This is the story of one of the most extraordinary and audacious experiments in the history of science, which a visionary neuroscientist called John Lilly embarked on in the 1960s. His ambition was to build a communications bridge between humans and a little studied species of big-brained marine mammals called Tursiops Truncata – or the bottlenose dolphin; to teach them to speak English.

The experiment was seized upon by NASA, who were embarking on the first search for extra-terrestrial intelligence beyond the Earth, and immediately saw the potential to practice communicating on the dolphins, before ET made contact.

Backed with funding from NASA and other government agencies Lilly recruited a young female researcher called Margaret Howe to live with an adolescent male dolphin called Peter, in a specially built lab in the Caribbean. Over the summer of 1965 the pair began to co-habit in this domestic dolphinarium; with Margaret giving Peter daily English lessons.

But what started with 60s idealism would spiral into the darkness of the decade, and end in a tragedy, mired in scandal and rumours about a sexual relationship between Peter and Margaret.

The film premiered at the 2014 Sheffield International Documentary Festival, (sheffdocfest.com/films/5686), on the 11th June, and on BBC Four on the 17th June 2014, (bbc.co.uk/programmes/b046w2n8).

Loading more stuff…

Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?

Loading videos…