Terra X

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Television broadcast
Original title Terra X
ZDF Expedition (until 2008)
Terra X.gif
Country of production GermanyGermany Germany
Year (s) since 1982
length 45 minutes
Episodes 1206
Sundays 7:30 p.m. (first broadcast)
genre documentation
First broadcast
  • 17th January 1982
  • July 13, 2008 as an umbrella brand on ZDF
Dirk Steffens shooting for Terra Xpress
Dirk Steffens during the shooting for "Terra X" in Brazil 2014

Terra X is a program brand of the Second German Television for documentaries and documentary series. Until 2008 the brand was called ZDF Expedition . Terra X shows a wide range of topics, including a. History documentaries, nature and animal documentaries, archeology documentations, science documentaries and also fictional documentaries.

The fixed slot for the first broadcasts of Terra X on ZDF is Sunday at 7:30 p.m. In addition, the program is repeated several times a week on ZDFneo and ZDFinfo . The program is also broadcast at irregular intervals on Phoenix (occasionally in the evening or night program), Arte (in the evening program) and 3sat . First broadcasts are occasionally broadcast by Arte, but without the Terra X brand .


Gottfried Kirchner is considered to be the creator of the "Terra X" brand: The first documentary series from the later ZDF Expedition series was Terra X , which started on January 17, 1982 . This history and archeology documentary program formed the basis for further documentary series such as Sphinx, Imperium, Day X and Schliemanns Erben, which were broadcast under the ZDF Expedition brand on Sundays at 7:30 p.m. on ZDF.

In 2008 the ZDF Expedition brand was replaced by the Terra X brand . Since then, some documentaries have only been broadcast under the Terra X brand or as part of a series such as Imperium .

Terra X has had a new logo, a new opening credits and a new title theme since March 20, 2016, and Friederike Haedecke has been in charge of the program's editorial team since October 2017.

According to ZDF, over 40 new productions of the Terra X brand are offered every year at an average cost of around 250,000 euros per episode. The documentaries are sold and broadcast worldwide, e.g. B. the series Universe der Ozeane on the US National Geographic Channel .

Broadcast series

Within the Terra X brand , some of the documentation is summarized as a series. Here is an overview:

Currently recurring

  • A case for Lesch and Steffens
  • A day in ... - The series describes the everyday life of the average population in different historical epochs.
  • Fascination Earth - The series presents different regions of the world and introduces different cultures.
  • Fascination Universe - The series shows new findings from science and research .
  • Kieling - nature and animal documentaries with Andreas Kieling and expeditions around the world
  • Time travel - documentaries about life several centuries ago


  • Egypt
  • Australia saga
  • Bible puzzles
  • Germany - How we live - Germany in facts and figures about its inhabitants, the life of the average German, their diet and the country's treasures.
  • Germany saga
  • Germany at night
  • Germany from below
  • Germany's cities - three-part series, which also deals with the development of cities.
  • The story of beauty
  • The Power of the Elements - Four-part series on the influence of the four elements in human development and today.
  • The Knights
  • Dino planet
  • One earth - many worlds
  • A short story about ... - Three-part story series with Mirko Drotschmann
  • Icy Worlds - Five-part portrait about the polar regions of the earth.
  • Europe saga
  • Expedition (with Robert Atzorn )
  • Expedition Germany
  • Expedition earth
  • F for fake
  • Great Peoples - The series looks at the achievements of the ancient European peoples and their significance for our lives today.
  • Orient
  • Human planet
  • Russia from above
  • Diving trips
  • Seven continents
  • Strausberg - The lake
  • Superhero
  • Dive into the past
  • Universe of the Oceans - Three-part series about the formation and the future of the oceans.
  • On the way in world history - multi-part series about world history in a humorous narrative style.
  • 2057 - Our Lives in the Future - Fictional three-part series that presents a vision of the world in 2057.

Formerly recurring

Overview of former series that were broadcast on Terra X and on ZDF Expedition :

  • Terra X - the series explored the riddles of ancient world cultures.
  • Mission X - The series presented critical breakthroughs in science. Has been continued since 2008 without a title of its own, summarized on the Internet as Ingenious Researchers and Inventors .
  • Day X (2005) - The three-part series presented eventful days in world history that marked a turning point.
  • Sphinx (1994-2005)
  • Empire - This Terra-X series shows the rise and fall of empires (2004-2011).
  • Metropolis
  • Schliemanns Erben - Archaeological Documentation (1996-2010)
  • Schliemann's Gold (2005-2006)
  • Humboldt's heirs (2001-2002)
  • Tropical fever (2003-2007)
  • Troy is everywhere (2007-2008)
  • Germany from above - The series shows Germany from the air, divided into the themes of city, country and river. As a result, cities are u. a. urban forms and the emergence of cities are shown. (2010-2016)
  • Faster than the Eye - Documentaries with recordings in slow motion and fast motion (2012-2013)
  • Superbauten - architecture, important buildings and their history of creation (2010–2012)
  • Super animals - amazing, interesting and bizarre things from the world of animals (2010–2015)
  • Wilder Planet - Natural Disasters and Natural Phenomena (2006-2014)


The documentaries are mostly unmoderated, but in some series narrators lead through the show.



Some Terra X documentaries sparked criticism. In the program about the Chiemgau comet in 2006, for example, it was criticized that only the speculative theses of amateur archaeologists from the Chiemgau Impact Research Team were presented in this program, but that scientists did not have a say. On the series Die Bernstrasse, Sidney Schering onquotemeter.de said in 2012 that the “mixture of fact and speculation, documentation and historical film bonds is quite appealing”, but “nonetheless an unbalanced mixture”.


