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"The Secret Life of Waves" – on BBC4 UPDATED

Just in case some of you might be interested in the other side of my life,  my last film is finally going out.

It is called  “The Secret Life of Waves.” You can read about it here

 It was a very difficult project and time as the film itself explains. Many thanks to my friend and colleague Andrew Thompson who pulled it back from the brink, got it finished and on the air.

TX is Wednesday 2nd Feb at 9pm on BBC4.  It should be available on the iplayer the following day.

60 Responses to "The Secret Life of Waves" – on BBC4 UPDATED

  1. IanG January 26, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Great news, I will look forward to that David.

  2. gorgeous cleo January 26, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    That's really good news to hear David, it has had its problems. As with Ian,I am looking forward to seeing it.

  3. 24K January 26, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

    I look forward to the film dude. I just watched ZEITGEIST: MOVING FORWARD

    Well worth watching.

  4. Shazza February 3, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    Watched "the secret life of waves" last night. What a fantastic, informative and well made documentary. It has had quite a profound impact on me. Love how personal and touching it was. Well done!!

  5. Golem XIV - Thoughts February 3, 2011 at 9:19 am #


    Thank you for watching. It was hard to make. So I am glad it spoke to you.

  6. markbirdsall February 3, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    Thank you so much for you film "The Secret Life of Waves" which I saw last night. It was a fascinating, informative and stimulating on some profound intellectual and emothional levels. Your metaphor of human life as a wave was highly significant – I was strongly reminded of the the work of american psychologist George Kelly. Kelly's conception of the person as "a form of motion", as inherently anticipatory and forward-moving, sat right at home for me in your film. In a TV schedule dominated by a tabloid mentality and exploitation of stereotypes, it was wonderful to be party to something so insightful and powerful. Thank you!

  7. Golem XIV - Thoughts February 3, 2011 at 11:44 am #


    You have knocked my morning all awry. I had it all set out but now I am off to discover what George Kelly said.

    I had not heard of him. Thank you for telling me of him.
    Thank you for watching the film and especially for your kind comments.

  8. MardyBrit February 3, 2011 at 1:41 pm #


    Wow. One word – sublime. Thanks for 60 minutes of engrossing TV. The license fee will be paid less begrudgingly now ๐Ÿ™‚ Most stuff on the goggle box is aimed at the lowest possible denominator – how refereshing to watch something that stumlated on a number of levels. This is what TV was meant to be.

    Congratulations and i suppose i'll be a bit of a fan from now on!

  9. Golem XIV - Thoughts February 3, 2011 at 1:52 pm #


    Two words – Thank you. Seriously, I was talking to some of the crew ealier and we are all agreed, corny as it may sound, knowing that a film has spoken to some of the audience really is what it is about.

    So thank you for letting me know.

    I know what you mean about the license fee.

  10. florencemary February 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    I've been thinking about your programme all day! The analogy between waves and human life was utterly fascinating and thought-provoking (where DOES our energy go when we die!), and the photography was stunning.

    A difficult film for you to make, I realise, but thank you so much for making me think.

  11. Rina February 3, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Dear David
    What a great film! It was beautiful and profound, without being boring ๐Ÿ™‚
    I love waves and after last night even more!!

  12. Jane February 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Just like so many of the comments I thought the programme was fantastic. The scientific side of the nature of waves was very interesting. However the part of programme relating to looking at an object to reveal the process or processes and then tying that in with our own lives was really exciting and has had me thinking about it ever since. Thank you for a wonderful programme – it was so good on so many levels.

  13. fatcat_29 February 6, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    Fantastic film. It really bridged a gap between my understanding of maths and nature.
    Thanks again.

  14. Dallas February 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Knockout. Finally a documentary that dealt with the science, the maths, the history, the geography, the personal and the philosophical aspects of waves in water, or indeed any fluid medium. Enough information to engage the viewer with a breadth of vision that was equally provocative, stimulating and captivating.

    The profound aspects of motion and energy coupled with aspects of distinctions of process and 'static' reality viewed from different timescales was a triumph of communication.

