The Superhuman strand continues its fascinating insight into some of the world’s most extraordinary people.
Superhuman: Genius meets people across the world with incredible and rare gifts.
There’s the outstanding teenage artist, the accountant with the phenomenal memory, the fascinating child musician, the seven-year-old science whizzkid and the real-life Rain Man.
Thirteen-year-old Akiane paints works of art worth thousands of pounds and she started when she was just four years old.
She tells the film how a voice in her head, which she believes to be God, taught her how to start painting and a home video shows how, by the time she was just eight, she was painting detailed portraits on giant canvases.
The film shows Akiane’s amazing artwork, including portraits, landscapes and the natural world and she and her family show cameras around the luxury home which they have bought with the profits from her paintings, as she has become the main breadwinner in the house.
Brit Ben is a former accountant who has such an incredible memory that he gave up his career to concentrate on his talent. He is the UK Memory Champion and invests hours putting his brain to the test.
The programme follows him as he demonstrates his talent in the supermarket by remembering the barcodes of every item in his basket.
He also decides to try to break his own record for being the fastest person in the world able to memorise a pack of cards. He currently memorises them in 26 seconds – his first attempt to break the record fails – can he manage it the second time?
The film meets the man who was the inspiration for the hit film Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman as a man with a confounding mixture of disability and brilliance which left him with an incredible memory.
Kim from Salt Lake City has brain damage which has left him with the greatest memory in the world - able to remember 98% of everything he ever reads. He is seen as he meets people in the street and from their date of birth can tell them what day of the week they will retire.
The film follows him as he visits the world’s leading expert on savant syndrome, Dr Darold Treffert, who tells the film: “I keep thinking that pretty soon the memory full sign has to come up, like it does on a computer, but it doesn’t. He continues to absorb and not only absorb but also recall.”
Kim’s father, Fran, gives a moving account about caring for his son – who needs his help washing, dressing and cleaning his teeth. When he was growing up Kim was a recluse who rarely left the house and wouldn’t keep eye contact with anyone, but after Dustin Hoffman met him he told Fran he should be sharing Kim’s incredible talent with the world.
Since then, Fran has taken Kim on a tour to meet and interact with millions of people. The film follows the pair as they go to a university to meet an audience of 300 people who are eager to witness the genius of Kim Peek.
The parents of 10-year-old musical genius Ariel explain to the programme that they developed their son’s talent by ensuring he listened to classical music when he was in the womb.
He was raised in a house dominated by music and had his first piano bought for him before he was even born. By the age of five he had taught himself to play the piano and aged seven he was playing in concerts with an adult orchestra.
The film follows Ariel, from Israel, as he plays in a late night jazz club and jets to Italy to perform his jazz debut outside Israel.
And the film meets the eight-year-old boy studying chemistry at degree level. Ainan from Singapore took chemistry O-level when he was just seven after his parents discovered he had a gift for understanding the subject when he was only six.
he Superhuman strand continues its fascinating insight into some of the world’s most extraordinary people.
Superhuman: Super Strong meets some of the strongest people on the planet and reveals the extreme lengths they will go to in order to possess their amazing raw power.
The documentary features the three-year-old girl whose parents have already got her lifting weights, the man who is so muscular his thigh is almost as big as his waist and the man who can smash his hand through nine layers of solid concrete.
The film examines the relationship between the power of the mind and the power of the body and reveals how far human power is down to nature or nurture.
Welsh bodybuilder Flex Lewis tells the programme how he lives on a diet of fish five times a day and devotes his whole life to developing the most incredible bulging muscles. He has 80 per cent more muscle than the average British man, a quarter of the body fat and the circumference of his thigh is almost the same as his waist.
He says: “If you want to stand out you’ve got to make yourself look like a peacock. I don’t want to be a blackbird; I want to show my feathers off.”
The film also meets circus strongman Uri Akulova from the Ukraine who has trained his teenage daughter, Varya, to become a power-lifting record breaker and has already got her three-year-old sister, Barbi, lifting weights.
He says: “I started to train my children even before they were born - I was working with their mother. Their mother was training until the last day of pregnancy”.
His wife, Larisa, adds: “At the beginning it was a bit hard, but that passed, up until I was nine months pregnant I moved, ran, skipped and boxed with my husband.”
