Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World was a British TV series first broadcast in late 1980. Presented by that great Science Fiction writer (and second-best science writer), The series explores Fortean phenomena and one or two historical mysteries. The series is available on DVD.


First broadcast weekly from 2 september 1980 on ITV

  1. "The Journey Begins" - this episode introduces the themes that are explored in the remainder of the series. Clarke expounds on his categorisation of mysteries, following the famous 'close encounters' categorisation used by some ufologists: Mysteries of the First Kind - phenomena which were a mystery to our ancestors but that are now well understood. Clarke illustrates this mystery by attending a total eclipse of the sun in rural India, highlighting the fact that this is still treated with reverence and suspicion in some cultures. Mysteries of the Second Kind - phenomena which are as yet unexplained, but where we have several clues that hint at an answer. Examples given in the program include ball lightning and the vitrified forts of Scotland. these mysteries form the bulk of the series's content. Mysteries of the Third Kind - phenomena to which we have "no rational explanation". Clarke lists psychic phenomena as something that would be classed in this category.
  2. "Monsters of the Deep" - including the Giant squid, giant octopus and megamouth shark.
  3. "Ancient Wisdom" - this episode covers ancient technology - artefacts from history that were either ahead of their time and subsequently forgotten, or artefacts which are mysteries in themselves. This includes the Baghdad Battery, where German scientist Arne Eggebrecht is shown electroplating a small silver statue with a gold cyanide solution and a replica of the battery using grape juice. There are also segments on the Antikythera Mechanism (including an interview with Derek J. de Solla Price), the Stone spheres of Costa Rica and the famous Crystal_skull which graces the opening credits of the series. Also included are the vitrified stone forts of Scotland. Clarke opines at the end that had some of these forgotten technologies been developed and not lost that we would have 'colonised the stars' by now.
  4. "The Missing Apeman" - this episode is divided equally between considering evidence for the Bigfoot and Yeti. Interviewees for the segment on the Yeti include Don Whillans, Lord Hunt and Eric Shipton. Lengthy consideration is given to the Patterson-Gimlin film, and interviewees include Grover Krantz - who demonstrates several casts of alleged Bigfoot tracks that he feels bolsters his belief that the creature represents a relative of Gigantopithecus. Clarke concludes that, although Russian scientists who studied the Patterson-Gimlin film declared the stride to be 'quite inhuman', special effects used in 2001: A Space Oddysey showed that it is possible to create very convincing ape-men. He also notes that it would be very difficult for a creature such as Bigfoot to remain undetected in North America.
  5. "Giants for the Gods" - covers the Cerne Abbas giant, Nazca lines and others.
  6. "Monsters of the Lakes" - Nessie and Ogopogo.
  7. "The Great Siberian Explosion" - an episode-long investigation of the cause of the Tunguska explosion. The programme concluded that the explosion was caused by the impact of a comet fragment, or other ice-rich body, that exploded above the ground. The reasons given for this were the fact that there was no crater as might be expected had a stony or iron object been involved, and the heightened levels of rare earth elements discovered in the devastated environment afterwards.
  8. "The Riddle of the Stones" - covers Newgrange and other megalithic structures, such as Stonehenge and Avebury.
  9. "Out of the Blue" - ice falls, frog rains etc.
  10. "U.F.O.s" - including the Robert Taylor incident and an interview with Kenneth Arnold.
  11. "Dragons, Dinosaurs and Giant Snakes" - Mokele-mbembe, giant anacondas, Ameranthropoides loysi as well as sightings and excavations of animals such as the moa and the woolly mammoth. Includes interviews with Roy Mackal and James Powell.
  12. "Strange Skies" - lost planets such as Vulcan, the Martian canals, the identity of the Star of Bethlehem etc
  13. "Clarke's Cabinet of Curiosities" - a collection of unrelated subjects and a summing up. Including the sailing stones of Death Valley, the Almas, Entombed animals, and ball lightning.

Sequels and booksEdit

The series was followed in later years by the similarly-themed Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange powers (1985) and Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Universe (1994). Book tie-ins were released for all three series.