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4.6 out of 5 stars
British Isles: A Natural History [DVD] [2004]
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94 of 96 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2004
I wrote a review of the book of the series, basically explaining that while I found the subject matter fascinating, putting Alan Titchmarsh's name to the volume was hardly convincing. This is a major television series, it has obviously drawn on the resources of scores of experts in their various fields, yet to present the book under the name of a television gardener seemed to be an act of exploitation, using celebrity to sell a product.
Conversely, I think one of the reasons the television series works so well is because Alan Titchmarsh was chosen to act as its presenter! He's an excellent choice. Titchmarsh is a great communicator. He comes across as intelligent, informed, affable, a nice, honest, decent bloke who wouldn't sell you short. I didn't think it was appropriate to put his name to the book, but I think he does a superb job presenting the television series.
The series as a whole is a first class production. The use of special effects to reveal the changing face of our little corner of the planet works wonderfully, and Titchmarsh's commentary provides an intelligent, never patronising analysis of the changes which have befallen the British Isles. Titchmarsh appears as 'the ordinary bloke', overseeing the changing geology of these islands, commenting on the emergence and disappearance of flora and fauna, noting the emergence and expansion of human settlements, and, acting a touch like the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come, speculating on what changes the future might hold.
This is a superbly filmed and edited piece of education. It is enlightening. It is a voyage of discovery. What the BBC offer here is a biography of the British Isles. Like any good biography, it shouldn't leave you convinced you know everything there is to know about the subject - it should leave you inspired to find out more. And Titchmarsh plays his part here. His enthusiasm and interest is infectious. He doesn't just tell a sterile story or read from a script - he breathes life into the pictures. You can see the excitement he feels, you sense you are joining him on a voyage of discovery, and it's thrilling. You want to go out and walk the land, understand the geology, pause to look at the mountains before you and the ground beneath your feet.
"British Isles: A Natural History" is excellent, living up to the BBC's extraordinary standards of entertainment-come- education, and the DVD release is something you can treasure, revisiting it again and again to find fresh stimulation and spot aspects of the story you hadn't noticed before. Superb!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2007
I am an American who loves the countryside and wilderness of the UK; this series was never shown nor released in America, but reading the description I took a chance on it. I was not disappointed. Alan Titchmarsh's affection for his homeland is engaging and infectious, and turns what could have been a dry subject into a fascinating journey into Britain's past, present and possible future. A science lesson with the flair of a travelogue, British Isles: A Natural History is one of the best series of its kind I've seen.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2006
I bought the DVD's for my Husbands birthday and despite the negative feedback from some, we are delighted with the content. Being keen walkers and sailors (a bit like Mr T himself) we can appreciate why looking at mountains from helicopters is a good thing and quite frankly seeing the Dorset (Jurassic) coastline from a boat is the only way to see it. Well done the BBC.

Alan is a superb presenter and is very interesting in the way he approaches the subject matter. You can not fail to be impressed with how this island has changed and how much we have taken for granted. We now look at rock formations in a different light whilst walking and it often prompts a conversation or two.

The BBC excels at doing this kind of thing and long may it continue.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2006
Having seen this series on TV, I had to buy the DVD's. It is totally brilliant and informative.

The personable Alan Titchmarsh might not be a geologist but he loves the land and speaks with authority, unlike narrators of similar series who are simply actors reading a script. For instance, a more recent(?) series "Wild Europe" has dreary repetitive narration, read by Sean Pertwee at Primary School pace, and relies heavily on repetition of both words and camera shots -- it's as weak as a National Geographic documentary.

"British Isles: A Natural History", on the other hand, is a constant and captivating flow of scenery, geology, and history, with some breathtaking photography and convincing computer graphics. I've just watched it for the third time, and will be viewing it all over again ere long. Every time, there's something new, fascinating, and worthwhile to see and hear.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2008
I happen to study history in university, and have touched upon some of the subjects that are disscussed in the book and TV series, and I have to say that I thought both the book and series were fantastic. And to all those complaining about Titchmarch, whats the problem? He obviously is going to know his stuff about Horticulture, being a gardener, and yes its obvious that anyone presenting this TV show is going to need lots of expert help, who wouldnt! You dont get just one expert who is going to know about eveything from volcanos to ice-cores thats ridicilous! I thought he happened to be the perfect choice to be the presenter, as his voice is pleasent to listen to, and his enthusiasm is very watchable, and in turn makes the audience want to know more, I certainly did! From me, I believe it does deserve five stars.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2006
My husband bought this DVD set for a present. I thought it was fantastic. Alan Titmarsh is an excellent presenter and explains the natural history of the British Iles in a way that is understood and really sinks in. Enjoyment for all the family. Highly recommended.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2004
To anyone who wishes to learn more about nature and how it has created and changed the landscape through time and man, the BBC1 series- British Isles: A Natural History is an absolute must. Alan Titchmarsh is at his usual best presenting this series explaining in such detail that is not to overwhelm the viewer, but more to 'entertainingly educate' with his humour and extensive hoticultural knowledge.
Taking the viewer to all parts of the country with spectacular arial views sweeping across the landscape, this series in it's own very unique way, shows us once again how we are all interconnected by nature and the great impact it has as on us, and how we have changed it-for better and for worse.
British Isles: A Natural History is brilliant!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2008
This dvd psckage is well worth the cost to purchase it. Alan Titchmarsh is the perfect presenter. The core subjects investigated and the camera shots are interesting and gripping. A really good series.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 30 April 2005
It was on tv, but I kept missing it, so I'm glad I got the DVD instead.
It's interesting and easy to watch. It may deal with some things you already know but it is presented so well that it's still very enjoyable with plenty of variety. And natural history is so amazing when gone through at a pace. I'm not that familiar with Alan Titchmarsh, I thought he just did gardening or religious programmes, but he is an excellent presenter. He makes it informative as well as entertaining, and he can't resist adding in a touch of humour here and there - like "testing" lots of whiskey or cream cakes, all in the interests of research, of course!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2009
stunning scenery and delicate special effects show this country at its best. you see what a stunning land we live in. even if you don't care for twitmarsh, the footage is worth it. Pretty pictures at their best.
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