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The Search for the Nile 

The Nile's source was the last great mystery for European explorers in the 19th century. The story of its discovery is one of heroism in the service of faith, greed, and obsession.




Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »


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Series cast summary:
Kenneth Haigh ...  Sir Richard F. Burton 6 episodes, 1971
James Mason ...  Narrator 6 episodes, 1971
John Quentin John Quentin ...  John Hanning Speke 4 episodes, 1971
Barbara Leigh-Hunt ...  Isabel Arundell / ... 4 episodes, 1971
Andre Van Gyseghem Andre Van Gyseghem ...  Sir Roderick Murchison 4 episodes, 1971
Seth Adagala Seth Adagala ...  Bombay 3 episodes, 1971
Michael Gough ...  David Livingstone 3 episodes, 1971
Ian McCulloch ...  Capt. James Grant 3 episodes, 1971


The Nile's source was the last great mystery for European explorers in the 19th century. The story of its discovery is one of heroism in the service of faith, greed, and obsession. Written by Cleo <frede005@maroon.tc.umn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

tv mini series | See All (1) »


Adventure | Drama







Release Date:

25 January 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alla scoperta delle sorgenti del Nilo See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(6 episodes)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Top quality series, filmed on location, of the explorations seeking the sources of the Nile.
1 December 2007 | by carayfieldSee all my reviews

Why on earth is this title not on DVD? I sometimes think the BBC keeps a lot of its films in a big barrel and only takes them from the top. The ones at the bottom never get a turn! If they do not intend to use it may I buy it?

It's hard to convey in words the feel of this series. It covers the stories of the explorations in quite a succinct but detailed way. It takes you into the continent with the main, and vivid, characters of the time, showing their journeys, intellectual arguments. It shows what they found there, from slave traders to powerful local kings. The main explorers include Livingstone (an explorer despite his missionary anti-slaver status), HM Stanley, R Burton, Speke, Grant, Mr and Mrs Baker travelling down the Nile through the Sud, and so on.

It is beautifully written, filmed and presented, covering a story that is hard to imagine could have a parallel today. It's difficult to understand the combination of enterprise, bravery, erudition and determination of those explorers. The more one gets into the subject the more interesting it becomes. I've read a lot about it since seeing the film and soon after lived in many of the regions covered.

The film captures a real essence of what it was. This film, of the highest standard,is surely what the BBC was meant to be about, leadership in quality. It's a shame it's not been made available but lies buried somewhere at the BBC. If you want to watch a very intelligent, top rate film about white man's early contacts with Africa and about the biggest mystery facing the first European exploration of the central areas of the continent, then this is a key film. I cannot think of a comparable film. Try to see it or request it! You won't be sorry.

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