Monday, 6 July 2015

At A Glance Review of ... Britain Beneath Your Feet E01: "Building Britain"

Rating: 6

If you don't like Dallas Campbell then I highly suggest not watching this because he's literally everywhere, as this first episode of a two part series takes us around underneath parts of Britain.

What's good in this show is very good and captivating, but it's not all plain sailing ...

You can find the whole episode on the BBC iplayer; check availability here

Dallas starts off my explaining why skyscrapers were slow to take off in London, and it's down to the clay beneath. This completely unnecessary explanation, by way of him throbbing his leg on the clay machine to keep it turning whilst making a rudimentary cup, was a little unsettling.
Mostly this focuses on The Shard building, with the computer graphics actually proving useful to show just how deep those foundations need to be to keep the building upright.
One of the highlights of the programme for me, was Dallas's time (all rather too short) at Gaping Gill in North Yorkshire, which he descends into rather spectacularly.
The view from below is even more impressive than on the way down, with a huge open space of magnificence and awe.
If the way down wasn't scary enough, the way back up is via a rather narrow tunnel!
We're then off to Bristol for a trip down the river that runs through the centre of the city largely unseen by anyone for many miles. The fact that this journey took 6 hours, but is condensed into mere minutes in this programme, gives an idea of how long it really is.
At places the river's tunnel walls get very low!
Dallas then rather unnecessarily catwalks down the high street onto his next assignment. What a poser!
He's in London, and once again he's going down ...
Certainly a masterpiece of construction are the victorian sewers.
What's not so good is the rubbish that collects down there! Dallas genuinely can't stand the very potent smell. I'm not sure many of us could, except for the workers doing the job of cleaning up "fatbergs" that clog up the sewers. If you ever need reminding why you shouldn't pour fat or anything else down the toilet or sink, this is it.
Then we're off to the outskirts of Bath, to explain what happens to some of the water heading to the city
It goes down this hole says Dallas, although I do wonder if this is the actual hole or if there are numerous holes? Is it just the one? No idea, because this programme really does rush over everything sadly.
Completely unnecessary, we then have Dallas in an airplane to show us the short distance the water takes, although it's also a VERY long journey; somewhat 10,000 years, down into the earth and back up into those famous roman baths.
If there are any ladies who fancy Dallas, you'll appreciate the scenes of him in the spa pool, and views of his hairy chest/armpits :/
We then head off to Edinburgh where he explains how the castle is essentially on a very old volcano.
Some fancy graphics merely confuse everything, which is much better explained in other zoomed out aerial shots.
Then it's down a coal mine for Dallas, starting off with an interesting fossil of a fir tree, although no idea if that was actually found down the same mine.
Dallas then tries becoming a miner, complaining of the lack of room to get a full swing into motion. The fact that a camera crew managed to get down there isn't really mentioned.
An almost two minute segment then takes place down a slate mine, purely to tell us that a cricket team uses it to play some extreme cricket. Dallas is useless at the sport and so is this whole segment really.
If you thought the cricket was dull, we then get a lady going around in circles, mapping the root system of a tree. Interesting technology, and she's rather passionate and nice, but the end result ...
... tells us nothing we didn't already know about roots. There's lots of them and they keep the tree upright. Revolutionary this information isn't.
Dallas then explores a tree root system that has a convenient entrance on a slope, to show us roots up close and explain the function of fungi in keeping the trees and nature going. Very useful to know and understand.
Several long minutes are spent with a treasure hunter and his metal detectors, explaining nothing much in particular, expect for his very big haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure he unearthed in recent years. The man on the left that is, not Dallas.
Finally, Dallas goes down a mine in North Yorkshire, whose sheer scale and size will astound you. He does all this to show us the tons of asphalt mined from the deepest location in Britain, so that our crops get fertilizer.
I'd seen this on another programme recently, but there's also a lab down this mine looking for Dark Matter.


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