Travel may be restricted, but with modern technology we can explore new worlds and cultures without leaving home. We’ve collated a list of thought-provoking, awe-inspiring documentaries showcasing our rich and diverse world - with these available, you never need to worry about losing your sense of wonder and curiosity.
Explained – Netflix (15+)
From the rise of cryptocurrency to why diets fail and the wild world of K-pop, Explained explores the modern human experience in succinct and entertaining 20-minute slices.
The Mind Explained - Netflix (12+)
The mind works in mysterious ways, but this limited series, narrated by actress Emma Stone, sets out to illuminate them. Topics include memory, anxiety, dreams and mindfulness.
Planet Earth II – Netflix, BBC iPlayer (6+)
David Attenborough’s instant-classic documentary series explores how animals meet the challenges of surviving in some of the world’s most iconic, and astonishing, environments.
Blue Planet II – Netflix, BBC iPlayer (7+)
Sir David takes us on another adventure, this time through the world’s beautifully diverse ocean landscapes - a voyage made all the more powerful by Attenborough’s exploration of climate change and the human threat to the ecosystems in our seas.
13th – Netflix (15+)
This Oscar-nominated, thought-provoking documentary explores why the US has the world’s highest incarceration rate, tracing a direct line from slavery to structural racism within the modern US justice system. Passionate, incendiary, infuriating, important.
8 Days: To the Moon and Back – BBC iPlayer (all ages)
This BBC dramatisation uses dramatic reconstruction, declassified cockpit audio recorded by the astronauts themselves and archival film to powerfully recreate the first moon landing, allowing viewers to full understand the achievement, and the risks, behind this pivotal moment in human history.
North Korea: Michael Palin’s Journey – My5, Sky Go (all ages)
National treasure Michael Palin travels to one of the world’s most mysterious countries. Behind the fiercely-kept secrecy and outlandish political propaganda, what is life really like for the citizens of North Korea?
Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates – Netflix (12)
This three-part documentary recounts the life story of the Microsoft co-founder as he uses his unique perspective to uncover solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems.
Visible: Out on Television – Apple TV+ (15+)
Stellar miniseries detailing the changing representations of LGBTQ+ people in television, both on-screen and behind the camera. Touching and empowering, the show features high profile interviews LGBTQ+ individuals and allies such as Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey and Neil Patrick Harris.
What Happened, Miss Simone? – Netflix (15+)
This powerful film follows the remarkable life of the legendary singer-songwriter Nina Simone - classically trained pianist, dive-bar chanteuse, black power icon and legendary recording artist.
Seven Worlds One Planet – BBC iPlayer (9+)
Sir David’s third appearance on this list is a majestic and compelling series that follows a vast array of creatures in their natural habitat. Eye-opening, surprising, delightful.