Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer

A collaboration between PBS / NYT / Pulitzer Centre, also shown on the BBC


Series presented by Professor David Olusoga and writer Steven Johnson examining how vaccines, data, drugs and changes in behaviour have led to dramatic increases in life expectancy over the last 150 years.


Set in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, this series explores the lessons learned from previous global pandemics — including smallpox, cholera, the Spanish flu and others — and reveals how scientists, doctors, self-experimenters and activists launched a public health revolution, saving millions of lives, fundamentally changing how we think about illness and ultimately paving the way for modern medicine.


Best-selling Author Steven Johnson (The Ghost Map & How We Got to Now) and Historian and Broadcaster David Olusoga (Civilizations, Black & British: A Forgotten History) combine expertise to guide viewers across 300 years of medical innovation, and go behind the scenes of modern medicine to meet the unsung heroes who are tackling COVID-19 and other public health threats. Johnson and Olusoga shed light on scientific breakthroughs and reveal how collective efforts around the world can lead to extraordinary outcomes, including doubling the human lifespan in under a century.


Guardian (UK) review  **** The gobsmacking truth about vaccines

Curricular Resources from the Pulitzer Centre

Series Director:

Duncan Singh

Executive Producer:

Jane Root / Fiona Caldwell / Nicola Moody

Commissioning Editor:

Bill Gardner


Simon Greenwood


PBS / NYT / Pulitzer / BBC

Production Company: