Among the many scientists discussed in the series are some of the most controversial like Charles Darwin, some of the lesser known like James Clark Maxwell, theoreticians like Hawking, and practical innovators like Isambard Brunel. Whenever possible they are sure to include any significant elements of human interest like controversies about the suicide of Alan Turing or the effect of Alfred Russell Wallace's independently developed ideas on natural selection and the origin of species had on Darwin. Unlike many talking heads, the presenters—including David Attenborough, James Dyson and Kathy Sykes--are lively and dynamic; they are animated and their enthusiasm for their subject is obvious.
The Stephen Hawking DVD which attempts to explain Hawking's search for a theory of everything is quite a bit more complex than the material from the other series. Valiant attempts are made to explain things like black holes and string theory, but I must admit, that they soared over the head of this viewer. More often than not I found myself more concerned with the mechanics of the man's life than his ideas. Watching young scientists fill chalk boards with equations that have absolutely no meaning for one, can certainly take one down a peg. Still, there is something to be gained in getting a handle on your own lacunae. It's time to get a hold of a copy of A Brief History of Time and see what I have been missing.
Indeed, this may be the best thing about the series in general. It is a testament to both man's curiosity and man's willingness to keep plugging away until that curiosity is satisfied. It is the kind of documentary that may well create an itch to investigate further even amongst the scientifically challenged. Genius of Britain is an impressive documentary well worth the time of anyone interested in learning something about some of the greatest scientific contributions, not only of the British, but of mankind, as well.