Comedian Bill Bailey tells – and joyfully re-enacts – the story of Alfred Russel Wallace, the “geeky Victorian collector” whom Bailey paints as the greatest naturalist of his era. Wallace’s role in working out how species evolved has been overshadowed by Darwin: each independently came up with the theory of evolution, but Wallace’s tireless efforts, collecting tens of thousands of specimens in the islands of what is now Indonesia, have been sidelined. Bailey wants him back in the pantheon, so he retraces Wallace’s steps and has fun catching frogs, meeting monkeys and eating toasted dragonflies. You can tell he’s in his element, crashing through jungles, wading in rivers, pinning butterflies to boards, and he makes it a delightful programme to watch – with a payload of fascinating history on a neglected hero.
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