Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero

Sun Apr 21, 8-9pm, BBC2


Episode one
So who might this jungle hero be? Goldie? Ed Rush? General Levy? Nope. It’s Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, the Pete Best of evolutionary theory. Charles Darwin, with his influential but, as it turns out derivative ‘On the Origin of Species’, got all the glory. But Bill Bailey’s keen to celebrate this intrepid scientist who, while Darwin was swanning around the Galapagos islands, was going native in the jungles of Borneo, gorging himself on the stinky durian plant, being driven to distraction by the natives’ music and collecting thousands and thousands of insects.

Bailey makes the trip too, in considerably more comfort, one imagines. But still, he throws himself into the assignment with great enthusiasm; a dilettante, but a mightily enthusiastic and likeable one. Maybe he can finally secure Wallace the recognition he clearly deserves.

Comments

3 comments
George Beccaloni
George Beccaloni

In reply to Jerry's comments: yes, Darwin did discover natural selection before Wallace, but the point is that he only got around to publishing his idea as part of a co-authored paper with Wallace in 1858. Since the publication was co-authored, both Darwin and Wallace deserve equal credit for the idea. It's a no-brainer really! See my essay http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/tv/junglehero/alfred-wallace-biography.pdf

George Beccaloni
George Beccaloni

As the historical consultant to this series I can assure you that Bill is no "dilettante" when it comes to Wallace. Many presenters of TV programmes may indeed be dilettantes with respect to the subject matter they talk about, but Bill has real knowledge about Wallace, thanks to the keen personal interest he has in him.

Jerry Drawhorn
Jerry Drawhorn

Some serious errors in the above review. Darwin was in the Galapagos in 1835, some 20 years before Wallace was in the Malay Archipelago. Darwin had also written a much fuller draft of his theories of evolution and natural selection by 1844 (to be published if he died), and had largely completed his 3 volume "Natural Selection" (ten chapters which had already been sent to his editor) by the time that Wallace's brief essay appeared in his postbox. "Origin of Species" was derivative, perhaps, but not of Wallace...of Darwin's huge technical tome. Unlike many of his advocates today, Wallace always held that Darwin had preceded and had gone much farther in his work by the time Wallace had arrived independently at the mechanism of adaptive evolutionary change, Natural Selection.