Monday, 13 July 2015

At A Glance Review of ... Britain Beneath Your Feet E02: "On The Move"

Rating: 6

Dallas Campbell is back to pose and posture about in this second episode of a two part series that takes us around underneath parts of Britain. This week was themed to concentrate on things beneath the ground that keep the country moving, although I wasn't expecting puffins to feature.

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

First up, Dallas heads to Heathrow, before taking to the skies in a WW2 plane to once again rather unnecessarily fly about to show us nothing much in particular. His aim was to let us know that in WW2, lots of fuel was hidden underground and piped around the UK.

This fuel system is still in use today, although we never see one of the refuelling stations or any of the pipes in this programme.

We do however get computer graphics to show us the not so amazing concept of underground pipes below heathrow.

Up to Scotland next, as Dallas takes a boat out into the Firth of Forth to show us from the water level, the true majesty of the rail bridge. Amazing to think this was constructed in 1880s.

Dallas gets hold of the plans for how they lay the foundations for the Forth Bridge; a rather sophisticated and hazardous system of pumping out water and workers hacking away at the ground.

Before motorways or any roads, it was canals and barges sending coal and other minerals across the country. Dallas takes us underneath the Pennine mountain through an amazing tunnel.

Flat on his back, Dallas shows how barges used to be pushed along the tunnels by using your feet! There were professional "leggers" employed who did nothing but this job.

To show how much effort was required to get through that mountain, Dallas does some blasting of his own. The result leaves you in no doubt that it was a job that required considerable manpower and a heck of a lot of time.

Dallas then goes down a closed down Silica mine in Wales. Water has overcome most of the lower levels now and is used by some extreme divers, of which Dallas joins them. Amazing to see everything underwater. Certainly not a dive for anyone inexperienced.

Dallas then takes a break from man made routes below ground, to take us to the Farne Islands and meet the warden of the island who looks after the welfare of the inhabitants of puffins. They burrow underground to nest, thus linking into the theme of the programme. One adult puffin and the child, a puffling, is rather unnecessarily pulled out from their nest carefully to show to us. Very cute, but I'd rather they were not put through that.

Next up, badgers. Yes, you heard me. We follow Dallas as he helps relocate a set of badgers encroaching on a primary school.

Back in Scotland, we're in Edinburgh visiting an underground bunker created by the government in case of nuclear war many decades ago.

Dallas shows us the radio broadcasting room as well as other rooms in this creepy and curious bunker.

To Wales now, and a mountain in snowdonia where a hydroelectric plant lurks beneath.

How it works, the power involved, and dangers, is quite amazing to take in.

Finally to London and the billion pound CrossRail project due for completion in 2016. Dallas shows us inside the massive drilling machine.

He also meets the lady in charge of constructing one of the underground stations.

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