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