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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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 630 users  
Reviews: 27 user

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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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?


Jeff Goldblum, who portrays James D. Watson, later narrated the 5-episode documentary series "D.N.A.,"(2003), the first episode of which, "The Secret of Life," retold the same events portrayed in this film, following James D. Watson to original locations at Cambridge and King's College, and also featuring some of the original figures, such as Maurice Wilkins, Erwin Chargaff, Raymond Gosling, and Peter Pauling. See more »


Watson: Gotta get famous.
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Grande Chorale
Georges Delerue
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User Reviews

One of the greatest BBC films of all time!
7 August 2004 | by (Grays Harbor, Washington) – See all my reviews

I could not disagree more strongly with the previous reviewer. I don't know that I've enjoyed any movie I've been forced to watch at school. That aside, this is a fantastic film about one of the watershed scientific discoveries of the 20th century. "Race For The Double Helix" is just that, a fantastic race to see who will discover the "secret of the gene." Jeff Goldblum and Tim Piggot-Smith are outstanding as Crick and Watson--the team that eventually goes on to build the model of DNA--but it is Alan Howard and Juliet Stevenson that really steal the show in portraying the relationship between Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin. Anyone who loves history, or science with be enthralled. The French dialoge adds a terrific touch of realism and the period is depicted with tremendous detail. I call this the "Rocky" film for science geeks, but it is so much more, a fascinating look at a real scientific discovery. Outstanding. 10/10

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