Coast

BBC Two’s Coast is an unashamedly preposterous programme. Filled with overly dramatic strings and helicopter shots of absolutely everything, it feels like watching a guitar solo section of a stadium rock video, only directed by National Geographic.

In host Neil Oliver, we have a man who looks like he might leap out from behind a shrub, point at some rocks and huskily burr “These stones are as old as time itself, forged by the great thunderous hammer of Thor!” before wrapping himself in a black cloak and dissolving into the earth, leaving only a crow’s cry in the watercolour skies of the Hebrides.

It’s ace.

You see, most shows that look at things as boring as georgraphy and geology tend to forget that people aren’t really too fussed by the science of it all. Sure, tell us a bit, but don’t parp on about it for too long or we’ll switch over to something more immediately pleasing.

In Neil Oliver, the show have hired a folk singer. Of sorts. He’s all thick vowels and folk tales, hopping from isle to isle and talking to the people Billy Connolly left behind when he moved to America to star in average films.

He’s a game bugger too, quite happy to be plunged into icy water and scale down crumbling cliffs while some local oddball licks the lichen off a rock to inform us all what we Brits ate before we got invaded by Vikings and Romans.

TV viewers have always bought into this kind of gentle action hero. Blue Peter’s John Noakes never went to fire shotguns at oil drums, preferring to do a handstand on Nelson’s Column. So too, the spirit of Noakes can be found in Oliver, who is exciteable and eager to go to windswept places and get dragged under by currents and the like.

The rest of the team are pretty cool as well, hiking around hillsides and explaining the layout of rocks by using cakes. It’s science that only the village idiot couldn’t grasp and, better yet, a living, breathing document of all the cool things we’ve got on this poxy floating pebble in the ocean.

Coast. Don’t change. Continue to be your whimsical, pie-eyed self and we’ll keep tuning in.

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