Named after Lucretius' Epicurean epic Dē rērum nātūrā, The Nature of Things continues to teach the willing and infuriate the ignorant. going strong at 46 years, it is CBC's longest-running television program, and continues to be an important contribution to our nation's cultural life.
For instance, a recent episode featured Dr. Mark Winston of Simon Fraser University talking about bees, and the intersection of his scientific work with that of an artist, Aganetha Dyck, who used bees in her practice.
It was a busy show. There was plenty of scientific discussion, like how half the honey bees in Canada died last year. (Funny this doesn't make the news, given just how important bees are in pollinating crops and supporting our ecosystem.) However, the spotlight was on Dr. Winston, also known as the Bee Man, and his tremendous work as an apiary advocate.
It was the character study of a man of science exploring how the artistic practice could contribute to scientific inquiry and vice versa. And, at the height of his powers, it turns out he's leaving the lab and pursuing other personal interests. In short, it was positively gripping television.
It sounds strange, perhaps, that a biologist who works with bees would be such powerful stuff, but it was. The Nature of Things is documentary filmaking at its finest, and we are lucky to have it.
The Nature of Things broadcasts during the summer on Sundays and Wednesdays.