Presenter Alan Yentob meets clinical neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks to investigate the myriad ways we experience the visual world and the strange things that can happen when our mind fails to understand what our eyes see. In the course of this investigation, Yentob tells the life story of Dr Oliver Sacks, the man who would become one of the world's most famous scientists.
Alan delves into this world by going to meet several of the case studies from Sacks latest book, The Mind's Eye.
He meets Stereo Sue, neurobiologist Sue Barry, who always saw the world as a flat 2D image until she suddenly acquired stereoscopic 3D vision in her late forties; Canadian crime writer Howard Engel, the man who forgot how to read, who remarkably continues to write despite a stroke that destroyed his reading ability; Chuck Close, the renowned portrait artist, who cannot recognise or remember faces and Danny Delcambre, an extraordinary and spirited man who, although having a condition which means he was born deaf and is gradually going blind, lives life to the full and uses close-up photography to record the world around him.
Often overlapping with these case studies is Sacks' own story. Here, doctor and patient combine as he talks about his childhood, his own struggle with face blindness, and the loss he felt when eye cancer recently destroyed his 3D vision.
Alan Yentob visits Egypt's National Museum, possibly the most precious museum in the world, with its dust-covered collection of thousands upon thousands of priceless ancient antiquities.
The museum was caught up in the revolution on Cairo's Tahrir Square, standing right at the centre of the action. Its precious cargo was looted, and young revolutionaries formed a cordon around it to protect it.
The museum is the heart of Egypt, containing the key not just to the country's past but to its future, offering inspiration and hope. Alan discovers that the pharaohs were not the slave-drivers of Hollywood legend, and that 4,000 years ago there was another revolution, foreshadowing today's, and even a goddess of social justice.
With Omar Sharif and novelist Ahdaf Soueif.
Alan Yentob introduces Michael Epstein's film uncovering John Lennon and Yoko Ono's move to New York City, as Lennon sought to escape the mayhem of the Beatles era and focus on his family and private life. It was in New York that Lennon created some of his most famous work, writing most of his songs in his apartment at The Dakota on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Revealing the tumultuous life of one of the world's most famous couples as they adjusted to life in the Big Apple, the film charts the ups and downs of their creative and personal lives - including their battle against the immigration services, and Lennon's infamous "lost weekend".
Michael Epstein's documentary also features never-before-heard studio recordings from the Double Fantasy sessions, and never-before-seen outtakes from Lennon in concert and his home movies.
The film includes exclusive interviews with Yoko Ono and with artists who worked closely with Lennon during this period, including Elton John and photographer Bob Gruen.
Alan Yentob introduces John Scheinfeld's documentary Harry Nilsson - The Missing Beatle, a film that tells the story of the riotous life and music of Harry Nilsson.
Nilsson, a friend and hero of Lennon's, was one of the most successful and influential, but least known, songwriters of his generation. He is remembered as much for his wild lifestyle as for his outstanding performance of Everybody's Talkin' from the movie soundtrack Midnight Cowboy.
The film showcases new and archived audio and film, including home movies, music videos, promotional films and segments from the unreleased documentary made during the recording of Son Of Schmilsson, Did Somebody Drop His Mouse? The film also features interviews with Robin Williams, Yoko Ono, Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman, Ray Cooper, the Smothers Brothers and Micky Dolenz.
Iraq and art are not words that usually go together. Yet this year, for the first time since Saddam Hussein's rise to power some 35 years ago, Iraq has a presence at the Venice Biennale - the show that is theCannes Film Festival or the Olympics of the international art world calendar.
Thousands of years ago, Iraq was the cradle of civilisation - Mesopotamia, the 'land between two rivers' - the Garden of Eden. Decades of despotism, destruction and despair have stifled its art, but now, despite all the dangers and difficulties, art is re-emerging.
Jill Nicholls' film tells the moving stories of six Iraqi artists, all scattered around the world, and follows them as they prepare their work for Venice. The artists include Halim Al Karim, who survived for three years in a hole in the desert, escaping conscription into the Iran Iraq war; as well as Walid Siti, dreaming of the mountains of Kurdistan in his East London studio and going back to Iraq to gather images for his work. Also Ali Assaf, poetically evoking his home town of Basra back in the days when it was called the Venice of the East; and Ahmed Al Soudani, whose visceral paintings of violence and chaos sell for six-figure sums.
The theme of this Iraqi show is not war but water - 'wounded water'. There is a water shortage crisis looming - already a litre of drinking water costs as much in Iraq as a litre of oil. The artists explore this issue through contaminated dates (once the pride of Basra, until Saddam deliberately destroyed 20 million date palms), dried-up waterfalls in Kurdistan (the fountainhead on which all of Iraq depends), and outsize taps looming over piles of plastic bottles. But the work is always imaginative, never just didactic.
This is an epoch-making event in the history of a war-torn country. The film opens a new window on that world, seeing it through the eyes of artists who have been torn away from it.
Nearly 30 years after her triumphant debut novel, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson returns with Alan Yentob to the scenes of her extraordinary childhood in Lancashire. She was adopted andbrought up to be a missionary by the larger-than-life Mrs Winterson. But Jeanette followed a different path: she found literature, fell in love with a girl, and escaped to university.
Following her recent memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, Jeanette Winterson tells the story of her recent breakdown and suicide attempt, her quest to find her birth mother and how the power of books helped her to survive.
Matthew Bourne is Britain's most commercially successful choreographer. A virtuoso storyteller, he famously reimagined the traditional Swan Lake ballet with muscular male swans, instantly creating a worldwide hit. Now he is reinterpreting Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty.
imagine... and Alan Yentob have exclusive access to the creative process, from first workshops to final rehearsals with set and costumes, and the programme revisits Bourne's many ground-breaking shows to chart his inexorable rise.