The Human Body (TV series)

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The Human Body
Also known asIntimate Universe: The Human Body
Directed byRichard Dale
Emma De'Ath
Andrew Thompson
Peter Georgi
Christopher Spencer
Liesel Evans
John Groom
Presented byRobert Winston
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes8
Executive producer(s)Alan Bookbinder
Lorraine Heggessey
Producer(s)Richard Dale
Production company(s)BBC
The Learning Channel
Original networkBBC One
Original release20 May (1998-05-20) –
25 June 1998 (1998-06-25)

The Human Body is a seven-part documentary series, first shown on 20 May 1998 on BBC One and presented by medical scientist Robert Winston. A co-production between the BBC and The Learning Channel, the series looks at the mechanics and emotions of the human body from birth to death.

The series was nominated for numerous awards, winning several, including three BAFTA awards, four RTS awards and a Peabody Award.


Described as the BBC's "first major TV series on human biology",[1] it took over two years to make and aimed to be the definitive set of programmes on the human body.[1] The series was produced by Richard Dale and presented by Professor Robert Winston, a fertility expert.

The series used a variety of different techniques to present the topics being discussed, including endoscopes and computer graphics for internal shots, time-lapse photography to show the growth of hair and nails, magnetic resonance imaging and scanning electron microscopy.[2]


  1. "Life Story" – Every second, a world of miraculous microscopic events take place within the body. (20 May 1998)
  2. "An Everyday Miracle" – The drama of conception activates the most sophisticated life support machine on earth. (27 May 1998)
  3. "First Steps" – In four years, the new-born child learns every survival skill. (3 June 1998)
  4. "Raging Teens" – The hormone-driven roller-coaster otherwise known as adolescence! (10 June 1998)
  5. "Brain Power" – The adult human brain is the most complicated - and mysterious - object in the universe. In this episode, Winston deliberately intoxicates himself in a restaurant to show the effects alcohol has on the brain. (17 June 1998)
  6. "The Making of the Human Body" – Winston reveals the secrets behind his human biology series (21 June 1998)
  7. "As Time Goes By" – is far more complex - and fascinating - than mere decline. (24 June 1998)
  8. "The End of Life" – Even in death, the body reveals remarkable secrets. (25 June 1998)


The series gained 6.3 million viewers and an audience share of 38%.[3]


The series was nominated for numerous awards, winning several, including three BAFTA awards, four RTS awards and a Peabody Award.

Year Award Result Category / Comments
1998 British Academy Television Awards Won Best Factual Series (Richard Dale)[4]
Won Originality (Richard Dale)[4]
Won Best Graphic Design (Tim Goodchild, David Haith)[4]
Nominated Best Photography (Factual) (Chris Hartley, David Barlow, Tim Shepherd, Rob Franklin)[4]
Nominated Best Sound (Factual)[4]
Royal Television Society Awards Won Best Graphic Design – Programme Content Sequences (Tim Goodchild, David Haith)[5]
Won Best Lighting, Photogtaphy & Camera - Photography Documentary/Factual (Chris Hartley, David Barlow, Tim Shepherd, Rob Franklin)[5]
Won Best Visual Effects (Tim Goodchild, David Barlow, Tim Shepherd, Steve Bowman)[5]
Won Craft and Design Innovation[5]
Nominated Team Award[6]
National Television Awards Nominated Most Popular Documentary Series[7]
George Foster Peabody Awards Won "Never needlessly technical and always witty, energetic, and innovative, The Human Body takes us on an incredible voyage, and for so doing, is deserving of the Peabody Award."[8]
1999 International Monitor Awards Won Documentaries – Director (Christopher Spencer for "The End of Life")[5]
San Francisco International Film Festival Silver Spire Won Television – Science and Nature (Alan Bookbinder, Lorraine Heggessey, Richard Dale, Christopher Spencer for "The End of Life")[5]
International Documentary Association Awards Nominated Limited Series (Sandra Gregory, Richard Dale)[5]

Other formats[edit]

A DVD of the series was released in July 2001 and includes a 50-minute feature on The Making of the Human Body - A final overview that reveals the techniques and developments that made the series possible.[9]

The series was adapted into a film released for IMAX cinemas. The film won the Giant Screen Theatre Association's Best Film For Lifelong Learning award.[3]


The book accompanying the series was written by Anthony Smith. According to one review, "Smith transcends anatomical trivia to record our bodies' powerful tale with empathy and clarity."[10]


  1. ^ a b "Fantastic journey through the seven ages of man". BBC News. 29 July 1998. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Shooting the human story". BBC News. 24 June 1998. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  3. ^ a b "The Human Body wins prestigious large format award". BBC Press Office. 15 October 2002. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Television Nominations 1998". BAFTA. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Awards for The Human Body". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  6. ^ "RTS Programme Awards 1998". Royal Television Society. Archived from the original on 22 March 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  7. ^ "Viewers' favourites to be revealed". BBC News. 27 October 1998. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  8. ^ 58th Annual Peabody Awards, May 1999.
  9. ^ Episode Comments. Retrieved 18 July 2009
  10. ^ Retrieved 19 July 2009

External links[edit]