Top positive review
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A compelling survey of Scotland's history presented in Neil Oliver's typically informative, engaging & intensely personal style
on 7 November 2016
As a hybrid Scot, mixed Scottish and English heritage, living in the Highlands it seemed essential to get to grips with an overview of the history of Scotland. As one who has enjoyed Neil Oliver's personal takes on the TV 'Coast' series it seemed likely that he would be an entertaining and informative guide to his own country.
This expectation has proved to be true for both myself and my, English, wife who found the whole series to be equally compelling. Neil Oliver is never short on enthusiasm and often spikes his dialogue with humorous side lines such as Ann, a sizeable Queen of England, requiring a square coffin! This mixture of accurate historical detail enlivened by possibly irreverent comment will be engrossing for those who warm to his 'Coast' contributions but may be irritating to those who don't! One can never be in doubt about his passion concerning the subject and in this respect he shares his knowledgeable and committed style with the likes of David Attenborough. There is never a suggestion of reading a script - this comes straight from the heart with added intensity!
The video content is well up to BBC standards and features plenty of stunning Scottish scenery. There is some repetition of slow motion images such as falling goblets and spilt blood on floors but, as this is probably preferable to seeing blood shed in reality, it should not prove to be much of an obstacle to enjoyment. The same can be said of the musical soundtrack which has far more appropriate character than much to be found swamping the sounds of nature on wildlife documentaries for example.
The two sixty minute documentaries provided as bonus material and covering the advent of Christianity in Ireland and then Scotland is of adequate interest but unlikely to be re-visited for repeat viewing. The total content could have been usefully reduced to one episode without loss as there is a shortage of new visual material for 120 minutes. The accompanying educational content tends to be somewhat repetitive, revisiting ideas from different but similar viewpoints to reinforce simple ideas. Not too much need be made of this though as, for most purchasers, the focus will be on the excellent ten-part 'History of Scotland.'
This is a compelling survey of key moments in Scotland's history presented in Neil Oliver's typically informative, engaging and intensely personal style.