A young Welshman, Alfred Russel Wallace from Usk in Monmouthshire, was responsible for the theory of evolution and not Charles Darwin according to a controversial documentary Darwin, y Cymro a'r Cynllwyn (Darwin, the Welshman and the Conspiracy) on S4C on Sunday, 3 November.
The programme shows how Darwin lied and concealed the fact that it was letters from Wallace, a beetle collector, which formulated the ideas behind the theory.
Darwin, y Cymro a'r Cynllwyn is a detective story, which unravels one of the greatest injustices in the history of science. It's a programme which revolutionises our understanding of how Charles Darwin arrived at the ideas that underpinned his theory of evolution as presented in 'The Origin of Species'.
Wallace, the world's most important naturalist at the time, died on 7th November 1913. A century after his death the programme reveals why his name should be linked to one of science's most important theories - evolution. The principal basis of Wallace's research was the prolific collection of specimens gathered over eight years in the Malay Archipelago.
Elin Rhys, the programme's producer, said, "For the first time on television we get damning testimony about the times Wallace sent crucial letters to Darwin. This testimony shows Darwin lied about the dates he received the letters which contained information that transformed his ideas. These were, at the time, far from being ready for publication. And we show how, at the end of the day, the scientific establishment in London made sure that one of them, the famous Charles Darwin, got the credit."
The scientific work of the genius, Alfred Russel Wallace is colossal and revealing. The programme compares the lives and backgrounds of the two men, Darwin and Wallace, one of whom worked behind a desk in a grand house, defended by the English establishment, while the other laboured in the jungle, a cash-strapped naturalist, but with a rich vision and finding answers while marvelling at the most minute details of nature. His interest was kindled in Wales, in the Neath area, where not only did the variety of wildlife surprise him but also the fate of the Welsh language under English influence - an issue which was a template for his theory of evolution.
One of the contributors on the programme is Roy Davies, former Editor of the BBC history series 'Timewatch' and author of the book 'The Darwin Conspiracy'. Roy Davies said, "My research convinces me that Charles Darwin took material from Wallace, sent to him innocently from the other side of the world, and Darwin used that material to give himself the advantage of claiming that he understood the theory of natural selection and the theory of evolution. But, in fact, it was Wallace that came up with this and not Darwin."
Among the other contributors on the programme are Professor Deri Tomos of Bangor University, Dr Elwyn Hughes, author of a book on Alfred Russel Wallace, 'Y Gwyddonydd Anwyddonol' and the scientist, Dr Catrin Williams. The actor, Ioan Hefin has played the role of Wallace in Theatr na nÓg's production 'You Should Ask Wallace', about the naturalist, for the last five years and in the programme he recreates scenes from Wallace's life.