Access numbers online

In 2010 the programs in the Terra X series were viewed 6.34 million times in the ZDF media library.

Terra X team with the German Television Award 2019

Wish films

For the 30th anniversary of Terra X , viewers were asked to choose nine favorites from a selection of 30 episodes from 30 years. The nine selected documentaries were:

  1. Germany from above 1: City (2010)
  2. The Curse of the Pharaoh (1986)
  3. Hildegard von Bingen (2010)
  4. On the way in world history with Hape Kerkeling, 3rd Middle Ages Adventure (2011)
  5. The Seven Wonders of the World (1998)
  6. King Arthur and the Search for the Grail (2000)
  7. Where was Atlantis? (1988)
  8. South Sea islands from the hand of the gods (1982)
  9. The Nibelungen Code (2007)

Other programs and brands

The Futuro in Berlin: a set for Terra MaX

Terra XXL

Terra XXL (long form: Terra XXL: The Long Terra X Night ) is devoted to a specific topic with three to four episodes of Terra X. Terra XXL was last broadcast in the night from Sunday to Monday on ZDF.

The great Terra X Show (formerly Terra Quiz)

The Terra Quiz was a game show from 2009 to help you solve. The Terra Quiz presented questions about Terra-X documentations from several years. During the show, clips with celebrities were shown trying to answer the questions.

Since 2019 the quiz show has been called the big Terra X show.

Terra Xpress

The knowledge magazine Terra Xpress has been broadcast on ZDF on Sundays at 6:30 p.m. since June 5, 2011 and was initially moderated by Dirk Steffens . Lena Ganschow succeeded Steffens on November 1, 2015 . Since 2018 she has been represented occasionally by Yve Fehring .

In 2011, Peer Schader from the FAZ compared the knowledge magazine in its 2011 review with the ProSieben format Galileo . As early as 2015, Hans Hoff complained to DWDL.de that TerraXpress sometimes had "crude quota hijacking". In 2017 Timo Niemeier from DWDL.de saw a risk of confusion with Terra Xpress "with one of the well-known blue light formats from RTL or Sat.1" and said that it had "nothing at all to do with the actual parent format" Terra-X.

Terra MaX

The program Terra MaX was broadcast from 2012 to 2015 in 32 episodes in the children's program ZDFtivi . In the framework of the plot, Grandpa Max and his grandson or granddaughter use a time machine to bring people from the past into the present for a short period of time. In the episodes, material from old Terra-X documentaries was integrated and provided with new texts and presentations to make it understandable to young viewers.

Terra X Lesch & Co

Interesting facts from the natural sciences and technology with Harald Lesch , Philip Häusser and Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim as a web special on the Youtube channel “Terra X Lesch & Co”, a ZDF production, in cooperation with objektiv media . Lesch was criticized for his preference for cars with fuel cells over e-cars with lithium-ion batteries in a video at Terra X Lesch & Co, because a car with a fuel cell is less energy-efficient than a car with a lithium-ion battery.

Terra X instead of school

Terra X instead of school is a YouTube channel with materials from Terra X. The target group for the offer are students. The offering was launched during the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic when students were prevented from attending school.

Creative Commons

Under the “Terra X” brand, short clips from various ZDF broadcasts are published under Creative Commons licenses. This allows these videos to be shared and edited for any purpose, such as: B. in educational institutions, at Wikipedia or for commercial purposes. The only prerequisites are naming and maintaining the conditions.

See also

Web links

Commons : Terra X  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. https://www.presseportal.de/pm/7840/2283401
  2. Cheers, Terra X! In: wunschliste.de. imfernsehen GmbH & Co. KG, accessed on February 26, 2020 .
  3. "ZDF Expedition" becomes "Terra X"
  4. Biography: Friederike Haedecke: ZDF press portal. Retrieved October 23, 2019 .
  5. Documentation and reports. In: zdf.de. Retrieved February 26, 2020 .
  6. ZDF relies on documentaries
  7. a b "Our view of history is overloaded with clichés" - ZDFmediathek. Accessed March 31, 2020 .
  8. The comet out of nowhere , Abendblatt.de , January 6, 2006
  9. Sidney Schering: The Critics: "Terra X - Die Bernsteinstrasse" , quotemeter.de , October 13, 2012
  10. Most successful year for the revised ZDFmediathek
  11. [1]
  12. Terra Quiz
  13. Dirk Steffens moderates "Terra Xpress" , HORIZONT Online, April 29, 2011
  14. Lena Ganschow is coming , welt.de, November 1, 2015
  15. Peer Schader: Strapped in the wind tunnel: Dirk Steffens on his new ZDF series "Terra Xpress" , FAZ.net , March 6, 2011
  16. Das Hoff zum Sonntag: Danger to life: ZDF lets the world go down DWDL.de, February 8, 2015
  17. Recreational scenes, memorized dialogues: How "Terra Xpress" damages a strong brand , dwdl.de, February 11, 2017
  18. [2]
  19. [3]
  20. imfernsehen GmbH & Co KG: Terra MaX. Retrieved August 7, 2020 .
  21. ↑ Declaration of self-commitment by ZDF 2011 - 2012
  22. Terra X Lesch & Co. In: YouTube. Retrieved May 26, 2017 .
  23. Josef Reitberger: Fuel cell: Why Professor Harald Lesch is wrong with the electric car , efahrer.chip.de, April 4, 2020
  24. ZDF starts “Terra X instead of school”. In: digital television. Retrieved June 9, 2020 .
  25. ZDF chief historian in conversation: “The search for explanations also leads to history”. In: editorial network Germany. Retrieved June 9, 2020 .
  26. Terra X clips under a Creative Commons license. In: ZDF. Retrieved June 9, 2020 .