Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Look Out, Autumn's About!


I couldn't quite get my head round BBC's Autumnwatch. What started out being a very worthy attempt to let us see dormice putting their pyjamas on before going to sleep live on camera, has somehow degenerated into lively presenters sitting on a sofa joshing and ruffling each others' hair. The one bloke who appears to do any work just sits smiling in the dark outside some Highland croft and then shows us film he shot yesterday in broad daylight. But at least we now don't have to put up with that little chap from The Goodies grumpily anthromorphising everything in sight. So I wearily switched off and reached for What To Look For In Autumn, a Ladybird Book written by E.L.Grant Watson and illustrated superbly by Charles Tunnicliffe. I then took to wandering about the lanes in my patch of country, marvelling at just how much is still as he pictured it in 1960. A shepherd in a sheep fold (well, a bloke in a four-wheel-drive), a pale moon lighting the church tower, traveller's joy smoking the hedgerows, a bonfire lit at a field edge and pheasants strutting their stuff over rotting fungi-covered logs on the margins of the woods. And not a ratings-safe presenter with a stack of prompt cards to be seen anywhere.

14 comments:

Thud said...

People lament the passing of much of what they remember of England, you show here just what is out there if one bothers to look.

Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou Thud, you've encapsulated exactly what I try to do.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Agreed. It should be our mission, if that's not putting it too strongly, to alert people to what is still there. And Tunnicliffe's work is a beautiful medium through which to do this – good to see it, and that it's as effective now as it was all those decades ago when it was drawn.

CMS said...

Ooooh you grumpy old man, you!! Autumnwatch has it's merits. In a world of X Factor and nobodies in jungles it's an absolute treat!!

Thud said...

Peter and Phillip,I have long considered leaving England for the good of my very young children,thanks in no small part to blogs such as this I am at least thinking about the timing of my move more closely, so please for those less able to explore, continue to show just how much of the quite beauty still survives.

Peter Ashley said...

You're right of course CMS. And I should be grateful that there's some antidote to 'Strictly' and the wretched humiliations of X-Factor.

And don't go Thud, it's all here waiting!

Martin H. said...

Peter, there are antidotes to the relentless selection of bilge that threatens to engulf us from the five main television channels, and most of them seem to be on BBC4. The recent 1920s/30s/Art Deco season was really rather entertaining.

And I'm glad that I'm not the only one who has been irritated by Mr. Oddie's self-conscious pontificating. It's all gone horribly wrong, hasn't it? I seem to remember that, around the time when BBC2 was new, television was quite good, but of course I may be mistaken.

Peter Ashley said...

Currently I only have the earthbound channels, but I am led to understand that BBC4 is something of a haven from the usual dross. So, in moments of greatest doubt and sorrow, I content myself with DVDs of old BBC content: Ken Russell's Omnibus films and M.R.James' ghost stories, that sort of thing.

johannajamerson0719 said...

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Martin H. said...

We quite often resort to the DVD solution ourselves. What a blessing so much good stuff is available now! We have recently particularly enjoyed 'Victorian Farm'. The British Transprt Films Collection is well worth acquiring too.

Martin H. said...

Incidentally, I have just investigated the 'Ken Russell at the BBC'DVD as I didn't know about it, and it appears that it is only available in America on a Region 1 DVD. So it's no good buying it unless you have forked out for a multi-region player. How ridiculous.

Peter Ashley said...

Martin H: Sorry you've had problems getting the BBC stuff. The BFI produced a rack of films on DVD a few years ago, but they now appear to be missing from their website. But a quick search for two titles on Amazon revealed Ken Russell's Elgar and Jonathan Miller's Alice in Wonderland to still be available, if expensive.

Martin H. said...

Thank you, Peter. I had forgotten about Jonathan Miller's 'Alice'. £20 or £30 for a DVD is a bit daunting, though. I might have a trawl through ebay from time to time.

Isabella Golightly said...

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