Humans will need to colonise another planet within one hundred years to ensure our survival, according to Professor Stephen Hawking.
The astrophysicist has made a new documentary, Expedition New Earth, as part of the BBC’s new science season Tomorrow’s World. In it he will claim that time is running out for Earth and if humanity is to survive climate change, asteroid strikes, epidemics and overpopulation we will need to leave our planet and venture further afield.
In the landmark series, Prof Hawking and his former student Christophe Galfard will travel the world to find out how humans could live in outer space.
It is 14 years since the BBC cancelled its future-gazing series Tomorrow’s World after 38 years on air, but the corporation and the scientists involved promise the new season will be even better.
Prof Brian Cox, the astrophysicist and TV presenter who has been helping curate the series, said: “The original Tomorrow’s World inspired a generation – it certainly inspired me back in the 1970s, but that was a single TV programme.
“The 21st century Tomorrow’s World represents so much more – it represents the institutions of Britain coming together to inspire current and future generations, to convince them to embrace the opportunities that science brings, to foster a spirit of curiosity and tolerance, and to embrace the unknown not in fear but in wonder.”
The BBC has joined forces with the Royal Society, Open University, London’s Science Museum and the Wellcome Trust, to "connect audiences with the brightest minds and institutions in science and technology".
“We’ve come together behind a simple, and very bold ambition – to equip all of us with the knowledge and understanding we need to make sense of our lives and the future,” said Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC.
“Whether it’s the rise of robotics or the demise of antibiotics, travelling to Mars or the arrival of 3D printed food, science is changing the world at an extraordinary pace.”
The season will aim to find Britain’s greatest invention, by asking the public to vote on the innovation which has been the most influential in their lives.
Dr Hannah Fry, of UCL, will present 10 Things You Need To Know About The Future on BBC Two, while a brand new medical series Operation will follow the pioneering work taking place in the operating theatres of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, where surgeons are pushing the boundaries of medical science.
A separate programme, Toughest Job In The Universe, will follow 12 men and women as they undergo the rigours of astronaut selection. Former astronaut and International Space Station commander Chris Hadfield will lead the selection process based on space agencies’ application criteria.
In two controversial episodes, BBC Horizon will also explore the science of changing gender and whether it is possible to cure a psychopath.
Angela Rippon and Dr Chris van Tulleken will return to BBC One for the second series of How To Stay Young, in which they and a team of experts apply scientific knowledge to help volunteers slow down the ageing process
Sarah Montague will also be interviewing pioneers in health, technology, science and environment for the Radio 4 series The Innovators.