Horizon: Season 23, Episode 16

The Race for the Double Helix (14 Sep. 1987)
"Life Story" (original title)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, History
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Watson and Crick race to find the structure of DNA before Linus Pauling, Maurice Wilkins, or Rosalind Franklin can find the key to unlocking the secret.



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Title: The Race for the Double Helix (14 Sep 1987)

The Race for the Double Helix (14 Sep 1987) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Betsy Brantley ...
Elizabeth Watson
John Moreno ...
Vittorio Luzzati
Daniel André Pageon ...
First Colleague
Yves Aubert ...
Second Colleague
Anthony Benson ...
Clive Panto ...
Max Perutz
Rupert Massey ...
John Kendrew
Geoffrey Chater ...
Nicholas Fry ...
Tom McCabe ...
Bill Seeds
Petronella Ford ...
Odile Crick


Watson and Crick race to find the structure of DNA before Linus Pauling, Maurice Wilkins, or Rosalind Franklin can find the key to unlocking the secret. Written by Kathy Li

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Release Date:

14 September 1987 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Was originally shown as a "Horizon special" on the BBC, Horizon being the name of BBC2's main science programme. See more »


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User Reviews

Francis Crick's comments
1 September 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The late Francis Crick said: "In spite of the intention to soft pedal the science, a surprisingly large amount has been included... It is obviously unfair to criticise the BBC for not achieving complete accuracy... What Life Story was trying to do was to get over the general nature of the discovery and how it was received... The ending was distorted to make a theatrical climax whereas Watson & I were worried that it might all be wrong and we had again made fools of ourselves...I think Jeff Goldblum is too manic as Jim Watson and far too interested in girls... Mick Jackson complained to me that no-one had told him that Jim didn't chew gum...Jim's natural manner was more subdued. Goldblum caught it rather well in the costume party scene when he is asked whether he is a real vicar. His American questioner quizzed him for half an hour about the upbringing of her children and was rather cross when she eventually discovered he was not a vicar at all... The other actors were all immediately recognisable as the people they portrayed... The key performance is by Juliet Stevenson. Her comments show that she had a real insight into Rosalind's character... The film gets over the obvious fact that scientific research is performed by human beings with no trace of the stereotyped emotionless scientist...It tells a good story at a good pace so that people from all walks of life can enjoy it and absorb some of its lessons. All in all, Life Story must be considered a success. In other hands it could easily have been nothing quite as good." End of quote

and I think it is brilliant!

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