    The brave inclusion of a personal loss made the end of the programme poignant and thought provoking

    PLEASE can programme makers take note: we do not appreciate total dumbing down and oversimplification for the sake of 'entertainment' and appealing to the lowest common denominator to reach the 'widest audience'.

    It must have been really difficult to make and edit this programme.

  15. Golem XIV - Thoughts February 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    Dallas, fatcat, Jane Rina and Florencemary,

    Thank you all for your very kind comments. It is a joy to hear from people who like to be asked to think and who take pleasure in doing so.

    It makes my day.

  16. Norm de Plume February 11, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    wow – googled your name because I enjoyed your v interesting prog and here I am taking up you time telling you a) a pat on the back for all concerned and b) keep up the good work. I liked that the prof from Warwick couldn't keep still as he talked about process! thanks again.

  17. Golem XIV - Thoughts February 11, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    Norm de Plume,

    Thank you. I will pass on your kind comment to my editor and crew.

  18. Robert Phillips February 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Dear David,

    Enjoyed your programme on waves very much, but must admit to being very puzzled by your discussion of the work of Walter Munk. All references to Walter were made as if he were no longer with us, and it struck me that maybe you were not aware that Walter is very much alive and well and active, at the age of 93 still coming up with new projects to work on.

    Last year Walter travelled from San Diego, where he works at the Scripps Instituion of Oceanography, to Sweden to receive the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences โ€œfor his pioneering and fundamental contributions to our understanding of ocean circulation, tides and waves, and their role in the Earthโ€ฒs dynamicsโ€.

    It's possible that you know all of this and that the show's budgets simply did not allow for a trip to California. If so I apologise. If not I would urge you to send Walter a copy of your programme. I can assure you that you would greatly enjoy any communication with him.

    Kindest regards,

    Robert Phillips

  19. Davin February 21, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    Very much loved this program – started off with a lovely new look at the mundane subject of Sea waves and ended with some very profound conclusions indeed !

    I loved it so much that I recommended it to several friends and family – but it can no longer be found on iPlayer.

    Is there any where else I can obtain a copy of this wonderful documentary so that others who missed it might be abel to enjoy it ?

  20. Golem XIV - Thoughts February 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm #


    I am glad you liked the film. If you email me at the address in my profile and give me your address I will make you a copy and send it to you.

  21. mark February 22, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Hi David

    Are you or the Beeb planning on releasing the film on dvd? I unfortunately missed this when it was originally aired on BBC4 and only learnt about it via 'letter of the week' in the Radio Times!!! Having now read the posts on your blog, Iโ€™m left intrigued and frustrated that I cant appear to see it!


  22. Golem XIV - Thoughts February 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm #


    Sadly I can't release what I don't own and the BBC will probably not release it either. So as I said to Davin above, email me your address and I'll make you an unofficial copy.

  23. Phil March 23, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Hi David, I was giong through some sites that I book marked and re-stumbled on this one ๐Ÿ™‚ I was would replied nearer the time but … I forgot! I have a good excuse for 'forgetting' though (well, I think I do) I was studying .. wait for it… Waves, in the Ocean as part of a Science degree at Plymouth. You made my coursework so much easier after seeing your film as it put all the lectures in more of a perspective (don't tell my lecturers!) for me and I found that my pen (I wish it was a pen! and not MS word! (no offence MS)), anyway, words flowed and conclusions were drawn which made for a top mark – so Thank You, all of you involved in the making of the film.
    Any more projects in the pipe-line?
    I have a few good ideas and would be willing to trade ( ๐Ÿ™‚ ) for a copy of the film .. Please? pretty please…
    Thanks again for a lovely, well made & informative film,
    Kind Regards
    Brian (not Phil, who's name comes up when I sign into GMail for some bizarre reason)

  24. Brian March 23, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    yay. Phil appears to have disappeared ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Robin Smith May 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    I really like your films. I just flipped channels and saw this was on about 5 minutes from the end.

    Is there any way I can see it from the beginning? I do understand that you are constrained by the channel.

    Thank you

  26. ham May 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    If it wasn't for nepotism I doubt work as shoddy as this would get made. Please try harder to understand a subject before talking about it on TV.