British black belt karate king Ed Byrne describes to the programme how he mentally transforms himself into an alter ego he calls ‘Thug’ before smashing his hand through nine layers of solid concrete.
Ed says: “Concrete deserves respect, especially when you want to break it with the human hand.”
The programme also features the world’s strongest couple, Brit Gemma Taylor and her Icelandic powerhouse husband Benedikt Magnusson, as they eagerly await the birth of their son and wonder if he will turn out to be an extraordinarily strong baby.
Gemma says: “Aged nine or ten, working with the horses, I was able to lift a bale of hay and throw it in the stable. That’s when knew I was different - everyone else had to use wheelbarrows.”
And the film meets Travis ‘The Beast’ Bagent, a champion arm wrestler from West Virginia, USA, who psyches out his opponents and attempts to beat them with mind games before he’s even touched their hands.
Travis says: “I’m known as the coolest guy in the world, by far the best arm wrestler that ever lived. People say I’m too cocky, I’m too confident. Well they’re right – I do think I’m superior.”
The film follows Travis as he travels to an arm wrestling championship in Manchester where he takes on Canadian champion Devon Larratt, who appears to have arms of steel.
World's Tallest Children
What is it like to be head-and-shoulders above all the other children at school, or the tallest girl or boy in the world? What are the day-to-day challenges for these children and for their parents? And how does it affect the children’s health?
Superhuman: World’s Tallest Children reveals the stories of children who have reached superhuman heights – like the 13-year-old who’s already over seven foot tall, the tallest family in England and the girl from Bangkok hoping to achieve a Guinness World record for her height.
Brenden Adams is the world’s tallest boy - at just 13, he’s seven feet four and a half inches tall. Brenden comes from Ellensburg in Washington. He has a unique genetic condition which isn’t hereditary – the rest of his family are of average height. Brendan is two feet taller than his friends, but still attempts to join in the activities of a normal thirteen year old.
Brenden has been in and out of hospital for much of his life. He was born with a unique genetic abnormality, which has also caused enlarged joints and swollen eyelids.
As he has grown faster than any child ever his future is uncertain. His mother says: “You want an answer; you want to know what’s wrong with my child, why is this happening. And nobody can tell you. Nobody can give you an answer.”
11-year-old Naomi Van Nes, at five feet nine inches tall, is head and shoulders above her school friends. She may stand out at school but at home her height is nothing extraordinary. The Van Nes’s are thought to be Britain’s tallest family. Dad Frank and 16-year-old son Vincent are six feet ten inches, 15-year-old Lucas is six foot eight, 13-year-old Franklin is six foot one and mum Miriam is nearly six foot tall. When they go out as a family they are the object of curiosity and at times ridicule, but at home they can be themselves. Their house has been specially designed to take into account their height, with extra long beds, higher worktops in the kitchen and taller windows so they can enjoy the views. Naomi says: “I do notice I am the shortest at home, and the tallest at school. I think I feel better at home – because I just feel normal.”
When Garret Anderson last saw his daughter, Marvadene Anderson, she was seven years old and came up to his waist. Now 15, Marvadene has shot up to six foot nine inches and plays for the Jamaican national basketball team. She travels from her home in Jamaica for a reunion with father in Manchester. Garrett is six foot five tall, but how will he feel about being outgrown by his daughter?
Craig Glenday, editor of the Guinness World Records book, travels from London to Bangkok to verify a possible new world record. 17-year-old Malee Duangdee has found it hard to be accepted because of her height. Her father tells the programme: “When she walked down the street many people called her a giant and laughed at her.”
Malee says: “So many times I ask myself why? I sit in front of the mirror and cry. Why am I not the same as other people.” Malee’s height is caused by a tumour on her pituitary gland, a condition which could be fatal. She desperately needs expensive drugs and the fame of holding a Guinness World Record may bring the money her family needs for her treatment.
Eight-year-old Angelique Cooper is already the tallest in her class and is the height of an average ten year old. She thinks this is “cool” but her dad, Nick, is six foot nine, and fears his daughter may struggle if she becomes exceptionally tall. He tells the programme that he was bullied at school because of his height and Angelique admits that she is sometimes picked on at school. Growth expert Professor Noel Cameron meets Angelique at a Bristol hospital, and analyses an X-ray of her hand to make an accurate prediction of her adult height. What will Nick and Angelique make of the professor’s results?