Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Nick Crane & William Cobbett

I don't know about you, but I had been looking forward to the latest series of 'Great British Journeys' fronted by Nick Crane.

So why am I finding them such hard work?

Is it the direction? Last night we watched Nick pace up & down in a pub as he told us about Cobbett, with the camera man following him from head to toe and then back up again as he paced about. When he was slithering down the scarp slope in a beech hanger with his bicycle, did we really need to have frames clipped from the action so giving us a semi-stroboscopic view?

Are these odd directional quirks a device to try and maintain your interest in Nick's fairly monotone delivery? I have two books by Nick; Clear Waters Rising and Two Degrees West. Both were great reads and I am currently re-reading Clear Waters. He is a genuinely interesting and nice bloke with an obvious passion for his subject.

While I am moaning about last night's programme, I might as well continue. Television is a visual medium. Near the start of the programme we were shown a map of Nick's proposed route, yet we were very rarely referred back to the map during the programme, so hardly ever knew where he was when he was talking to camera with glorious backdrops. Why not show us on the map?

(And while I am bleating on about that - why oh why do TV breakfast newsreaders not show us a map of where traffic jams are when they report them in the morning! I would be better informed by Sally Traffic on the radio!)

Just how many times do we need to see Nick wobble his way up steep hills on his bike, or swoosh down the other side? I think the Director needs his head read. He is doing his best to make Nick look like a complete nerd.

It's just too much like hard work watching him - which is a great shame as he is a great bloke and it's a great topic he has picked.

You can see the programme again tonight on BBC2 at 7:00pm. I will try to watch it again and see how I get on this time...


  1. I guess the production team has to strike a balance between appeal to the masses, as well as satisfying the rest of us who will be on the lookout these irregularities.

    I enjoy Nick Crane's delivery and amused by the strange places he takes his sit-up-and-beg bicycle ;)

  2. read both of Crane's books but to be honest his style pases me by. Some of his tv stuff is interesting, but perversley the best I've seen yet was the recent bating down the Wye. Had to laugh when I saw him at Tintern Abbey, pouring in rain, and no sign of that brolly of his.

  3. Loved his "Map man" stuff, "Coast" good, but find this "Great Journeys" lacking in something. Not sure what.

  4. I agree with your comments entirely. The programme is interesting but watching it is tiresome at times.

    John J

  5. I read Clear Waters when it first appeared in p/b - loved the subject & Crane's enthusiasm & couldn't put it down. However, despite it being a prize-winner, I'm amazed it wasn't better edited - many of the big wodges of history etc hold up the flow & seem to have been researched & awkwardly introduced at a later stage. In my opinion it should have been a shorter & more carefully revised book.


Because of spammers, I moderate all comments, so don't worry if your comment seems to have disappeared; It has been sent to me for approval. As soon as I see it, I'll deal with it straight away.
Thank you!