"Neanderthal" premieres

Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 10/9c

About the Show

Eight years ago there was an incredible breakthrough: The Neanderthal genome was first decoded. The greatest surprise was that most modern humans have inherited Neanderthal DNA and there is around two percent of their DNA insideeveryone from outside sub-Saharan Africa. These genes have helped shape modern humans into what we are today and continue to affect us. So what kind of people were our ancient ancestors?

This two-part series investigates what they looked like and what would have happened when we met them. It turns out that what we thought we knew about them is wrong. They weren’t hunched, grunting, knuckle-dragging ape-men at all. In a reconstructed, imaginary confrontation, we discover they were faster, smarter, better looking and much more like us than we ever thought. 

Our guide is Ella Al-Shamahi, a young British rising star in Neanderthal research, with an unusual side-line as a stand-up comic. She enlists the skills of Andy Serkis, theglobal movie star and master of performance capture, best known as Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" and Caesar in "Planet of the Apes," who uses his Hollywood magic to, for the first time ever, create a scientifically accurate 3D working avatar of a real Neanderthal. 

In Andy Serkis’ studio, Ella brings together a core group of experts from all over the world – our Key Investigating Scientists - who are at the cutting edge of Neanderthal research. They help Andy to translate the very latest Neanderthal science into digital design. Ella also gathers evidence by pursuing leads across the globe, meeting leading experts in their labs and at significant sites of Neanderthal discovery, from Iraqi Kurdistan to Gibraltar. Across the two shows, the scientists reveal ground-breaking discoveries about Neanderthal appearance, anatomy, movement, brain function, child development, diet, health and culture. 

Read more about the episodes below. 

A Closer Look at "Neanderthal"

More About the Episodes

Episode 1 (Premiere Date: Oct. 17, 2018) 

Ella Al-Shamahi, a rising star in Neanderthal research, enlists the skills of Andy Serkis, the master of performance capture, and a group of experts to create, for the first time ever, a scientifically accurate 3D Neanderthal. They discover that Neanderthals were more like us than we ever thought.

Episode 2 (Premiere Date: Oct. 24, 2018) 

For around 400,000 years Neanderthals live and thrived right across Europe and Western Europe. But about 40,000 years ago they disappeared. In this second episode in the series, Ella Al-Shamahi - with the help of Hollywood actor Andy Serkis - explores the fate of the Neanderthals, asking why they became extinct, and discovering how they live on inside of us today.

"Neanderthal" was produced by VIXPIX Films Limited.

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