Debate Magazine

My New Favorite Things

Posted on the 21 February 2013 by Doggone
I have thoroughly enjoyed Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s previous series that combined DNA research with more traditional genealogy, I am very much looking forward to his newest series, 'Finding Your Roots', beginning in  March of this year.  His two earliest series focused on tracking back the biological history of African Americans, while Faces of Americans dealt more broadly.
And of course, I have written here periodically, while indulging my inner 'science geek', about a variety of aspects of DNA, from how reptile DNA got into the DNA of our modern domestic cows, to the inclusion of Neanderthal DNA in modern humans.
In a similar-but-different premise, I have to thank my co-blogger Laci for tipping me to a BBC series, "Meet the Izzards" that combines two of my favorite things.  I am a big fan of the talents of Brit comedian and actor Eddie Izzard (who's name I have been pronouncing all these years as rhyming with Lizard, when it should be Is-ARRD, emphasis on the second syllable, and rhyming with 'hard').
Izzard has done a wonderful series tracing his own roots back to Africa from the UK, involving the long journey across several continents and roughly 180,000 years.  In the process he finds that he also has some 2% of Neanderthal DNA. The series begins with tracing his mother's DNA, which is particularly poignant because his mother died when he was only 6 years old; this is a way in which he becomes closer to her through researching his origins on his mother's side of the family in the first episode.
While the delightful Izzard series is not currently playing here in the U.S., I'm hoping it will be purchased by PBS or possibly shown on BBC America on cable in the future, all the more so if people know to ask for it, and if the next Henry Louis Gates Jr. series is as wildly successful as his previous efforts have been.
Until then, I'm going to be as impatient as a child digging in to the candy in their Easter basket, because I don't have to wait for this to come to American television.  Thanks to the access of the internet, I can watch the BBC from wherever I happen to be.
My second new favorite thing is a more limited series, also from the BBC, Fake or Fortune.  I have been sadly disappointed to learn that there are only 7 episodes total in the combine two seasons - or series, as they call a season in the UK.  The first season of four episodes was shown here on PBS, although it appears to be programming purchased by individual stations; definitely worth watching if it is shown again. I'm looking for the last three episodes through UK television on-line. If you can find it, and if you have any delight in the sleuthing of science combined with the delights of fine art, it is wonderfully well done, making art and science combine into adventure.

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