Recent Television Reviews

Well it has been a veritable delight of televisual output from the BBC in recent weeks with “Lost Land of the Jaguar” and “Britain from Above”. If you have missed any of these and are lucky enough to have access to the iPlayer I would recommend a catch-up, otherwise clips have been placed on YouTube and are available from the programmes pages on the BBC website.

Britain_from_above_3

(Screenshots taken from BBC website all rights remain with BBC)

Firstly, Lost Land of the Jaguar reaches its climax tonight. This has been a three part series following an international team of explorers, scientists and film makers through the spectacular landscape of Guyana, discovering new species yet to be described to science, highlighting the sheer diversity of wildlife an unspoilt tropical rainforest has to offer. Dr_george_mcgavin_and_a_frangipan_3
The camera techniques, using a mixture of human and computer operated systems, have been outstanding, although personally a little too much concentration on the face of the enthusiastic expert – At one point I was shouting at the TV “Show me the animal then instead of your head and telling me what it is doing, I want to see” as the expert described the hunting of the giant otter.
However, that being said the endless enthusiasm and excitement of the team, especially Dr. George McGavin (pictured), washes over you. I became fixed to the screen wanting to see what they discover next. I would recommend this series to everyone and being shot in HD it is truly breathtaking in rich landscapes. I have already got the unreleased DVD on my wishlist and will happily place it next to Planet Earth and Earth: The Power of the Planet

This brings me nicely onto Britain from Above, first episode shown on Sunday 10 August. This series takes “an epic journey revealing the secrets, patterns and hidden rhythms of our lives from a striking new perspective”. A mix of traditional camera techniques with cutting edge computer technologies and mapping techniques are used to show the visible and "invisible" story of the British Isles. The first episode, showed "24hr Britain", a story of what happens during an average working day. I was impressed by the gorgeous visualisations shown during the first programme, each having a purpose, telling their own little story e.g. the GPS traces of London Taxi’s, also the activity of the UK telephone network over 24hrs. This series is very much a “popular” geosciences programme and along with its companion show on BBC2 (History based change over time of London City and the countryside of East Anglia) again has me hooked to my TV screen instead of it just being background noise. One question that I was asking myself, and it seems I was not alone, was how did the BBC manage to get permission to use the data sources to create the visualisations and how could other organisations or groups learn from the BBC?

Overall, a big congratulations to the BBC for these outputs – I hope that the top quality programming will continue to grace the TV screen, as well as my DVD collection.

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