A great piece of fiction offers an escape from your everyday life, whether it’s on the page or screen. A great piece of non-fiction lets you explore other lives, experiences, wonders, places, creatures and times — from hurtling hurricanes and historical fires to social crises and today’s royalty.
SBS On Demand’s documentary line-up offers plenty of the above. However, while such real-life tales and insights are available at the press of a button, they don’t last forever. These 10 documentaries will transport you into the world of cute cats all the way through to the debate surrounding one of today’s most controversial issues – and more.
But if they pique your interest, you’ll need to watch them before they disappear…
The Great Fire Of London - London Burns
Expires: July 24
It sounds like the plot of a disaster film — after a drought left London parched, a long hot summer literally set the city alight. It is, of course, a chapter of history that completely reshaped the British capital across five days in September 1666. In London Burns, the Great Fire of London combusts in an hour-by-hour examination. As well as visiting real-life sites, the documentary explores the reaction and the conditions that sparked such an enormous catastrophe, with up to 80,000 people estimated to have lost their homes.
The Great Fire Of London - Death And Destruction
Expires: July 24
In the second instalment of this intriguing and informative multi-part documentary, London still burns — and the reality of an entire city awash in flames inspires even more devastation. Viewers can follow the path of the fire throughout iconic buildings, as well as discover the aftermath, in what proves not only an exploration of a disaster but a mystery. On offer is the best of both worlds, especially for those fascinated by this momentous historical event.
Stacey Dooley: Gypsy Kids In Crisis
Expires: July 24
The current treatment of asylum-seeking children by the American government has monopolised news headlines for months, causing an outcry heard around the world. In Hungary, Roma kids are often put into the institutionalised care — in different circumstances, but with just as heartbreaking results. A clear-eyed look at a situation that shares still many similar factors with the US, this documentary investigates the reality on both sides of the child protection line, from the children and their families to the workers charged with managing their welfare.
The Great Fire Of London - A City Rebuilt
Expires: July 25
After delving into the origins of the blaze in London Burns and examining its horrific impact in Death and Destruction, A City Rebuilt — the third segment of The Great Fire of London documentary — tells the final part of the tale. It’s a chapter that puts the aftermath into context, while touching upon everyday aspects that viewers today mightn’t have otherwise considered and exploring the ideas about the fire that have sprung up in the centuries since. In other words, expect construction, controversial theories and challenging burn treatment methods.
Running Wild With Don Cheadle
Expires: July 25
Famous for playing everything from brave hotel owners to slick spin doctors to iconic musicians, Don Cheadle has two Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Grammy, an Oscar nomination and seven Emmy nominations to his name. But trekking his way through mountainous terrain might just rank among his toughest roles. He joins Bear Grylls for an excursion through the White Mountains of New England, and for a journey that’s as much about Cheadle’s experience in the wild as it is insights into his long-running career.
Secret Life Of The Cat
Expires: July 26
Cat lovers, rejoice — you’re about to discover just what happens when your favourite feline is left alone. When the humans are away, the cats will play according to a UK experiment, which used GPS trackers and cameras on collars to record the secret behaviour of moggies and mousers when people aren’t looking. For anyone with his or her own four-legged friend at home, it’s more riveting than any YouTube cat video or viral cat star. And, it should probably come with a warning — while you’ll be tempted, your cat won’t like it if you try the same thing at home.
Running Wild With Keri Russell
Expires: July 30
When Felicity, played by Keri Russell, cut her long, curly locks, it sparked as much attention as anything else in the college-set drama. Two decades later, Russell is now just as well known for her starring role on spy drama The Americans — but weathering a popular culture phenomenon and the intricacies of espionage mightn’t have prepared the actress for her visit to the Canary Islands. Over meals of crickets and seeds from a dead pigeon’s stomach, Russell follows Bear Grylls through caverns and canyons as she shares stories from her life and career.
Kate: The Making Of A Modern Queen
Expires: July 31
She’s the woman who’ll someday be queen — and while it’s a fallacy to say that every woman dreams of becoming royalty, Kate Middleton has still become a role model for many. From ordinary British citizen to wife of the future king, Middleton’s story continues to engage. Here, experts help guide royal watchers through what seems to be a real-life fairy tale.