Decadence: The Meaninglessness of Modern Life (2006)

Decadence: The Meaninglessness of Modern Life is a six part television documentary series commissioned by SBS Independent and produced by Fork Films. The series is hosted by Pria Viswalingam, who is best known for his work on the travel show A fork in the road. Decadence was originally broadcast on the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) of Australia in 2006 in the form of six, thirty minute long episodes (including advertisements). It was rescreened again in 2007 as part of the SBS season on globalisation.

The series examines the decadence and meaninglessness of modern, western life. It is also poses the question: If we live in such a great and prosperous world, and we are living longer, better, and healthier than before, why are we so unhappy?. There are interviews with many prominent experts and leaders in their fields throughout the series.








Faith of the Century: A History of Communism (1999)

Communism spread to all of the continents of the word, lasting through four generations and over seven decades. Hundreds of millions of men and women were affected by this political system, one of the most unjust and bloodiest in history.

Using newly discovered propaganda films and archival photos, this comprehensive documentary explores the complexities of an ideology that seduced its ardent followers like some earthly religion.

“…invites the viewer to think about the role that images played in the strength of these regimes…” (Le Monde).

Utopia in Power (1917-1928)

This volume covers 1900 to 1928, a period which saw the death of Lenin, the creation of the KGB and the coming to power of Stalin.

The Two Faces of Communism (1929-1939)

This episode includes Stalin’s purge, Communism the defender of democracy, the great famine of the Ukraine and the Spanish civil war.

The Peak Years (1940-1953)

This episode includes the defeat of Germany, the take over of Eastern Europe, the Korean War and the Cold War.

End Without End (1953-1999)

This episode includes Stalin’s death and Krushchev taking power, uprisings crushed in East Germany and Hungary, the propaganda of the space race, Castro taking over Cuba, Vietnam, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unleashing of freedom, the remnants of a discredited philosophy.


The Truth About Personality (2013)

Michael Mosley explores the latest science about how our personalities are created – and whether they can be changed.

Despite appearances, Mosley is a pessimist who constantly frets about the future. He wants to worry less and become more of an optimist.

He tries out two techniques to change this aspect of his personality – with surprising results.

And he travels to the frontiers of genetics and neuroscience to find out about the forces that shape all our personalities.

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Chinese Dream aka Education, Education (2012)

What does an education get you?

In a meritocracy, education is one sure route out of poverty. But can everybody succeed in modern China?

How do you choose a college when you’re the first person in your family who can read? Or pay for it when 4 years of schooling costs sixty years of income? What is it like to join the “ant-tribe”, the 2 million newly graduated Chinese who, every year, can’t find work?  And what if the only job you could find involved selling education to other students, even if you knew it was worthless?

Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” but is its value undermined when, like in China, it becomes a commodity?

Fracking: The New Energy Rush (2013)

Iain Stewart investigates a new and controversial energy rush for the natural gas found deep underground. Sometimes, this is right under the places people live in. Getting it out of the ground involves hydraulic fracturing – or fracking.

Iain travels to America to find to find out what it is, why it is a potential game changer and what we can learn from the US experience. He meets some of the people who have become rich from fracking as well as the communities worried about the risks.


The Secret Life of Rubbish (2012)

With tales from old binmen and film archive that has never been broadcast before, this two-part series offers an original view of the history of modern Britain – from the back end where the rubbish comes out.

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The first programme deals with the decades immediately after the Second World War. 90-year-old Ernie Sharp started on the bins when he was demobbed from the army in 1947, and household rubbish in those days was mostly ash raked out of the fire-grate. That’s why men like Ernie were called ‘dust’men.

But the rubbish soon changed. The Clean Air Act got rid of coal fires so there was less ash. Then supermarkets arrived, with displays of packaged goods. And all that packaging went in the bin.

In the 1960s consumerism emerged. Shopping for new things became a national enthusiasm. It gave people the sense that their lives were improving and kept the economy going. And as the binmen recall, the waste stream became a flood.

As the programme sifts through the rubbish of the mid-20th century, we discover how the Britain of Make Do and Mend became a consumer society.

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The second programme deals with the 1970s and 1980s, when two big ideas emerged in the waste management industry.

The first was privatisation of public services. We meet Ian Ross, who made millions by taking over the refuse collection contract from the council that had once employed him as a binman. ‘It was scary’, Ian Ross admits, ‘but you have one chance don’t you, and you’ve got to take it.’

The other idea that emerged was environmentalism. Ron England goes back to the supermarket car park in Barnsley, South Yorkshire where he set up the world’s first bottle bank. ‘Everyone said I was a crank’, recalls Ron.

But the waste stream continued to expand. This was great news for the Earls of Aylesford. The present Earl shows how his palace was saved with money earned from the enormous landfill in the grounds.

This is the story of a society hooked on wastefulness – and of the people who clear up the mess.