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249 of 252 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Portrayal of British Landscape, Literature, Art and Music
This BBC series presented by David Dimbleby is first class. It's a feast of British landscape in all its variety and in all weathers, showing how it influenced British writers, artists, and composers. It really is a wonderful illustration of how much has changed and how much has not - there are certain areas of British landscape that retain a timelessness, such as...
Published on 9 July 2006 by David Lusher

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Adequate
Great subject matter. Beautiful scenery. The presenter knows his subject. But there is too, too much presenter and not enough subject. Please Mr. Dimbleby, don't get into every frame. We really don't want to watch you. We want to watch what you are presenting. The subject is the star. Not you.
Published on 2 Sept. 2010 by Roscoe


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249 of 252 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Portrayal of British Landscape, Literature, Art and Music, 9 July 2006
By 
David Lusher (London England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Picture Of Britain - Complete BBC TV Series [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
This BBC series presented by David Dimbleby is first class. It's a feast of British landscape in all its variety and in all weathers, showing how it influenced British writers, artists, and composers. It really is a wonderful illustration of how much has changed and how much has not - there are certain areas of British landscape that retain a timelessness, such as Snowdonia or the Scottish Highlands.

This 2-disc set is a bargain and I recommend it very highly indeed, either as an appreciation of these islands to British people, or as a wonderful and portable souvenir of Britain for the many tourists and visitors that come here each year.

David Dimbleby's presentation is just right and he lets the landscape do most of the talking. But a great strength of the programme is the wonderful music soundtrack - it really is marvellous, and I wish this could be made available as a companion release to the series.
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146 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND, 12 Mar. 2006
By 
Adrian Duffield-Brown (Old Oxted, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Picture Of Britain - Complete BBC TV Series [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
If you want to see Britain at its best with hills and dales, cliffs or crags, rivers and Lochs, and seen from the eyes of poets, artists, and dreamers. Then this DVD will give you insight to what Britain was in a bygone age, and as it is now today in the British Countryside. David Dimbleby has managed to capture what it is to be British in this glorious land of ours, poets and artists from our past managed to put into words how beautiful our country is, who painted our landscapes in all weathers. The BBC with David Dimbleby have made a masterpiece in its own right showing this country in good light and to which we should be proud. Our country is undergoing another great change, good or bad, but change it will, and this DVD will be a time capsule for our future generations.
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119 of 121 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A landscape alive with visions", 9 Mar. 2008
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Picture Of Britain - Complete BBC TV Series [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
The words are those of mystical poet William Blake when staying in a cottage in Sussex, and the description can be aptly applied to this whole worthy production.

Written and presented by David Dimbleby, this six-part series has five different directors, but under the same executive producer, Basil Comely, the same guy who produced the excellent "Francesco's Venice". Thus, each programme is slightly different in some way - more thematic perhaps, or involving a lesser number of interviewees - but all of the episodes run together under the same overall format.

As with "Francesco's Venice" this DVD is worth it as much for its excellent photography - in all seasons, in all weathers, both night and day - than for its story. The landscapes are often breathtaking, and the camera has been used imaginatively too, for example intermingling older paintings with modern scenery (a feature of episode five). The original music is an almost continuous soundtrack, full of colour and brilliance composed by Andrew Blaney. (But did I hear music from The Lord of the Rings at one point?)

The six episodes are based on geographical areas, so to a certain extent the series is a travelogue as well as a documentary. The first, "The Romantic North", starts in the Lake District where Dimbleby introduces the change in attitudes to the landscape that took place in the mid-eighteenth century, when wildernesses were seen as places of great beauty rather than as places of barbarity. In fact, he rather too emphatically places the birth of the picturesque to the year 1752 and the author John Brown, before then going on to the rules of William Gilpin and the poetic responses of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

The literary angle is one that often re-appears throughout the series: this is not just a programme about the painted picture of Britain, but also the literary portrait and the musical sketch too, though these are not so pronounced. Nevertheless, they are a constant feature, so that we hear quotes from the works of Emily Bronte, Rupert Brooke, John Clare, WB Yeats, Robbie Burns, Charles Dickens, William Morris, Rudyard Kipling; and the list goes on. As for music, we hear, in their geographical context, from works by Holst, Vaughan Williams, Britten, MacCunn, Mendelssohn (for Fingal's Cave), Butterworth, and Elgar.

