The Triumph and Tragedy of the BBC Natural History Unit

The Triumph and Tragedy of the BBC Natural History Unit. (Snow Wolf Family and Me BBC TV)

Triumph

Yet another wonderful film from the BBC Natural History Unit about wolves in the Canadian high arctic.

For me, the output of the BBC Natural History Unit has been one of the great triumphs of modern culture. Series such as The Blue Planet – driven by development of equipment, research, scripting and filming techniques and the skill and dedication of the production teams – have revealed to millions of viewers the astonishing richness, beauty and complexity of ‘Life on Earth’ (another of their flagship series). The lead presenter, Sir David Attenborough, has become ‘a national treasure’ and a highly respected voice.

Tragedy

But what the BBC NHU has failed to do is to get across to its public the range and depth of the ecological crisis we are facing and the fact that much of the amazing nature it has lovingly portrayed on film is at risk – or going – or gone. Such messages flicker through these programmes and related websites – but only very faintly. In recent years I have found it increasingly hard to watch these amazing programmes for exactly that reason. The triumph of the NHU is deeply shadowed by this failure.

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About Owain Jones

I work at Bath Spa University as a Professor of Environmental Humanities. I also write songs and help stage a range of live music with others. I am Chair and Programmer for Priston Festival.
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