Now that the BBC Global iPlayer app is available in so many countries via itunes, it’s worth your giving world leading BBC programmes a thorough look-see. Every now and then I’ll be highlighting some of the very best that you might, or might not 😉 , have heard of. These are the ones that currently top my list.
The Natural World
The still at the top of this page is from episode 3 (Africa – Congo, no longer available on iPlayer) of this wonderful series presented and written by the brilliant and mellifluous David Attenborough. The series introduction is here on YouTube.
This is David Attenborough and Africa at their very finest, at the pinnacle of wonderfulness. If you get the opportunity, grab every episode of this series*, which was first shown earlier this year (2013).
Michael Mosley is the British doctor whose Horizon episodes The Truth About Exercise and Eat, Fast and Live Longer transformed the way that many of us relate to exercise and to eating; in the latter he investigated the use of intermittent fasting for living longer and reducing visceral fat (the kind that kills you) and out of it came the book The Fast Diet** and a bit of an online dieting revolution.
So he already comes with a great reputation and distinction, not to mention fans.
In episode 2 of this series he and his colleagues investigate vitamin pills, the possibility that being cold gives you a cold, and whether or not just standing more (for example while at your computer) can make a difference to your health. That’s not all (for example you also learn in detail how to save someone from choking and that some antibiotics might totally alleviate some kinds of back pain), but the standing up bit is the big eye-opener. The third episode is still to come, and this is accessible medicine investigating and reporting at its finest.
Have I Got News for You (HIGNFY) and Have I Got A Bit More News For You (HIGABMNFY)
QI (“quite interesting”) and QI XL
These are both long-running and hugely entertaining BBC panel “games” for fairly intelligent people.
The former (HIGABMNFY is a slightly longer, repeated version of the preceding HIGNFY) has a different – almost invariably first class – chairperson each week and two 2-person teams led by Ian Hislop, the editor of satirist magazine Private Eye with a fine line in cynical humour and self-mockery, and the divine comedian Paul Merton. There’s usually a fair number of instances of hilarity that get that laughy diaphragmy bit of your body well exercised.
The second person on each team tends to be either a popular and well-informed comedian, or a politician or other person well informed in public affairs who’s either pretty humorous themselves or happy to be the butt of others’ jokes. Ditto the chairperson.
Comedian and columnist Mark Steel on the UK’s current “me, me” culture: ‘You just pay for your own little thing: “I’m not paying for the fire service – I’m not on fire!”; “look at all the money that gets wasted on guide dogs – I can’t climb a tree [but] nobody gets me a gibbon!” ‘ – episode 2 of the current series of HIGABMNFY. There are a fair number of the shows or parts thereof on YouTube.
QI and QI XL (the latter a slightly longer, repeated version of the preceding QI – you see a pattern here? 😉 ) is led by ubernerd and possibly genius erudite Stephen Fry.
In the left corner resides comedian and comedy actorAlan Davies, invariably the butt of the show’s writers and a general all-round good egg together with a guest, and in the right corner two other guests. Most of the guests are intelligent comedians or people in the limelight. Stephen Fry asks the questions and quite interesting replies get points; correct answers might or might not get points. Wrong answers or non-interesting answers might get points deducted. Again, a lot of the shows are on YouTube.
*DVD of Attenborough’s Africa series at Amazon.com
*DVD of Attenborough’s Africa series at Amazon UK
**The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting, at Amazon.com
**The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting, at Amazon UK