There are just a handful of phrases or titles in popular culture that can instantly evoke vivid imagery - the name 'King Kong' can throw up a whole range of bestial grandeur, depending on what movies you've seen or what generation you're from. Whether the original, magnificently malevolent anthropoid or a Japanese character actor in a monkey suit, everybody seems to have their own Kong. The image of the lovestruck great ape and the girl he unrequitedly loved, whether doing battle for her against a t-rex in his mythical homeland or swatting biplanes on top of the Empire State Building, has found its way into cartoons, advertising, TV skits, every part of the communications media. When Kong's original female lead, Fay Wray, died in 2003 at the age of 96, they darkened the lights at the top of the building in her honour - just as if she'd really been held captive there. The image and the name of Kong has permeated different world cultures. In India, a wrestler in the Bollywood 'muscleman' movies of the 1950s took on the name 'King Kong'; in Apartheid-era South Africa it was used by a black boxer. In the next two years, cinemagoers will be returning to the great ape's lonely, infernally dangerous home, Skull Island; but before then, let's take a look at the evolution of the great ape.