As he moves about the country Dimbleby talks with a variety of people, from Helvellyn's mountain-rescue guide to a geologist panning for gold in the Welsh hills. Along the way he engages with farmers, wherrymen, tourists, and artists. Episode one covers the Lake District, Northumbria, Yorkshire; episode two ("The Flatlands") travels through Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire; Scotland and Ireland are the subject of "Highlands and Glens", the third programme; whilst the fourth "The Heart of England" visits an unwieldy mixture of places from Manchester at the time of the industrial revolution, through Derbyshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, the Cotswolds and the Malvern Hills; the fifth episode, "The Home Front", focuses on the Isle of Wight, Hampshire and Sussex; and the final part, "The Mystical West" visits Wales, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall.

The series officially highlights over one hundred paintings, covering in time from Gainsborough all the way up to the present day: there are interviews with contemporary artists Maggi Hambling and David Inshaw. Most are from the nineteenth century. The one artist who features in all six programmes is the magnificent and ubiquitous Turner. Using the pause button, you can appreciate all the featured works at your leisure.

The choice of pictures is presumably Dimbleby's own, although the series is a collaboration between the BBC and The Tate, and was linked to an exhibition of many of the paintings featured when the series was first broadcast. No doubt, there are complaints of omission from all parts of Britain about local painters who have been overlooked. From my own neck of the woods, for example, there is no mention of Widgery's Dartmoor scenes or Condy's of the Tamar Valley. Nevertheless, overall I found the journey enjoyable and fulfilling, and I learned a great deal. Many of the artists featured are well-known names; but equally many were new to me. I even had my opinion on Constable changed after seeing his interpretation of Hadleigh Castle.

This is in some regards a personal journey for Dimbleby himself. We see him on his sailing boat in Devon and amongst the landscape of his home on the South Downs in Sussex. There is even archive film of him and his younger brother Jonathan making a film when they were in the teens. But this personal aspect never intrudes too much into the story that Dimbleby has to tell. However, he does have a dangerous habit of addressing the camera whilst driving his Land Rover along the roads of Britain.

Dimbleby is engaging and erudite, often witty, commenting, for example, on how Landseer realised that a wealthy man would pay more for a picture of his dog than for his wife. He has a nice turn of phrase, for instance, while referring to Portsmouth he says that, "When Britain ruled the waves, this was her throne." And he is not a bad painter himself, as demonstrated in the first episode.

Overall then, a magical journey around Britain's scenery as seen through the eyes of its landscape painters.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Britain at its most gorgeous., 8 Aug. 2008
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This review is from: A Picture Of Britain - Complete BBC TV Series [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
I first saw this series a few months ago on Sky, where it was shown in one, long sitting. It was far too much information to take in in a single sitting, but I knew I'd have to find the DVD to watch it over and over in a more relaxed way. I finally have it, and I have just watched the first episode agin.

As an Australian who has lived in the UK for 2 years, this series shows the Britain I fell in love with as a teenager when I came here with my parents on holiday. This isn't the Britain of the evening news; of knife crimes, abductions, political fights and broken public transport. It also isn't the Britain that most people who live in this country see - the ugly New Towns and motorways, the grotty inner suburbs of the major cities, the horrible architecture of the post-war era.

This is the Britain that is all beauty, and shows the countryside that inspired some of the greatest paintings of the past 300 years.

