Monday, June 04, 2007

Only on the BBC

Last night as the females watched a combination of shite soaps and shite Big Brother on the TV I took myself upstairs and watched two hours worth of the sort of programming that only the BBC can make and present.

Coast is in its third series now and shows no sign of flagging, a programme that sets out to examine, investigate and describe the history of the British coastline , the first series managed to dash right around the perimieter of the country but the second and now third series are concentrating on the huge chunks that they missed the first time around.

Last nights journey was in the Scottish Northern Isles, Shetland to Orkney, the part of the British Isles that is more Norwegian than British and that cops everything that the Atlantic and Arctic can throw at it, a landscape moulded and brutally carved out by the sea - scenery that made me want to get up there and paint, stuff like this artist does, but the strange thing is that since moving house I have been unable to paint.

Not that I haven't had the opportunity, I have tried, but something is missing at the moment and the stuff I have done, watercolour, pencil, pastel, is crap, still it will return - I hope.

Following hard on the heels of Coast was another new series written and presented by David Dimbleby - royalty in BBC terms - How We Built Britain is all about, well, how we built Britain.

Again this is a programme that only the BBC could commission, its commercial value is low, its interest and educational value is, frankly, priceless - no advertiser would rush to buy a slot inside this programme and no private production company would be interested in spending a large amount of money on such an all-encompassing lesson in social history, and yet when it is done by Dimbleby's team it is un-missable.

The first episode ended with Dimbleby inside Kings College Chapel Cambridge, started in 1443 with the remit to provide a building that would be quite unlike anything that the population had ever seen - and they succeeded. The picture of the stone fan vaulted ceiling (above) shows some of the intricate detail of what is still the largest example of its type in the world, all of this done 600 years ago over a 70 year period by stone masons working from wooden scaffolding with a hammer and chisel - the stone on the ceiling is only 12cm thick over most of its span and yet it still binds together sufficient for Dimbleby to be able to walk across the top of the ceiling in the vaults, sooner him than me.

Downstairs they were still watching Big Brother, I despair some times.

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