The Ascent of Man is a 13-part documentary television series produced by the BBC and Time-Life Films first broadcast in 1973; it was written and presented by Jacob Bronowski. Intended as a series of “personal view” documentaries in the manner of Kenneth Clark’s 1969 series Civilisation, the series received acclaim for Bronowski’s highly informed but eloquently simple analysis, his long unscripted monologues and its extensive location shoots.
The title alludes to The Descent of Man, the second book on evolution by Charles Darwin. Over the series’ 13 episodes, Bronowski travelled around the world in order to trace the development of human society through its understanding of science. It was commissioned specifically to complement Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation (1969), in which Clark argued that art reflected and was informed by the major driving forces in cultural evolution. Bronowski wrote in his 1951 book The Commonsense of Science: “It has been one of the most destructive modern prejudices that art and science are different and somehow incompatible interests”. Both series were commissioned by David Attenborough, then controller of BBC Two, whose colleague Aubrey Singer had been astonished by Attenborough prioritising an arts series given his science background.
The 13-part series was shot on 16 mm film. Executive Producer was Adrian Malone, film directors were Dick Gilling, Mick Jackson, David Kennard and David Paterson. Quotations were read by actors Roy Dotrice and Joss Ackland. [Wikipedia]
Sir David Attenborough remembers The Ascent Of Man on the mik99D YouTube Channel.