I’ve become a bit fed up with television in recent years. It seemed to be on a steep downward path with crap drama, crap "reality" programmes and indifferent current affairs coverage. Increasingly, unless something can be "dramatized", be it crime, history or buying a house, it seems to be of little interest to programme makers. Consequently, these days I watch very little telly and, when I do, I’m frequently disappointed.
Just occasionally, though, something comes along to restore my faith. This week that has happened twice. The first instance was the documentary Absolute Zero on the subject of cold and based on the book by Tom Shachtman, who is clearly barking mad, particularly when trying to recreate very dangerous historical scientific experiments. The second instance was tonight’s programme Atom, which took the potentially mind-numbing subject of quantum physics and turned it into a gripping story filled with amazing personalities, which is exactly what it is. Both of these programmes show that you don’t need to dramatize something in order to make gripping and exciting television. (Remember that horrendous Supervolcano programme? Why did that need fictional characters and drama, including an aircraft saved by a hero geologist? Surely the Yellowstone park erupting and causing global winter is dramatic enough!)
Thank goodness for BBC Four.