A century ago French philanthropist Albert Kahn set off on a world tour with his chauffeur Alfred Dutertre. Dutertre had taken crash courses in photography, cinematography and in the Lumiere Brothers’ latest invention, the autochrome process, a fool-proof method that yielded remarkably true-to-color images. Luckily, Khan’s chauffeur was a quick study, and the resulting footage and photos of the diverse cultures they encountered inspired Albert Kahn to build nothing less than an Archive of the Planet. Spanning 22 years (1908-30) in more than 50 countries, his photographers left an unprecedented record of how ordinary people lived all over the world. There are more than 72,000 autochrome plates alone, but the black-and-white film footage brings this amazing era to life in the ten-part BBC series The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn. The onscreen historians are palpably moved by the glimpses into long vanished cultures and nations in transition, and there is much for the amateur genealogist to study as well. Look for the DVD later this year.
We are saddened by the news that Edward Hardwicke (Oppenheimer, Poirot: The Hollow died on Wednesday. He is best known for the stalwart support he gave to Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes in his seasons as Dr. Watson from 1984-94. The son of Hollywood actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke, he made his film debut as a child actor in A Guy Named Joe (1943). Click here for the BBC News obituary.