Sir Joseph Banks, naturalist, explorer, collector, patron and President of the Royal Society for more than 40 years was one of Australia’s founding fathers, and among the most outstanding figures of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He rose to lasting renown when, as a young botanist, he accompanied Captain Cook on his circumnavigation and voyage of discovery to The South Seas, and yet a true picture of Banks’s life has never emerged nor an appreciation of his enduring importance.
In this first ever television documentary of Banks’ life, journalist Ian Cross explores his influence over five decades during a critical period of great change in the world, from 1770 to 1820.In five half hour programmes, The Lost World of Joseph Banks, uncovers the relationships, achievements and controversies associated with this enigmatic figure.
Banks was instrumental in establishing Kew Gardens as the greatest botanical centre in the world, and he used his influence and friendship with King George the 3rd, and in society, to further the careers of many navigators, explorers and naturalists including William Bligh and Matthew Flinders.
Far from being merely the Colossus of Science traditionally imagined, Joseph Banks true genius lay in promoting the enthusiasms of others. His legacy survives not only in his collections, notably his magnificent Herbarium and Florilegium both housed in the Natural History Museum in London, the record of his botanizing in the South Seas, but in his pivotal role in the founding of Australia first as a convict settlement and its development as a British colony.