National Geographic Explorer

National Geographic Explorer (or simply Explorer) is an American documentary television series that originally premiered on Nickelodeon on April 7, 1985, after having been produced as a less costly and intensive alternative to PBS's National Geographic Specials by Pittsburgh station WQED.[1] The first episode ("Herculaneum: Voices from the Past") was produced by WQED and featured long-time Explorer cameraman Mark Knobil, who is the few staff members with the franchise during all 24 seasons. The program is the longest-running documentary television series on cable television. Presented every Sunday from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, the original series was three hours in length, containing five to ten short films. Although the National Geographic Society had been producing specials for television for 20 years prior to Explorer, the premiere of the series required an increase in production from 4 hours of programming a year to 156 hours. Tim Cowling and Tim Kelly were the executive producers for the series during this transition.

A 2005 title screenshot.
Created byJoe Seamans
Developed byJoe Seamans
Presented byBingo O'Malley original
Lisa Ling (2003–2010)
StarringPhil Keoghan (2018-Current)
Narrated byBingo O'Malley original
Lisa Ling (2003–2010)
Phil Keoghan (2018–Current)
Theme music composerElmer Bernstein
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes233
Executive producer(s)Jonathan Halperin
Camera setupMultiple
Running time90 minutes
Production company(s)National Geographic Society
Original networkNickelodeon (1985–1986)
TBS (1986–1999)
CNBC (1999–2001)
MSNBC (2001–2004)
National Geographic Channel (2004–present)
Original releaseApril 7, 1985 (1985-04-07) 
Preceded byNational Geographic Specials
Followed byNational Geographic Ultimate Explorer
External links

In its 24 years on television, Explorer has worked for five television outlets. In February 1986, Explorer moved to TBS, where it had a successful run until September 1999, when it moved to CNBC. In October 2001, the series moved to MSNBC. In June 2003, the series re-launched itself on MSNBC as Ultimate Explorer, with Lisa Ling as the host. On July 8, 2004, Explorer joined the National Geographic Channel.

National Geographic Explorer has earned more than 400 awards, including 52 Emmy Awards, 13 Cable ACE awards, the Family Television Award, the Genesis Award, the DuPont-Columbia Silver Baton Award, the Peabody Award, four Gold Medals at the International Film and Television Festival of New York, as well as being nominated for two Academy Awards.[2][3]

The original Explorer series ended in 2011 and then was started again in 2015 with the help of original programming president Tim Pastore, hosted by British journalist Richard Bacon,[4] with executive producers Lou Wallach, Jeff Hasler and Brian Lovett.[5] The series is broadcast on National Geographic's 171 channels around the world.[5] In 2018, Bacon was replaced by Phil Keoghan who is best known for hosting The Amazing Race.[6]

Plot / Format

Variety magazine described the series: "The new-model 'Explorer' is described as a weekly 'docu-talk' series that will feature magazine-style field reporting, celebrity guests and talk show segments shot in front of a studio audience." [5]

Hosts / narrators

Executive producers

  • Tim Kelly
  • Tim Cowling
  • Tom Simon
  • Michael Rosenfeld
  • Patrick Prentice
  • Jonathan Halperin
  • Robert Zakin
  • Lou Wallach,
  • Jeff Hasler
  • Brian Lovett


Episode list starting with the change in title to simply Explorer

Season 1 (2005)

Season 2 (2006)

Season 3 (2007)

Season 4 (2008)

Season 5 (2009)

Season 6 (2010)

Season 7 (2011)

  • "American Hostage"
  • "Lost Cannibals of Europe"
  • "How to Build a Beating Heart"
  • "Man vs Volcano"
  • "Megapiranha"
  • "Mystery of the Murdered Saints"
  • "Stormagenddon"
  • "Taking Down the Mob"
  • "Crime Lords of Tokyo"
  • "Gang War USA"
  • "Murder in the Roman Empire"
  • "Hostage Crises Massacre"
  • "Psychic Gold Hunt"
  • "To Catch a Smuggler"
  • "Marijuana Gold Rush"
  • "Guerrilla Gold Rush"

Season 8 (2015)

  • "Warlords of Ivory"
  • "Legend of the Monkey God"
  • "Bill Nye's Global Meltdown"
  • "The Cult of Mary"
  • "Call of the Wild"
  • "Eyes Wide Open"
  • "Fighting ISIS"
  • "Faces of Death"
  • "Point of No Return"
  • "Blood Antiquities"
  • "Battle for Varunga"
  • "What Would Teddy Do?", about Theodore Roosevelt

Season 9 (2016)

  • "Episode 1" originally broadcast November 14, 2016 - host Richard Bacon, stories of death and features interviews with comedian Larry Wilmore and environmental activist Erin Brockovich.
  • "Episode 2" originally broadcast November 21, 2016
  • "Episode 3" originally broadcast November 28, 2016
  • "Episode 4" originally broadcast December 5, 2016 - Russian gender camps, Uganda’s Hollywood and blows up a bus for science, David Banner, Chris Kluwe and Gavin Mcinnes debate the meaning of manhood.
  • "Episode 5" originally broadcast December 12, 2016
  • "Episode 6" originally broadcast December 19, 2016

Season 10 (2017)

  • "Episode 1" originally broadcast March 6, 2017
  • "Episode 2" originally broadcast March 13, 2017 - host Aasif Mandvi, investigates US Terrorist watchlist
  • "Episode 3" originally broadcast March 20, 2017 - host Nick Schifrin, interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama[8]
  • "Episode 4" originally broadcast March 27, 2017
  • "Episode 5" originally broadcast April 3, 2017 - host Dan Rather, Iceland’s gene pool could unlock the cure to diseases like Alzheimer’s; Ryan Duffy investigates the rhino horn black market.
  • "Episode 6" originally broadcast April 10, 2017
  • "Episode 7" originally broadcast April 17, 2017
  • "Episode 8" originally broadcast April 24, 2017
  • "Episode 9" originally broadcast May 1, 2017 - investigates Mexico’s violent war on drugs, an looks into Oklahoma’s disappearing cattle, plus actor and activist Mandy Patinkin.
  • "Episode 10" originally broadcast May 8, 2017
  • "Episode 11" originally broadcast May 15, 2017 - host Jeff Goldblum, in-depth look at Big Pharma, prescription drugs and the opioid epidemic.
  • "Episode 12" originally broadcast May 22, 2017
  • "Episode 13" originally broadcast May 29, 2017
  • "Episode 14" originally broadcast June 5, 2017 - host Ted Danson about a rare surgical procedure. Plus why NASA’s newest star, is a world-famous chef.
  • "Episode 15" originally broadcast June 12, 2017 - host Ted Danson, growing illegal fish trade, plus executive director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth.
  • "Episode 16" originally broadcast June 19, 2017
  • "Episode 17" originally broadcast June 26, 2017 - host Ali Wentworth, interview with civil rights pioneer the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.; investigation story of an Indian endurance runner Dharampal singh Gudha who may be 119 years old



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