  27. Golem XIV - Thoughts May 8, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    Robin Smith,

    Thank you. Usually a film on BBC4 will then be on teh Iplayer for a week after transmission. If it's not there drop me an meail and I will make you a copy.


    what exaclty is the shoddiness to which you refer? I should tell you that the scientists who contributed to the film whose own work is neither shoddy nor the result of nepotism have made it clear that they very much liked the film and its over all message.

    So is it the pictures you dislike?

    And please, if you can't muster a minimum of cordiality and politeness then please go away and learn how.

  28. Sean May 9, 2011 at 4:53 am #

    Me and a friend just watched your film, it polished off a brilliant weekend. Great job.

  29. graememalcolm May 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    Fantastic film; excellent production, coupled with fantastic cinematography. Like many others on here have previously said, I too was moved by your film and the questions it asked: I doubt I will look at waves in the same way again. Much respect for including the content you did, it can't have been easy, and I look forward to seeing more television work in the future.

  30. Golem XIV - Thoughts May 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Sean and graememalcolm,

    Thank you both very much. It was great to be given the chance to make a film which dealt with something I really wanted to say.

    Thanks again.

  31. smalltoken May 16, 2011 at 5:47 am #

    Thank you so much for making this film. Even a year after his death it has helped with the loss of my Grandfather. Maybe it is possible to go even deeper with the quantum wave function? That would mean that absolutely every universal thing is comprised of waves… all building up to the larger processes which make us 'us'.

  32. Golem XIV - Thoughts May 16, 2011 at 7:03 am #


    you are most welcome. Thank you for commenting. As you say the quantum level embeds the notion even more firmly. One does not need to suppose us to be the centre of the universe to find great solace and meaning in the way things and we just happen to be.

  33. joe May 16, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Hi there,

    I watched your programme on iplayer on Saturday night.I couldn't sleep and have always found the ocean and water so calming i thought that it would be a good choice to watch on my own in the small hours of the morning. I was uterly fascinated with what I found but couldn't quite make it through the whole thing, think i missed the last 20minutes. Now I find myself unable to watch again on iplayer having so enthusiastically suggested we watch it to my partner. Reading the forum comments I realize that I missed something significant to, and that has a paricular relevanece for my partner at the moment as well. Is there any way i can get a copy of this or access it to watch again somewhwer. Any suggestions at all much appreciated, my email joseph.rigby at gmail.com

    Thanks again for a fantastic film, whatveer your response. In solidarity, joe

  34. john May 17, 2011 at 7:39 am #

    On the nature of the ether, space or the cosmic sea through which electromagnetic waves propogate ..

    To any power of sight which we can bring to bear upon it this koilon appears homogeneous, though it is not probable that it is so in reality. It answers to scientific demands in so far that it is out of all proportion denser than any substance known to us-
    quite infinitely denser–belonging to another order and type of density altogether. For the very kernel and nexus of the whole conception is that what we call matter is not koilon, but the absence of koilon. So that to comprehend the real conditions we must modify our ideas of matter and space-modify them almost to the extent of reversing our terminology. Emptiness has become solidity and solidity emptiness.
    a quote from
    a scientists view
    same scientists exploration
    even older source
    make of it what you will

  35. Ruaraidh October 11, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    Hi David,

    Really enjoyed the program as it seems did most people, I watched it on it’s first showing a while back and then again recently as a repeat, I’ve been trying to find somewhere to watch it since then (online) which has lead me to here and was wondering if there was anywhere that it was viewable or if there was a dvd available?

    Many thanks,

    n.b if you happen to get this and have the chance to reply then please do to my email which is ruaraidhmonies@hotmail.co.uk

  36. Lesley Mount October 24, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    I’m another one who recorded this from BBC4 a while ago, only just got around to watching it, loved it, and would love to have a copy of it – official or otherwise! I found it very moving, thank you for making something out of the ordinary, a rare treat.

  37. mike pollard October 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    Hi David.

