Monday, June 27, 2011


The great communicators of recent years have been so because of their inherent gift for allowing their subjects very often to speak for themselves.  John Arlott, Bill McLaren, David Attenborough, even, dare I suggest, Martin Tyler - all have the ability to know when to say something and when to just let the images tell their own stories.

I`ve been watching the latest  in the BBC Coast series and if ever a subject needed little more than a few vocal nudges to get us viewers to appreciate what we were seeing, surely the coastline of the south west of England is it.   Now last night`s edition of `Coast` was originally to have been shown a week ago but was postponed because some Formula One Grand Prix ran over time.   So I had another week to wait until I could sit back, relax and enjoy a whole hour showing me the glories of my favourite part of the world.

Well, I got a few glimpses but mainly I got the various `presenters` quite obviously doing things that appealed to them rather than their wider audience.   We had Nicholas Crane indulging himself on a Brixham trawler (rather than telling us much about Brixham.)   We had Miranda Krestovnikoff doing what she always does by doing some underwater diving  which she could have done anywhere.  We had Dick Strawbridge going on about Trevithick`s high pressure steam engine which, whilst laudable and interesting, has little direct connection with `the coast.`  

But worst of all we had the effete Mark Horton getting it hopelessly wrong with his ramble about TE Lawrence (of Arabia) and the British Powerboat Company.   His spurious claim was that this was really a south west coast `story,`based around Plymouth, when in fact it is one close to my heart in that the British Powerboat Company was founded and developed at my boyhood village of Hythe on Southampton Water by Hubert Scott-Paine and did indeed involve TE Lawrence.   Why else would there be a plaque on the wall of Myrtle Cottage in Shore Road at Hythe where TE Lawrence stayed during his time there?   And why else would one of the newer housing developments in Hythe include `Scott-Paine Drive?`   But it did give Horton the chance to swan around in a Sunseeker speed boat and provide the most unconvincing narrative of his annoying career.

When `Coast` started a few years ago, it seemed then to have the best of intentions and, for a while at least, concentrated admirably on its subject.   Sadly, it has gone the way of most of these long running docu-series in that it has become crassly self-indulgent. But as we already know, when the presenters or reporters become the story, the value of the subject on which they are reporting or presenting is diminished.   And the coastline of Devon and Cornwall deserves better.  

Must try harder.


TGR Worzel said...

I didn't see this episode Snopper, but you're certainly correct about T.E. Lawrence...

Snopper said...

Thanks for the comment, Worzel and apologies for the delay - been away for a week and been without telephones or internet for a fortnight.