There are plenty of places in the UK where nature, sublime beauty and gorgeous scenery reigns. The Norfolk Broads, the Lake District, the Highlands of Scotland, the Peak District. This wonderful series will take you there and show you a Britain that, alas, isn't shown enough. And it this price, how can anyone not want to buy a copy?
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Viewing, 9 Feb. 2008
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P. A. Tamblyn "Phill735" (Victoria Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Picture Of Britain - Complete BBC TV Series [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
I had very little or no intrest in art when I watched this film and I realy enjoyed this series. Very well presented and full of interesting information, not only about art, but periods in history, places, people, myths, tourism, industrial revolution, landscapes and more. I wasnt expecting anything this good when I bought this dvd. there are six one hour episodes , well worth the price of admition.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and real value for money, 20 May 2008
By 
W. Hutchinson "whutchin2" (Perth, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Picture Of Britain - Complete BBC TV Series [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
David Dimbleby takes you around Britain using paintings to track the landscapes. He eloquently and charmingly explores not only the landscape with the people who live there. It gave me an excellent insight into parts of Britain I know little of. Maybe next time I am there, I will try to find some of these beautiful and interesting places.
Sometimes the background music dominates the programme (especially in the fifth episode - The Home Front). It is quite annoying when music is playing at the same time as David is trying to speak, and the use of odd noises really is distracting. I can see no point in playing music over the sound of crashing waves when it drowns out the natural sounds of the sea.
However, a great series of programmes that are pleasant to watch, and presented brilliantly. As an addendum - David I loved your boat, it is just like the one I want!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Picture Of David Dimbleby, 8 Oct. 2009
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Could be a wonderful series indeed - if there wouldn't be some Mr Dimbleby (who seems to be very fond of himself) blocking one's view of nearly every beautiful picture (landscape/architectural highlight/painting) shown within. Actually his permanent gesticulating, walking or driving (by car) throughout this "Picture of Britain" annoyed me so much that I could hardly stand to finish watching it. What a pitty: a little less commentary in favour of (much more pleasurable) silent admiration would have been perfect - and only therefore one star less !
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable!, 30 July 2007
By 
Momchil Emilov (Shumen, Bulgaria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Picture Of Britain - Complete BBC TV Series [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
I've been to Britain just once, as I live in Bulgaria. But to tell you the truth, I ordered that DVD (set of 2 DVDs) as I need a reminder and remembrance of the glorious scenery. When I got it, I kept watching it for hours. And I showed the films to my parents and my grandparents, without even needing to translate it, as the images spoke for themselves. There's more than British scenery, but I cannot find words to describe it. Wonderful, marvelous films!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Class Series, 23 Jun. 2008
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Dianne Hardwick (Brisbane) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Picture Of Britain - Complete BBC TV Series [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
An excellent series showing the inspiration to be found in the diverse landscapes of the British Isles. Every episode is informative and conducted with that personal touch of humour David Dimbleby employs. Ideal for the armchair traveller or people planning a journey around Britain. The DVD makes an excellent companion to the later "How We Built Britain". Enjoyable, quality television.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Home of the sublime, 18 Sept. 2007
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This review is from: A Picture Of Britain - Complete BBC TV Series [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
This realy is excellent. David Dimbleby tours Great Britain and Northern Ireland to commune with the artists , poets and writers who have used it for inspiration.

This would make a fine introduction to the vistas and scenery of rural Britain for any foreigner or, come to think of it, a reminder for an expat.

We also get to see another side of pre-eminent journalist David Dimbleby; at times it's quite a personal journey of his which he clearly enjoyed immensely.

There is also interesting use of perspective and movement of the camera as it tries to breath life into the two dimensional artwork.

My only quibble is that when the film unit filmed the Malvern Hills, in 'Elgar Country', it did so at dusk thus showing the hills in near darkness. I think that the visit was rushed and that the recording of the scenes must have started very late one afternoon.

(I have the 2 disc DVD edition)
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