    I’ve just caught up with your film during a bit of late-night channel surfing. Brilliant – absolutely brilliant. I’m in love with waves of all kinds – endlessly fascinating and mathematically mind-numbing. The study of waves is so important to our understanding of our world – from the individual to the cosmic. I want my children to see this – where can I get a copy? Despite the fact that ‘Secret life …’ has attained almost cult status, the Beeb haven’t released it yet.

  38. Nicola October 30, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    Please release this film on DVD! Before Christmas!

  39. Maurizio December 17, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Hi Mr Malone
    I watched your documentary in Belgium thanks to a lucky coincidence.
    I will never forget these 60 touching minutes.

    Do you know if it exists a version in Italian or with Italian subtitles?

    I’d like to show it to my father who is terminally ill, with few weeks in front of him

  40. Zala June 11, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    I watched the documentary a couple of months ago, one Friday afternoon, exhausted after an intense period. I don’t remeber having ever seen such a poetic, lyrical, one one hand, and informative, on the other, documentary. It’s stuck with me.:) Still, I would really love to get a copy of it (is there a DVD available?) to show it to my friends who have been hearing so much about it.
    I believe, a big thank you to you and your entire crew is in order.

    • Golem XIV June 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

      Hello Zala,

      Thank you for your most kind comment. It is always great to know someone has enjoyed something we (the team) has made.

      if you email me your address I will send you a copy. My email is in ‘About me’ at the top of the blog,


  41. Grace July 30, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    Hello David – I was delighted to catch your documentary again tonight. It stayed with me long after I saw it about eighteen months ago. For me everything about it was profound. Watching it second time around I was touched by the gift of insights the waves seemed to offer you at such a poignant time.

    I live by the sea and often photograph the waves in all their moods http://www.blipfoto.com/entry/1021682, the experience all the richer for your film. Thank you.

    Like others above I came looking for a way to buy it on DVD as I would love to be able to share it with friends and to revisit it from time to time. If it is possible for you to send me a copy I would be happy to make a donation to any cause you support.

    All good wishes and thanks again, Grace.

    • Golem XIV July 31, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      Hello Grace,

      I am about to leave for a frew days filming but if you email me your street address I will send you a copy of Waves. Use the email address in my profile.

      I am very glad you liked the film.

  42. Chris Robinson July 31, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    I caught the second half of the secret life of waves by accident the other day when channel hopping, and was utterly engrossed. What a wonderfully interesting, thought provoking and ultimately moving insight. Thank you.

  43. Karen July 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    Dear David,
    I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by this film… it reflects so many thoughts I have about life; what constitutes life and consciousness; the question of process and objects; and I was so moved by the footage you shared with us of your mother, since my mother died last year and I have been trying to make sense of it all. I am presuming that like me, you have an interest in Buddhist philosophy since you raise the questions of continual change and transition and life being in a state of flux. I’ve been waiting so long for someone like you to come along and make a programme that really questions the nitty gritty of life … and you did that ๐Ÿ™‚ I applaud you. With much respect and best wishes, Karen

  44. Christine August 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Your film was absolutely fantastic. I tuned in to the last half hour of the last broadcast and have spent two days trying to record BBC i player but have not succeeded. I am desperate to get a copy to keep and share with others. It was a brilliant way to get across scientific information in a relaxed easy to follow way. My daughter is bereaved and so are two frineds so I would love to share it with them and I am sure they would find it very comforting. I would love to buy a copy if that is possible. Thank you for such a beautiful film and I hope you make many more. Christine

    • Golem XIV August 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

      Hello Chris, Karen and Christine,

      Thank you all for you very kind messages. What can I say. It was a hard film to make but knowing people find something good in it is what makes it worth while,

      So, thank you again.

  45. Gary August 7, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    Is there a way for those of here in the U.S. to view the piece? Thank you.

    • Golem XIV August 7, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      Hello Gary,

      thanks for asking. Sadly there isn’t.

      I wish there was. It is a sadness to me to make a film and then have no way of letting people watch it. All I can suggest is occassionally trying YouTube. People do put it up and sometimes it is a few days before the BBC has it taken down.

      Other than that all I can do is send you a dvd in the post.

