SARAH VINE: Attenborough and wildlife prove they're national treasures
SARAH VINE’S My TV Week: Britain’s greatest naturalist and our breathtakingly majestic wildlife prove they’re… national treasures!
- READ MORE: SARAH VINE’S My TV Week: A double bill that’s CRIMINALLY GOOD
David Attenborough. What a man, what an icon, what a career. Also, what’s his secret? At 96 he still possesses the boyish enthusiasm of his youth, standing around on clifftops, the wind whipping his snowy mane as though he had just hiked up there for a quick breath of fresh air.
Is it turmeric in his tea? A glass of sherry before bed? Kombucha? Is he actually a time-travelling alien? Maybe that should be the subject of his next project: David Attenborough, How Not To Get Old.
Meanwhile, he could make a documentary about the vegetable patch in his back garden and I think we would all still watch it. And in some ways, that’s what this is.
At 96 David Attenborough still possesses the boyish enthusiasm of his youth, standing around on clifftops, the wind whipping his snowy mane as though he had just hiked up there for a quick breath of fresh air
Wild Isles is all about Britain, from the northern tip of the Shetland Islands, white birds settling like snow on the cliffs, to the chalk streams of southern England
Wild Isles is all about this island home of ours, this land that most of us take for granted, rushing to and fro in our busy lives, rarely stopping to witness the wonders of nature unfolding before us.
From the northern tip of the Shetland Islands, white birds settling like snow on the cliffs, to the chalk streams of southern England, it’s all rather romantic.
Say what you like about the BBC (and many do), no one does this kind of thing quite as well.
God knows what they’re going to do when Attenborough finally hangs up his windcheater – I can’t see Chris Packham inspiring the same sort of respect, he’s too much of a blunt instrument.
Not that Sir David ever shies away from difficult, highly politicised subjects such as global warming, species extinction, deforestation, and the like; it’s just that he somehow manages to highlight them in a way that doesn’t make the viewer feel they’re under assault.
His is a gentle, erudite, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger approach, and to my mind all the more effective for it. He makes me feel like I don’t want to let him down, whereas Packham just makes me want to switch off.
As ever, the cinematography is outstanding.
Sarah Vine said her favourite bit of the TV show was the puffins. Did you know they mate for life, and return to the same burrow every year to raise a single chick, called a puffling?
A group of killer whales, cruising like gangsters through the cold waters of Scotland, travelling on their sides so as to not let their dorsal fins give them away, plucking a seal pup from the shallows and playing with it before killing it; badgers and bumblebees, kingfishers and damselflies, a heart-meltingly sweet mummy dormouse foraging for honeysuckle with a hungry owl lurking nearby; bluebells and ancient oaks, and a thrilling battle between a barnacle goose and two white-tailed eagles – they’re all here.
My favourite bit was the puffins. Did you know they mate for life, and return to the same burrow every year to raise a single chick, called a puffling?
Honestly, I’ve never witnessed anything as absurdly adorable as these worried little creatures doggedly doing their best to deliver sand eels to their chicks, running the gauntlet of hungry gulls.
The term ‘national treasure’ is overused. But Attenborough is the real deal. Long may he continue.
STRONG WOMAN, SOFT HEART…SUPERB!
Paula Malcomson is superb in this series as Liverpool detective Colette Cunningham, who gets a phone call mid-arrest that turns her life upside down
If the police have a ‘women problem’, it’s not reflected in the TV schedules.
One can hardly move for hard-bitten female cops like Happy Valley’s Catherine Cawood fending off sexist colleagues with one hand while collaring criminals with the other, alongside dealing with deep-seated family traumas and somehow making it home in time for the food delivery.
It’s a crowded space, and it’s hard not to succumb to the clichés of such a well-worn genre. That said, Paula Malcomson is superb in this series as Liverpool detective Colette Cunningham, who gets a phone call mid-arrest that turns her life upside down.
Turns out her estranged daughter, who left home at 17 and hasn’t been heard of for two decades, has washed up dead in a park in Dublin, leaving behind teenage children Cara and Liam (left, with Colette) and a holdall full of rolled-up euros and pills.
Cunningham transfers to the local Garda, ostensibly to take care of the children but really because she doesn’t believe her daughter killed herself.
The format may be well-worn, but the performances are strong, the action comes thick and fast and the atmosphere is raw and intense.
Malcomson inhabits her character with confidence, and there’s a fine cast of supporting actors, including Siobhán McSweeney – the terrifying Sister Michael in Derry Girls, here cast as Cunningham’s equally terrifying nemesis, fellow officer Jane Connolly. If you like shows about strong women with soft hearts, this is one for you.
Christine’s on a mission
Christine McGuinness is campaigning for better awareness of the condition, which affects her and the couple’s three children
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Christine McGuinness: The Secret World Of Autistic Women (Wednesday, BBC1).
A rash of celebs have recently been diagnosed with such conditions as autism and ADHD, and this felt a tiny bit like hopping on a bandwagon.
Yes, this is personality-led TV, but McGuinness (above, recently separated from Top Gear’s Paddy) is clearly sincere in her efforts to campaign for better awareness of the condition, which affects her and the couple’s three children.
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