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The Secret Life of Lighthouses   

Series 1: 3x60 | HD | 2020
Production Company
October Films
Primary Broadcaster
Channel 5

Presenter Rob Bell takes us on a voyage around Britain and Ireland to reveal the hidden secrets that make offshore lighthouses such extraordinary feats of engineering.

Braving the awesome might of the North Atlantic to the tempestuous moods of the North Sea, Rob takes a look behind closed doors to crack the code of these of these enigmatic structures. Along the way, he meets local fishermen and lighthouse keepers to hear stories of ship wrecks, disasters averted and lives saved. Engineers, authors and historians give us in-depth insight into the pioneering innovations, feats of endurance and ingenious techniques that propelled offshore lighthouses to the cutting edge of scientific and technological advances.

Each episode is led by an iconic lighthouse with its feet in a different sea, as Rob takes a tour of the unique challenges that were to be overcome around our coastline. In some of the worst storms of recent years, Rob sees for himself how these stoic monoliths were built in some of the most inhospitable environments on earth.

Episode 3: The Fastnet Rock

Rob Bell explores the wild and beautiful southern coast of Ireland to reveal why Fastnet is regarded as the most stunning rock lighthouse ever built. But “Ireland’s Teardrop” is also witness to dramatic stories of tragedy and heroism, where the keepers faced up to the terrifying forces of nature knowing that “One day, Mother Nature will win”. Along his journey through the 1500-year legacy of lightkeeping in Ireland, Rob gets to grips with explosives, man-made lightning, and traditional Irish folk music to show us how Fastnet represents the pinnacle of centuries of lighthouse building endeavour.

Episode 2: Bell Rock

Rob Bell explores the rugged east coast of Scotland to discover how the Bell Rock lighthouse earned its reputation as a wonder of the industrial world. Rob sees why, over 200 years ago, building on a rock that was 11 miles offshore in the North Sea was like landing on the moon in the 1960’s. Rob demonstrates the historic machinery and scientific advances pioneered by engineer Robert Stevenson, genius founder of a legendary dynasty of lighthouse builders. Stevenson’s legacy is completed by moving stories from the brave men who kept his lighthouse running, enduring incredible isolation and hardship to save countless lives.

Episode 1: The Eddystone Rock

Rob Bell explores the historic but deadly southwest coast of England to discover what made the world’s first rock lighthouse on Eddystone reef such a monumental achievement over 300 years ago. Nine miles off Plymouth in rough seas, Rob shows why the reef claimed so many lives and brought any attempt to build there to a catastrophic end. Epic stories of shipwrecks, storms and fire reveal how the first madcap geniuses conquered the reef.