Map Man

BBC 2 (2 series of 8 x 30 mins)

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Nicholas Crane maps the maps, talks the talk, and walks the walks of cartographic history.

Nicholas is a world map expert and one of Britain's foremost adventurers. In Map Man, he explores eight of the most ingenious, revolutionary and exciting maps in British cartographic history. In this engaging series, Nicholas Crane reminds us of a time when our knowledge of maps was far from commonplace as we go from the earliest and most mysterious map in the series, from the time of Chaucer, through to what has been described as "the most outstandingly successful practical map of all time" - The London Underground Map.

Armed with a combination of ancient drawings, modern carto-technology, and of course his trusty umbrella walking stick, Nick uses the tools of his trade to discover how mapmakers have charted mountains, shrunk oceans to measurable drops and reduced sprawling cities to navigable diagrams. Covering the whole of Britain by foot, horseback, four-wheel drive, bicycle, tube train, motorbike, canal-boat and sailing ketch, Nick circumnavigates Wales, treks Scottish peaks and Norfolk fens, tramps the Pennines, meanders through the West Country and burrows deep beneath London's City streets.

Nicholas Crane is a rare combination: he's an expert cartographer and an international explorer with a charisma that brings his personal obsession alive. In 1986 he was part of a two-man team which identified for the first time the geographical Pole of Inaccessibility in Central Asia. In 1992-3 he walked alone for 18 months along the entire mountain watershed of Europe, describing this epic adventure in his award-winning book Clear Waters Rising. His next book, Two Degrees West, was an account of his walk down Britain's central meridian, and was published to great acclaim in 1999. Nicholas' most recent book was his biography of the world's first modern, scientific cartographer, the Flemish-born, 16th-century genius Gerard Mercator. Mercator: The Man Who Mapped the Planet, was published in 2002.

"The wider philosophy of mapmaking gives Crane and his series their unique appeal. And to do so in the space of just 30 minutes; now that, too, is a thing of wonder."

Gerard O'Donovan - Daily Telegraph