Spectacular Snowy Scenes – I love Frozen Planet

December 4, 2011

Wednesday nights at 9pm has been must-see TV for the last few weeks. No I’m not talking about people designing new houses or deciding which has-been should be crowned the new ‘king-of-the-jungle’. This is a far simpler, yet at the same time infinitely more complex hour of television that has taken it’s viewers thousands of miles from our comfort zones and shown us scenery, creatures and worlds we could never imagine.

‘Frozen Planet’ has been yet another landmark documentary series from the BBC, whisking viewers to both the South and North Pole to witness life in the most extreme locations of our planet. Over the past six weeks, we have been treated to shots of Polar Bears, Seals, Killer Whales, Penguins, Reindeer, Boars and Snow Leopards and more in their natural habitat – all in High Definition.

With David Attenborough narrating (well who else?!) the show has done a sterling job of explaining the creatures lives in the poles as they fight to survive – whilst also remaining one of the most entertaining shows on the box. Unlike many other wildlife show, there’s no on-screen presenter and instead Attenborough acts as a narrator on the fascinating stories we see unfolding in front of us.

And we do get to see everything that happens, including a great deal of upsetting scenes. One moment it can be young playful Polar Bears, the next it’s Wolves attacking a herd of Boars in a fight  to the death. Some have criticised these scenes, claiming it’s wrong to show these sometimes brutal fights on screen. But I’d disagree with this, the show simply shows you the fight for survival at the poles, to edit any of it would be to ruin what the filmmakers are trying to achieve.

I think most people who have watched over the last few weeks would agree that one species of animal has been a highlight amongst others. I have fallen in love with the Penguins on this show. From their cheeky manner (the fist episode showed one Penguin stealing stones from another when his back was turned) to their phenomenal speed as they launch out of the water and on to land and to their remarkable struggle to stand, defiantly in face of extreme weather to defend their young. The Penguins involvement in the show has been fascinating.

Unlike many other wildlife shows, humans have also been a subject of ‘Frozen Planet’. Last week’s programme saw us follow the lives of the people in the Polar regions. The show documented their own fight for food – no going to Sainsbury’s for your eggs here, instead you’ll be abseiling down a cliff. We saw how they too interact with the animals there and interestingly how Penguins seem to actually ignore the human’s existence – domesticated already!

‘Frozen Planet’ is actually the third show in a series of wildlife shows co-produced by the BBC and the Discovery Channel – starting with Blue Planet (2001) and Planet Earth (2006). One of the things I have loved about this trilogy has been the effort made in the filming -taking up to four years to film a series. To celebrate this, we get to see a 10 minute ‘behind the scenes’ of every episode. In some ways I find this even more fascinating than the wildlife itself – seeing just how close and to what lengths the production crew go to to get their shots. I for one would not like to spend 2 months alone in a flimsy shack in the arctic -regardless of how many penguins are outside the door!

There is now only one show left of ‘Frozen Planet’, focusing on Attenborough himself journeying to the ‘Frozen Planet’ to see the action for himself as well as natural wonders such as Glaciers. And I think that it has been scenes such as the Glaciers and ice-sculptures that have set this series apart for me. Blue Planet and Planet Earth gave us amazing animal shots, but Frozen Planet has a backdrop beyond anything else – absolutely breathtaking.

I’m proud of the BBC for this trilogy of programmes, they’re the sort of thing that other broadcasters often shy away from due to the extreme expense for often disappointing viewing figures. Luckily ‘Frozen Planet’ has been very popular, charting the highest wildlife ratings since 2001. But I do wonder, in the current financial climate, if the BBC will commit to such an investment again any time soon. For the sake of creative and original TV, I really hope they do.

The final ‘Frozen Planet’ is on this Wednesday at 9 on BBC One, if you missed the series it’s all on BBC iPlayer or you can watch a compilation episode which is planned to be screened over Christmas.

On the #Clarkson outrage

December 2, 2011

You’d have to have been living under a rock the size of Manhattan not to have noticed the massive outpouring of rage vented mostly across Twitter in the last two days. All this anger was channelled towards one man, with one hashtag – #clarkson. So I thought I’d join in and add my two penn’s this ever-increasing pot!

In case you are in any doubt over what happened, Jeremy Clakson appeared on ‘The One Show’ on Wednesday. When asked what he thought about striking Nurses, he  claimed that he thought they were wrong to do it and that he would have them all shot in front of their families.

OK, so it wasn’t Clarkson’s finest moment, but as you can see from the clip here, his intentions were clearly tongue in cheek. He goes on to make a mockery of the fact he doesn’t exactly work a tough job for his salary. It was sarcastic and satire, it was not ever meant to be a personal attack.

But this is what many took it to be. Angered public sector workers took to the social networks to argue their point. A few famous faces on the site picked up on the story and started stating their point, making this already a bigger topic than it should have been. This got the interest of the Union’s, particularly Unison who decided that this was outrageous and claimed they would not settle until Clarkson was sacked. In fact, Unison went as far as to seek legal advise over the comments.

Wait a moment, what’s happened here! Clarkson was simply putting across his views (that public sector strikes were wrong – but at the same time he could see their reasoning behind them) but doing it in his style. This is Jeremy Clarkson’s brand, it always has been. If Jimmy Carr was to make the same joke on 8 out of 10 cats, no-one would have batted an eyelid. Granted the timing was a bit out – 7pm BBC One isn’t the best place to make a risque joke, but that’s all it was. There’s no need for Unison to waste a whole heap of their members money on legal advice for a joke.

Perhaps instead of getting in a rage over the situation, the people involved should grow some thicker skin – what was that old English phrase again, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” If you are against those views, don’t let the bother you, change the channel and continue with your lives – don’t get stuck cursing the thing you hate.

And I’m not saying that people aren’t allowed to be offended by the comments, but people have been acting like Clarkson actually carried out these executions instead of using the words to make a point.

Of course, a lot of this may not have happened if it wasn’t for the ‘wondrous’ services available on the internet. As Padraig Reidy argues here, without YouTube to view it (lets face it, more people saw it online than the original transmission) and Twitter to start the wildfire, people may have already forgotten the comment even existed. Instead, the main focus may still be on the faltering Government who thanks to Clarkson stealing the limelight, seem to have got away lightly from the strike action. Instead it seems our ‘me-too’, ‘+1’, ‘bandwagon-jumping’ culture has only strengthened and made us forget the bigger issues in life.

At the time of writing, Clarkson has now apologised, the unions have stepped down (despite official BBC complaints reaching 21,000) and the term #clarkson has stopped trending on Twitter. Maybe we can just file this one under ‘bonkers Britain’ and move on. But whenever another of these mass-outrage-at-a-joke situations flares up I always get a bit sad that in this country we have week and truly lost our sense of humour and ability to laugh at ourselves – and that is the truly disappointing outcome of this whole debacle…




What it’s about

Stupidity of it

My viewpoint

idea of people jumping on bandwagon

Sad fact that we have lost sense of humour