Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives is a four-part BBC documentary series about the discovery of fossils. It was written and presented by David Attenborough.
With the help of expert palaeontologists, fossil hunters and (for the time) modern animation techniques, Attenborough attempts to show how life evolved in Earth's distant past. To do so, he travels the globe to visit the world's most famous fossil sites.
Runtime: 60 minutes
Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives - The War of the Worlds (radio drama) - Netflix
“The War of the Worlds” is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on Sunday, October 30, 1938, and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds (1898). It became famous for allegedly causing mass panic, although the scale of the panic is disputed as the program had relatively few listeners. The program began with the theme music for the Mercury Theater on the Air and an announcement that the evening's show was an adaption of The War of the Worlds. This was followed by a prologue read by Orson Welles which was closely based on the opening of H.G. Wells' novel. The next half hour of the one-hour broadcast was presented as typical evening radio programming being interrupted by a series of news bulletins. The first few updates interrupt a program of dance music and describe a series of odd explosions observed on Mars. This is followed soon thereafter by a seemingly unrelated report of an unusual object falling on a farm in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. Another brief musical interlude is interrupted by a live report from Grover's Mill, where police officials and a crowd of curious onlookers have surround the strange cylindrical object. The situation quickly escalates when Martians emerge from the cylinder and attack using a heat-ray, abruptly cutting off the panicked reporter at the scene. This is followed by a rapid series of increasingly alarming news bulletins detailing a devastating alien invasion taking place across the United States and the world, climaxing with another live report describing giant Martian war machines releasing clouds of poisonous smoke across New York City. After a short break, the program shifts to a more conventional radio drama format and follows a survivor dealing with the aftermath of the invasion and ultimately discovering that the Martians have been defeated not by humans, but by microbes. The illusion of realism was furthered because the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining show without commercial interruptions, and the first break in the program came almost 30 minutes after the introduction. Popular legend holds that some of the radio audience may have been listening to Edgar Bergen and tuned in to “The War of the Worlds” during a musical interlude, thereby missing the clear introduction that the show was a drama, but research in the 2010s suggests that happened only in rare instances. In the days after the adaptation, widespread outrage was expressed in the media. The program's news-bulletin format was described as deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast and calls for regulation by the Federal Communications Commission. The episode secured Welles's fame as a dramatist.
Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives - Newspaper coverage and response - Netflix
As it was late on a Sunday night in the Eastern Time Zone, where the broadcast originated, few reporters and other staff were present in newsrooms. Most newspaper coverage thus took the form of Associated Press stories, which were largely anecdotal aggregates of reporting from its various bureaus, giving the impression that panic had indeed been widespread. Many newspapers led with the Associated Press's story the next day. The Twin City Sentinel of Winston-Salem, North Carolina pointed out that the situation could have been even worse if most people had not been listening to Edgar Bergen's show: “Charlie McCarthy last night saved the United States from a sudden and panicky death by hysteria.” On November 2, 1938, the Australian newspaper The Age characterized the incident as “mass hysteria” and stated that “never in the history of the United States had such a wave of terror and panic swept the continent”. Unnamed observers quoted by The Age commented that “the panic could have only happened in America.” Editorialists chastised the radio industry for allowing that to happen. The response may have reflected newspaper publishers' fears that radio, to which they had lost some of the advertising revenue that was scarce enough during the Great Depression, would render them obsolete. In “The War of the Worlds,” they saw an opportunity to cast aspersions on the newer medium: “The nation as a whole continues to face the danger of incomplete, misunderstood news over a medium which has yet to prove that it is competent to perform the news job,” wrote Editor & Publisher, the newspaper industry's trade journal. William Randolph Hearst's papers called on broadcasters to police themselves, lest the government step in, as Iowa Senator Clyde L. Herring proposed a bill that would have required all programming to be reviewed by the FCC prior to broadcast (he never actually introduced it). Others blamed the radio audience for its credulity. Noting that any intelligent listener would have realized the broadcast was fictional, the Chicago Tribune opined, “it would be more tactful to say that some members of the radio audience are a trifle retarded mentally, and that many a program is prepared for their consumption.” Other newspapers took pains to note that anxious listeners had called their offices to learn whether Martians were really attacking. Few contemporary accounts exist outside newspaper coverage of the mass panic and hysteria supposedly induced by the broadcast. Justin Levine, a producer at KFI-AM in Los Angeles, wrote in a 2000 history of the FCC's response to hoax broadcasts that "the anecdotal nature of such reporting makes it difficult to objectively assess the true extent and intensity of the panic. Bartholomew sees this as yet more evidence that the panic was predominantly a creation of the newspaper industry.
What a night. After the broadcast, as I tried to get back to the St. Regis where we were living, I was blocked by an impassioned crowd of news people looking for blood, and the disappointment when they found I wasn't hemorrhaging. It wasn't long after the initial shock that whatever public panic and outrage there was vanished. But, the newspapers for days continued to feign fury.
Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives - References - Netflix