On the face of it, this doesn't sound like the most rivetting viewing in the world, but in fact this series was the television equivalent of a page-turner.
Normally I'm not a fan of documentaries that feature "reconstructions", usually by dodgy actors with sub-standard props and inept scripts, and I watched the first episode almost by accident. However, within minutes I was hooked.
The documentaries take the form of re-enactments, beautifully realized, of actual events, based on the diaries, newspaper reports and records of the times. The actors are uniformly excellent - Robert Cavanah, Ron Cook, Mark McGann and Steven Berkoff in particular stick in the memory - and the stories that unfold are nothing less than jaw-dropping.
From the beginning-to-end disaster that was the Great Eastern (which effectively killed Brunel) through the magnificent Bell Rock Lighthouse, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal and the Trans-Continental railway to Bazalgette's London Sewers (not recommended lunch-time viewing by the way), this gripping series will open your eyes to the pure wonder of constructions we now tend to take for granted. The phenomenal and inspiring vision of the engineers (often in the face of a disbelieving establishment), the cost in human life, the privations, the disasters and the triumphs ... they're all here, with no punches pulled.
The whole thing is held together by Robert Lindsay's measured and intelligent narration - never intrusive, beautifully delivered.
The BBC took an expensive gamble with the making of this series ... but it paid off.
Highly recommended for both the casual viewer and the more serious student of the Industrial Age.