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Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Sacred nonsense on the BBC

Is it just me, or are BBC programmes now being dummed down to such an extent that we are all supposed to just sit in front of the telly and switch off our brains?  It was my misfortune last night to watch episode 2 of the latest BBC history offering -- Neil Oliver and the sacred wonders of Bronze Age and Iron Age Britain. 

How to fill an hour with unadulterated whimsy and fantasy -- and not a fact in sight.  Are all of the senior archaeologists in the UK similarly infected by this tendency to fantasise to an extraordinary degree, on the basis of virtually no evidence?  Francis Pryor, Barry Cunliffe etc etc -- they are all at it.......  oh dear oh dear.

Thank goodness I missed the first programme -- on the Neolithic.  I would probably have succumbed to a fit of apoplexy.

15 comments:

chris johnson said...

The glimpses we were permitted of Flag Fen and Maiden Castle were very interesting and made it worthwhile watching, although I share your irritation about the BBC approach and Neil Oliver in particular. It is beyond me why he is encouraged to indulge himself and why the BBC seeks to sensationalise a topic that does not need any sexing up to be interesting to many people.

More facts please and fewer talking heads.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Quite agree, Chris. I'm as happy as anybody else to see "sacred associations" tied to specific features -- but this was all so wildly over the top as to be laughable.

TonyH said...

Isn't Neil Oliver a sort of modern -day equivalent of Dad's Army's John Laurie who first made his name in pre - WW2 film comedies? Both are Scottish with wild eyes with independently - minded eyebrows - it's troooo!

On a more serious note, I've yet to watch the approx 85% of the episode I managed to record from last night's broadcast; and apologies for even drawing it to Brian's attention via this Blog!!! yesterday!

Jon Morris said...

Haven't watched any of them. Starting to look as if I made the right choice.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Don't apologise, Tony -- one does derive a grotesque sort of pleasure from watching total nonsense......

BRIAN JOHN said...

Don't apologise, Tony -- one does derive a grotesque sort of pleasure from watching total nonsense......

TonyH said...

"Neil Oliver is to Archaeology what [Sir!] Alan Sugar is to Business wheeler-dealing: discuss."

T onyH said...

Neil Oliver's decision to follow in the enormous footsteps of thespian John Laurie is of course admirable.

For younger Bloggers, here is John as Private Fraser in Dad's Army waxing eloquent, as was his wont, this time on the subject of "The Auld Empty Barn":

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr_v_SqJNjA

DavidF said...

Just watching the first episode on its repeat and I did indeed react as Brian suggests, apoplexy to such an extent that I googled and found this thread. Reassuring to find I'm not alone. John Laurie - too true.

chris johnson said...

Another cringe worthy program last night on early Christianity.

What a shame that they wasted all those resources and camera skills on such a narrative and such a presentation.

Anonymous said...

Sacre bleu! Bu I much prefer the magical Katherine Jenkins to this Neil...Oliver.

Raymond Blanc

TonyH said...

Neil is a patron of the Association of Lighthouse Keepers............

TonyH said...

Much prefer historian and Anglo-Saxon linguist Michael Wood to Neil Oliver. This week we had the curious contrast, on successive BBC nights, between these two. Neil was predictably enough rolling those piercing eyes camerawards as he sought to find King Alfred's bones in Winchester, whilst Michael simply
enthused learnedly with fellow specialist academics about the first King of the Angles, giving us far more genuinely atmospheric landscape themes and even Saxon music and spoken word. No contest.

Justin's Science Experiments said...

No surprise that archaeologists fill in the blanks and fabricate with colourful imagination. However Brian, what are the facts? I'd truly appreciate you sharing your knowledge by being more specific with constructive criticism. Thank you.
Denice

BRIAN JOHN said...

That's the problem, Denice -- there are no facts. So whimsy and fantasy come in as substitutes. But they are portrayed as facts, and probably accepted as such by the members of the great British public, who have no way of differentiating between fact and fiction. TV producers must take some responsibility for that, as must presenters like Neil Oliver. Just look at the fantasies whirling around the "bluestone quarries" debate -- if you follow this blog you will know what I mean......