Homer Numan

Homer Numan

Thursday, October 12, 2006

In Praise Of Autumnwatch

The great thing about UK TV these days is that there's so much of it. With a simple freeview digibox you can get 30 channels of junk instead of just five. But nestling in amongst the dross of 'Big Brother' and 'Emmerdale', you do still find the odd gem.

Enter 'Autumnwatch', a programme which looks like somebody made it up on the back of an envelope, and lavished a budget of £43 on it.

I'm old enough to remember when Bill Oddie was a third of anarchic 70s comedy team; 'The Goodies' (and who can forget Graeme's Garden's wooden performance of 'The Funky Gibbon' on TOTP?) and rather worryingly he looks exactly the same today as he did then.
The show consists of Bill making observations about British wildlife, humoured by his long-suffering lady co-presenter, with some contributions from various sidekicks shipped off to the Outer Hebrides to watch stags rutting and seals frolicking.

Doesn't sound like a good TV format? Maybe so, but by gum and ecky thump it works.

In this digital age of micro-celebrity and the global village, it's almost a shock to discover that there's a whole world out there that doesn't revolve around the minutiae of human existence. Rather like the Americans ignoring the world beyond their borders, most of humanity is blissfilly oblivious to the other occupants of the planet, and it's just great to see programmes like Autumnwatch attempting to redress the balance.

Migrating birds, swans, seal pups and roe deer, all portrayed in their natural habitat, tribal spats and all. It put me in mind of a cartoon I once saw of several giant seal-pups armed with cudgels swaggering into a kids dormitory after lights out, with the delightful caption; 'it's about time we culled these little gits.'

Autumnwatch is a great little programme and actually worth some of the licence fee. On the other hand, that useless prat Jonathan Ross, whose salary would keep Autumnwatch running all year round, would be the perfect subject for a BBC cull -- I'll take the first swing.

Humans? Who needs 'em?


Anonymous said...

by gum and ecky thump?

Me said...

If you weren't around in the 70s, you won't remember 'The Goodies'. They were rather like a poor man's version of Monty Python.
One of their recurring sketches was called 'Ecky Thump', during which Bill Oddie generally thumped people with the equivalent of a large rubber mallet. It directly led to the Falklands War so the series was axed in the early 80s.
Thank you for raising the issue anonymous.

steve said...

This programme along with Planet Earth are worth the TV licence alone!