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The Great British Countryside.


Acorn Media UK,

DVD, 19.99 [pounds sterling]

This four-part series was first broadcast on the BBC, and in keeping with recent trends, is fronted by familiar faces--in this instance, Hugh Dennis and Julia Bradbury. The programme's hook is how millions of years of geological change continue to affect the way we live, and in pursuit of this theme, the pair visit 'all four corners' of Britain: Devon and Cornwall, the South Downs, Yorkshire and the Scottish Highlands.

Geometry, then, isn't one of the programme's strong points. And neither. it seems, is geology, which often takes a back seat to more viewer-friendly sights, such as that of Dennis coasteering in Cornwall (essentially performing a list of every activity you shouldn't do on a jagged, rocky coastline: jump, climb and swim), gliding off Sutton Bank, and being winched down Gaping Gill. He also joins the Trinity House team doing maintenance work at Wolf Rock, and it's a treat to watch his studiedly casual expression, belied by his clenched fist. while the helicopter lands on the tiny pad atop the lighthouse.

But for all the Blue Peter exploits, Dennis appears genuinely enthused by his subject, and is visibly thrilled when explaining that the chunk of gneiss he's holding is three billion years old. Bradbury, meanwhile, investigates mineral water, from the rebirth of the bottling industry in Harrogate to the petrification of sundry objects--including John Wayne's hat and Agatha Christie's handbag--at a limestone waterfall. She also reads The Hound of the Baskervilles by moonlight on Dartmoor and herds reindeer in the Cairngorms.

Something for most interests, then, from fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast with a man who found half an ichthyosaur after a cliff fall (and keeps it in his kitchen), to tracking dinosaur footprints on the Isle of Skye. And while not all of the scripted banter between the presenters rings true, they make for charming, watchable hosts in an entertaining series. MICK HERRON

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Author:Herron, Mick
Article Type:Video recording review
Date:Aug 1, 2012
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