    • Roger August 8, 2012 at 8:55 am #

      If it is still on BBC I Player gary, install mozilla firefox and use a proxy server add on called foxy proxy, its free you can then get a public uk proxy IP address again there are lots posted if you google. That will allow you then to watch the bbc iplayer or any of the other on line terrestrial channels barred abroad. Live sports grand prix. etc.

  46. Gary August 8, 2012 at 3:07 am #

    Thank you, David. I appreciate your kind thought. I hope serendipity plays a role here, as it so often does in other spheres.

  47. Sarah Baker December 9, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    Hi – My martial arts teacher showed me a copy he had of “The Secert Life of Waves” a while back (2011 sometime). It has stuck with me deeply and I have tried to see it again, unsuccefully. Is it available for sale yet? Is there anyway to see it on-line?
    Thanks, Sarah

    • Golem XIV December 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      hello Sarah Baker,

      Sadly the BBC isn’t gpoing to make it available. The only way to get a copy is to send me your address and I’ll make you a copy. My email is in my profile.

  48. Amanda September 2, 2015 at 12:41 am #

    I just finished watching the documentary on BBC Three…. I really like the philosophical and the comparative aspect to life. sadly enough I was thinking about my father whom I lost last year whom I haven’t seen for nine years and the worst bit it is I could even go to the funeral! your documentary got me thinking and I’m still thinking …. but I’m so pleased you got the chance to involve your parents in the documentary…

  49. Sue September 2, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

    I have just finished watching The Secret Life of Waves and cannot describe how powerful I found it. I had no preconceptions of what it might contain, I live by that Devon Coast and am always spellbound by the motion of the waves and the energy contained within.
    I am just approaching the 13th anniversary of my mother’s death and will never forget the night she passed away and that strong sense of dissipated energy – afterwards I found it cathartic to walk down by the coast and feel that somehow the energy from her death had a purpose in that it was now a part of what I could experience in the wind and the waves. I know that I sought solutions about where her consciousness had gone and that was the closest I could get to an answer
    I found great solace from watching your programme and wish to thank you for sharing your personal thoughts alongside the science. The two should not need to be separate.

  50. Kay September 5, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    I’ve just watched The Secret Life of Waves on iPlayer whilst idly browsing to find something that looked vaguely watchable when I had an hour to kill.
    My goodness, how glad I am that serendipity led me to it!

    One of the most fascinating, well-constructed and beautifully narrated science documentaries I’ve seen in a long while. One that dared to delve into much greater philosophical and human concerns whilst retaining its essence of pure science.

    Just felt I had to say ‘Thanks’!

  51. PJ September 7, 2015 at 11:23 pm #

    I just watched this on iPlayer and I’m still reeling from the impact.

    It was the most thought provoking and moving program I have seen in years, thank you!



    This could easily be expanded into a full series, because the scope is huge, and the ideas are mind boggling. I wonder if advances in quantum theory have moved the original ideas forward in any way, from when the program was first broadcast? Or if the ideas have developed into other areas? I would love to see if this is the case.

  52. Golem XIV September 11, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    Sorry I have not replied till now. I have been away filming and leave again in the morning. But I wanted to take my turn thanking those of you who watched and left a comment here.

    Thank you.

    Your comments are what make film making such a privilege.


  53. Stephen Brown July 26, 2016 at 12:02 am #

    David, thank you!

    My wife and I have just watched your programme The Secret Lives of Waves for the third time in its entirety. Thanks to the repeat on BBC4 early Monday morning last.

    About the time when we first saw the programme in 2011, we each had lost a parent and your concluding thoughts gave us both immense comfort.

    On reflection this documentary is equally thrilling in scope, very profound and as important, good television.

    Speaking for myself, the way you articulated your ideas coupled with my own brief dalliance with Buddhist philosophy has now given me the clarity of vision to see through organised religion.

    I wish you every success and happiness in life, with your political aspirations and hopefully with making more outstanding documentaries. I hope we will see more, soon.


    Just to add, the actual science and mathematical ideas you presented were equally important. Your palpable excitement at discovering them was wonderful.

  54. Kevin August 4, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    I saw this film on catch up this morning, can you advise if the music is available anywhere
    many thanks

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