Seconds From Disaster
Seconds from Disaster is a US/UK-produced documentary television programme that investigates historically relevant man-made and natural disasters from the 20th century. Each episode aims to explain a single incident by analyzing the causes and circumstances that ultimately effected the disaster. The program uses re-enactments, interviews, testimonies, and CGI to analyze the sequence of events second-by-second for the audience.
|Seconds from Disaster|
Title card used between 2011 and 2018
|Based on||Historically relevant man-made and natural disasters from the 20th century|
|Narrated by||Ashton Smith |
|Country of origin||United States / United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||69 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||30/40–50 minutes|
|Production company(s)||National Geographic Society|
Darlow Smithson Productions
|Original network||National Geographic|
|Original release||July 6, 2004 – February 22, 2018|
|Preceded by||Seismic Seconds|
|Followed by||Critical Situation|
Seconds from Disaster was first broadcast on the National Geographic Channel in 2004 and originally consisted of 45 episodes over three seasons. Following its original conclusion in 2007, the show was put on a four-year hiatus and later replaced with Critical Situation. In 2011, National Geographic revived the show and aired another 22 episodes over three seasons until the following year. Narrators of the show are Ashton Smith (American narrator for seasons 1 to 3), Richard Vaughan (British narrator for every season except 3), and Peter Guinness (British narrator for season 3).
The show was revived again, with the first episode of season 7 airing on February 15, 2018. Its return has been paired with the 17th Season UK Premiere of Air Crash Investigation, which aired back to back beginning on February 15 at 8PM on National Geographic UK's channel.
Seconds from Disaster is characterised by an emphasis on chronological sequencing (in accordance with the show's name), the use of CGI technology and its blueprint-like CGI format. The show has little or no dialogue for the actors in the re-enactments, but instead is almost entirely dominated by the narrator.
Each episode begins with a chronological re-enactment of the disaster, which is always cut into several scenes displaying critical moments in the unfolding of the disaster with a clock appearing at the beginning of each scene. After the sequence of events, the show "winds back" the scenes to analyse the causes and events leading up to the disaster. The series uses blueprint-formatted CGI in every episode to reveal the anatomy of the disaster and the structures involved but in season 3, the blue formatting of the CGI is not used on the background and is replaced with a white background. From season 4 onwards, they used a sepia-like background. The show concludes with the original disaster scenes being rewind and played again; but this time, the clock is being replaced by a countdown timer and the conclusions reached from the analysis being put together with the sequence. Most often, the show finishes with a short moment of sentimentality (where those involved often speak of their emotions on the disaster) followed by the technological advances made to prevent similar disasters from happening again.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||July 6, 2004||October 26, 2004|
|2||19||June 28, 2005||July 11, 2006|
|3||13||July 25, 2006||March 7, 2007|
|4||6||September 5, 2011||October 10, 2011|
|5||6||March 11, 2012||April 22, 2012|
|6||10||July 22, 2012||December 29, 2012|
|7||2||February 15, 2018||February 22, 2018|
- With the exception of the series 3 episode "Comet Air Crash", that examines the crashes of two DH.106 Comet airliners in 1954.