Sunday, January 22, 2012

The BBC is not all bad

There was a really interesting documentary on BBC 4 called Unnatural histories. It was all about the history of the Amazon and the effects that the indigenous peoples [pre-European involvement] have had on the so-called primeval forest. It was an eye-opener. To give a quick summary of the programme it states that, prior to the Europeans arriving there were abundant advanced civilisations living there. When, one of the first Spanish explorers, Fransisco de Orellana,  arrived he wrote in his diary that the Amazon river was crowded with towns and cities [yes, cities] on its banks all the way along its length.

Fransisco de Orellana

It wasn't until the Europeans arrived with their diseases, which wiped out an estimated 90% of the indigenous populations, that the advanced civilisations of the Amazon Basin disappeared and nature took over the vast cities there, which is why we think we see untouched, pristine forest. But even that is not entirely true as the hunter gatherers of today were/are managing the forests. The BBC explains it better than I.
Which brings me back to the headline: 'The BBC is not all bad'. This is where the BBC are wonderful in their science and natural history programmes. I think that I can safely say that if there was an Olympic prize for these types of TV programmes then the BBC would certainly be in the medals.


  1. Yes, I agree. There can be no other channel, possibly in the entire world, with so many good documentaries. David Attenborough's stuff is remarkable in it's quality. Lord Clark's Civilization too was reputedly a landmark in documentary work.

    BBC Drama has a reputation for its quality, and although I watch almost no tv at all, I hear people talking about how excellent it is.

    It's led the way too, in the past, with comedy and variety programming.

    It's a shame that it felt it had to expand itself so much and in doing so diluted the amount of money it has to spend on quality programming.

    The result is house buying and renovation and gardening programmes, which are unrivalled in their tackiness.

    News coverage, which they tell me was once highly respected, has always seemed biased to me. More particularly in, and against Scotland, but maybe that's just my imagination.

    I wouldn't object to teh BBC having a couple of radio stations (Radios 3 and 4, which are probably not commercially viable) and one channel of quality programming for the UK and its satellite countries.

    The rest should be sold off to commercial concerns.

  2. PS. I hope that programme is available on iplayer.

  3. Tris,

    The link I included will take you to IPlayer. Everything I put in red are links.
    I remember a sports commentator from the old days, David Coleman, who used to run the Saturday sports programme called 'Grandstand'. He constantly made mistakes on it, but what he was most renowned for was that when England were competing in any sports there was only one team and that was England. A bit ironic really as he was of Irish parents.

  4. Yeah I can see how a documentary about outsiders arriving in a independent nation brought with them 'their diseases, which wiped out an estimated 90% of the indigenous populations'
    would appeal to an avowed (but misguided)Nationalist

    still did you know until the advent of capitalism and colonial exploitation famine was unheard off throughout the African continent.

  5. Niko:

    I watched a documentary on French tv, about how, in one of the French colonies in West Africa, the imperial power had instructed the natives to have bigger fields and to plant just one species in them, instead of mixing rows of different crops.

    Needless to say the natives of the country tried to tell the French that it wasn't a good idea and also needless to say the French said, 'non non, we know best, we are white Europeans...'

    So, of course, the crop was a complete disaster and the villagers had nothing to eat, or to trade. They knew that sometimes the rains came, and sometimes they didn't, so, if they planted different kinds of crops at least some of them would have the right conditions for growth.

    I find it hard to believe that the Brits didn't do exactly the same thing.

  6. Ged:

    yes, after I made my comment I clicked your link and found it on iplayer... duh, how thick am I?

  7. Niko,

    I remember reading an article years ago that African was a rich continent and their wealth was based on cattle. Seemingly when the Italians moved into Ethiopia they brought their own cattle with them and the diseases that they had spread to local cattle and wiped them out. This rapidly spread through whole the continent impoverishing the indigenous populations just at the time when the Europeans flooded into africa making it an easy take-over for them. I don't whether it is true but it makes sense. Every place we've been to we have ruined their economy and, in a lot of places, wiped them out. We have a lot to answer for.

  8. Tris,

    That is down to the ignorance of the ruling classes in the west and their lackeys who do their bidding.

    As to the comment. I hate to interrupt a man during self flagellation.

  9. Thanks for that as it was very enjoyable and shows how our modern system of profit and economic growth thinks that it can be sustainable which it isn't. This is Niko's Labour party he savours over.

  10. Gedguy

    A Zimbabwean refugee at work said to me they had everything in Africa then the white man came and stole every fucking thing they had.
    And now we come to your country to steal some of it fucking back.

    You white bastards took our land and left us with nothing fucking nothing.

    I said this is true no doubt about it but it wasnae me!.
    I also pointed out those rich white bastards stole a lot of us poor white bastards as well.

  11. Oh! yeah he also said although he hated Mugabe he did respect and admire him for fighting the white man and winning.

    Those who support Mugabe get everything(not a lot there though) and those like him who dont get nothing.

  12. cynicalHighlander,

    I've never been a great lover of the capitalist system and when it dies, like all other systems in the past have, I won't mourn its passing. It is an anathema to democracy and to common decency. It subverts the very basis of human advancement and morals and is the epitome of avarice. The Labour party started off as a movement to cater for the underprivileged but was taken over and led by those whom it initially fought against. The fact that so many Labour politicians have been caught with their snouts in the trough and their leaders openly basking in the corruption of capitalism shows that the great Labour party of the past, and its ideals, has not existed for many a year. It is a mere shadow of its former self.

  13. Niko,

    I sympathise with that Zimbabwean friend of yours, but, just as an aside, let me put what he has said in another context. What would you have said to me if I had said that the 'black' man has come over here and is sucking the life out of our welfare system, taking jobs off us and generally causing chaos? You would say that those remarks are pure racist and I would agree with you. Therefore, what your Zimbabwean friend has been saying, is pure racism.
    Having said that, I cannot disagree with one word that he has said. I also agree with you that those same 'white' people have been treating us in exactly the same way for centuries. As far as Mugabe is concerned it looks like he is no better than the 'white' men who raped, pillaged and murdered his country. I should really say 'our' country as it was the 'whites' that gave it its current borders, hence the inter-tribal conflicts which are the bane of co-existence in Africa.
    I need to go and see my doctor and tell him that I am agreeing with you too much. There must be some sort of pill I can take.

  14. We've not been in a Capitalist system for a while Ged. The private banks would have been allowed to fail under Capitalism. Rather than being bailed out by unwilling taxpayers.
    Capitalism served us well when it was controlled. Just compare North Korea to South Korea, Eastern Europe to Western Europe, North America to South America etc.
    The relaxing of the banking regulations and a myriad of other reasons ( that I could expand on if you wanted) have moved the West from Capitalism to totalitarianism.

  15. RM,

    I don't necessarily agree with you about capitalism but what I will definitely agree with you about is totalitarianism. Whatever it is that leads the west it certainly isn't democracy as I know it. I'm sure that we can agree on that. Everything else is up for grabs. Oops, isn't that capitalism?