first per­son to suc­cess­fully study chim­panzees in the wild in Tan­za­nia. Her work was rev­o­lu­tion­ary in demon­strat­ing links be­tween chimp and hu­man be­hav­iour. ‘She has re­de­fined what it means to be hu­man,’ says O’leary.

AS­TRO­NAUT NEIL ARM­STRONG CHANGED HOW WE VIEW THE WORLD

ARM­STRONG ON THE MOON IN 1969

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