Most helpful positive review
94 of 96 people found the following review helpful
Setting high standards in excellence
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!