The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau ran from 1968 to 1976.
About Jacques Cousteau:
Jacques Cousteau is television's most celebrated maker and presenter of documentaries about the underwater world. Setting the standard for such programmes for decades to come, he had a profound influence upon succeeding generations of television documentary-makers around the world.
Cousteau was the virtual creator of the underwater documentary, having helped to develop the world's first aqualung diving apparatus in 1943, while a lieutenant in the French Navy, and having pioneered the process of underwater television. The aqualung afforded divers a freedom underwater that they had never hitherto enjoyed and the arrival of equipment to film underwater scenes opened the door to the documentary makers for the first time (he also had a hand in the development of the bathyscaphe, which allowed divers to descend to great depths).
Founder of the French Navy's Undersea Research Group in 1946, Cousteau became commander of the research ship Calypso (a converted minesweeper) in 1950 and most of his epoch-making films were subsequently made with this vessel as his base of operations (he made a total of some 30 voyages in all). Cousteau's early films were made for the cinema and he earned Oscars for The Silent World, The Golden Fish and World Without Sun, as well as other top awards, such as the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Later documentaries were made for television, and such series as Under the Sea, The World About Us and The Cousteau Odyssey consistently attracted large audiences when shown in the United Kingdom. The World of Jacques Cousteau, first broadcast in 1966, proved internationally successful, running for some eight years (retitled The Undersea World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau) and drawing fascinated audiences of millions all around the globe. When this series ended in 1976 he concentrated on one-off specials on selected subjects (titles including Oasis in Space, The Cousteau Amazon and Cousteau Mississippi).
The appeal of Cousteau's films was not limited to the subject matter, for Cousteau's narrative, delivered in his distinctive nasal unremittingly French accent, was part of the character of his work. His narration was occasionally humorous and tended to personalize the species under discussion, with fish being described as "cheeky" or "courageous". The inclusion of members of his family, his wife Simone and his two sons (one of whom later died) in his films also added a humanizing touch. Such an approach did much to rouse awareness of the richness of life beneath the waves and underlined the responsibility mankind had towards other species.
The winner of numerous accolades and awards over the years, Cousteau is also respected as a outspoken commentator on a range of environmental issues, particularly noted for his uncompromising stand on such matters as nuclear waste and oil pollution. He has also written numerous books based on his research and was until 1988 director of the Oceanic Museum of Monaco (a similar institution opened in Paris in 1989 failed to prosper and closed its doors two years later).
Dunaway, Philip, and George De Kay, editors. Turning Point. New York: Random House, 1958.
Madsen, Axel. Cousteau: An Unauthorized Biography. New York: Beaufort, 1986.
Wagner, Frederick. Famous Underwater Adventurers. New York: Dodd, 1962.