British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Dna: The Story of the Pioneers Who Changed the World

Synopsis
A double DVD consisting of five programmes (four of them broadcast on Channel 4) tracing the history of one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century - the double-helix structure of DNA.
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Year of release
2004
Year of production
2003
Notes
The first four programmes were broadcast weekly on Channel 4, beginning on 8/3/03
Subjects
Biology; Medical sciences
Keywords
cancer; DNA; genetic code; genetic disorders; genetic engineering; Human Genome Project; medical research; Watson, James D

Distribution Formats

Type
DVD
Price
£24.95
Availability
Sale
Duration/Size
300 minutes
Year
2004

Sections

Title
Secret of Life, The
Synopsis
Broadcast under the title THE STORY OF LIFE. 50 years ago, two unknown scientists burst into a pub in Cambridge declaring they had found the secret of life. This was a momentous discovery, not just for the human race but for the people involved as it was one of the most heated scientific races the world had ever seen.

Dr Watson talks about the events that led to a double helix model being built by Dr Francis Crick and himself. Others who were involved with the DNA story talk about what they did and why Watson and Crick beat all the odds to find the double helix first and win the noble prize. The story begins in Cambridge 50 years ago when Jim Watson and Francis Crick ran into a pub claiming to have discovered the secret of life. Later on, they received the Nobel prize for their work which triggered a race to discover its structure
Duration
60 mins

Title
Playing God
Synopsis
Following on from the discovery of the double helix, this programme moves into the world of genetics. Scientists in the 70’s were leaping into the highly controversial area of genetic engineering and an entire industry was built on genetically modified plants, drugs and food. Talks to some of the people involved with setting up some of the first major corporations and how another race was to grip the world of science and business. As well as food and plants being manufactured in a laboratory, the search was on for cures for diseases, including the controversial human insulin reproduction.
Duration
60 mins

Title
Human Race, The
Synopsis
Part three looks at how, in 1990, it was decided to compile a complete DNA instruction manual for the human body. Named the Human Genome Project, it looked set to be scuppered by intense rivalry between scientific factions. On one side the Watson-initiated public project would make all information on the genome free tot he general population, and ont he other the privately owned research project that was going to charge scientists and companies around the world to look at and use any genes from a human. Former President Bill Clinton recalls the tense situation and how he helped to resolve it.
Duration
60 mins

Title
Future. The
Synopsis
Programme 4 tells the story of how the discovery of DNA is being turned into something useful: a cure for cancer. It begins with a young woman’s epic search for the breast cancer gene. Her 20 year quest ends with the genetic test for breast cancer she had dreamed of falling into the hands of a private company. The second half of the film reveals how finding cancer genes is the key to 21st century cancer medicine. American railwayman Bud Romine is the living proof.
Duration
60 mins

Title
Mortal Coil, The
Synopsis
The final part focuses on the controversial work and opinions of Jim Watson - a co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA. He believes that scientists should be allowed research into creating a superior race - a view which has allowed his critics to draw comparisons with the Nazi’s programme of eugenics. This programme follows him to Berlin where he strives daily to get genetic engineering accepted in a country so tainted by its past. He also gives his views on what he calls life’s "genetic lottery" and we see some of the people it affects. Shows how genetic diseases affect the lives of children and their families.
Duration
60 mins

Production Company

Name

Channel Four Television

Phone
071-396 4444
Address
LONDON
SW1P 2TX
Name

Windfall Films Ltd

Web
http://www.windfallfilms.com/ External site opens in new window
Phone
020 7637 2666
Fax
020 7637 2612
Address
22-24 Torrington Place
WC1E 7HJ
Notes
Contact: T J Bezant (7/99)

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