Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World
was an acclaimed thirteen part television series looking at unexplained phenomena from around the world. It was first broadcast in September 1980 in the UK
by independent television network ITV
Each program is introduced and book-ended by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke in short sequences filmed in Sri Lanka. However, the bulf of the episodes are narrated by Gordon Honeycombe. The series was produced by John Fanshawe, John Fairley and directed by Peter Jones, Michael Weigall and Charles Flynn. It also featured a unique soundtrack composed by British artist Alan Hawkshaw.
In 1981, Book Club Associates published a hardcover book with the same name, authored by Fairley and Welfare, where the contents of the show were further explored. It featured an introduction written by Sir Arthur as well as his remarks at the end of each chapter or topic. In 1985, a paperback of this book was released by HarperCollins Publishers.
The series was followed by Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers in 1985 and Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Universe in 1994.
In January 2008 the original series was released on DVD in the UK
by Network and Granada. It features all of the 13 original episodes unedited and remastered in Digital Quality.
This episode introduces the themes that are explored in the remainder of the series. Clarke expounds on his categorisation of mysteries, self-consciously aping the famous 'close encounters
' categorisation used by some UFOlogists
- Mysteries of the First Kind - phenomena which were a mystery to our ancestors but that are now well understood. Clarke ilustrates this mystery by attending a total eclipse of the sun in rural India, highlighting the fact that this is still treated with reverence and suspicion in some cultures.
- Mysteries of the Second Kind - phenomena which are as yet unexplained, but where we have several clues that hint at an answer. Examples given in the program include ball lightning and the vitrified forts of Scotland.
- Mysteries of the Third Kind - phenomena to which we have "no rational explanation". Clarke lists psychic phenomena as something that would be classed in this category.
Including the Giant squid
, giant octopus
and megamouth shark
This show is concerned with technology from history that was either ahead of its time and subsequently forgotten, or artefacts which are mysteries in themselves. This includes the Baghdad battery
, where German scientist Arne Eggebrecht is shown electroplating a small silver statue with a gold cynanide solution and a replica of the battery using grape juice. There are also segments on the Antikythera Mechanism
(including an interview with Derek J. de Solla Price
), the Stone Balls of Costa Rica
and the so-called 'Skull of Doom
' which famously dominates the opening credits of the series.
Clarke opines at the end that had some of these forgotten technologies been developed and not lost that we would have 'colonised the stars' by now.
This episode is divided equally between considering evidence for the Bigfoot
. Interviewees for the segment on the Yeti include Don Whillans
and Eric Shipton
. Lengthy consideration is given to the Patterson-Gimlin film
, and interviewees include Grover Krantz
- who demonstrates several casts of alleged Bigfoot tracks that he feels bolsters his belief that the creature represents a relative of Gigantopithecus
Clarke concludes that, although Russian scientists who studied the Patterson-Gimlin film declared the stride to be 'quite inhuman', special effects used in 2001 showed that it is possible to create very convincing ape-men. He also notes that it would be very difficult for a creature such as Bigfoot to remain undetected in North America.
About the Cerne Abbas giant
, Nazca lines
The Great Siberian Explosion - October 14, 1980
The Riddle of the Stones - October 21, 1980
and other megalithic structures, such as Stonehenge
Discussing ice falls, frog falls etc
Including the Robert Taylor incident
and an interview with Kenneth Arnold
Dragons, Dinosaurs and Giant Snakes - November 11, 1980
Including lost planets such as Vulcan
, the Martian canals
Clarke's Cabinet of Curiosities - November 25, 1980
including the moving stones of Death Valley