Alfred Russel Wallace, Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero

Alfred Russel Wallace, Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero

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To begin with I should mention that this program is ridiculously amazing as Bill Bailey never quite knows what he’s doing but somehow he entertains you.

For those of you who have not seen it yet I should remind you that this is not a comedy but it is funny! Jungle Hero is an adventurous historical scientific TV series taking you through astonishing diverse locations each episode, aimed to reveal you an important forgotten history bout the theory of evolution.

Jungle Hero starts when you see Bill Dressing as a Victorian Naturalist; in a cream suit and Panama hat, with a local carrying his heavy, old-fashioned suitcase; taking you through a journey of natural exploitation starting from South East Asia in the footsteps of Alfred Russell Wallace who was the first to synthesize the great theory of evolution.

Yes you heard it right, in fact Alfred Wallace was the first to come up with theory of Evolution and this is exactly the key core of this program. Bill Bailey believes that Wallace, who came up with the theory of evolution through natural selection independently of Charles Darwin, has been unfairly forgotten.

Therefore he’s on a mission to have him re-remembered. And that means heading east in his footsteps to the islands of Indonesia.

1853_PalmTrees_S713_fig194Baileys emphasis for reminding us of who Wallace was derives from the incredible personality that he was and the amount of work he has put into understanding evolution and yet no one knows anything of him. Wallace unlike Darwin did not come from a rich family; in fact he was very poor and was born when his family could no longer afford to stay in London and moved near the Welsh boarder in Kensington Cottage on 8 January 1823.

Wallace, who joined his brother later on back in London, spent his London evenings in an educational “Hall of science” for working men where he became influenced by was deeply impressed by Owen’s utopian social ideals. In 1843 his father died. With a decline in the demand for surveyors William (Wallace’s brother) no longer had sufficient work to employ Wallace. After a brief period of unemployment in early 1844 Wallace worked for over a year as a teacher at the Collegiate School at Leicester.


1905_MylifeDuring this time, Wallace also read the hugely controversial and anonymous book Vestiges of the natural history of creation in 1845. Vestiges‘ argued for the progressive physical “development” of nature and species over time in a progressive, upward direction.

In 1848-1852 Wallace who red a recent book by American traveler William Edwards: A voyage up the river Amazon, including a residence at Para, sailed for Brazil.


In 1854 to 1862 Wallace again set off for the tropics to work as a specimen collector and headed to South East Asia.

Over the next eight years Wallace made dozens of expeditions and amassed a massive collection of 125,000 specimens of insects, birds, mammals and so forth. Wallace discovered hundreds of new species including the world’s largest bee and rarest cat!. In October 1858 Wallace prepared a brief note ‘Direction for Collecting in the Tropics’ for other collectors which give some insights into his career as a collector.

However the thing that impresses Bill Bailey most about Alfred Wallace was the fact that not only he was a naturalist but also an artist and a collector. He has made phenomenal drawings and collections throughout his life on every single place that he journeyed and every single thing he studied.