John Walker's Electronic House

Inside Nature’s Giants

by on Jul.21, 2009, under Television

Channel 4′s Inside Nature’s Giants has been almost brilliant, constantly held back by presenter Mark Evans’ determination to present it to confused children.

The programme, in which some of the world’s biggest creatures (elephant, giraffe, whale, etc) are dissected, is absolutely fascinating. But watching it feels like a fight to ignore Evans and his about-to-cry face saying things like, “Once upon a time…” when trying to explain evolutionary theory. But this is as nothing when compared to his constant apologising for the programme’s existence.

This is never worse than in the elephant’s episode, where he implores with the audience to forgive the existence of every moment of it. Phrases like, “Of course it’s a complete tragedy that the elephant has died…” NO IT ISN’T! It is in no way a “tragedy” that this animal has died. It would be very sad if it were your pet elephant, or if it were the last elephant in the world, but it was not. It was a zoo elephant that was too ill to stay alive, and so was put down. And now, brilliantly, it’s here on this programme for the public to witness something that’s usually carried on in private, a dissection of such an incredible animal.

Evans demonstrates how out of place he is in this programme when he’s asked by a couple of kids, around 10, about something hanging off the side of the whale they’re dissecting in N. Ireland. Is it skin or plastic they want to know. And suddenly he comes alive! Enthusiastically he runs over, grabs a piece of it, and explains why the whale’s skin is flaking off, illustrating it for them with examples of how their own skin can flake off. He’s spirited and clear, and involves the children. He’s a children’s presenter, and he’s great at it. Really great. But this is on late at night on Channel 4, for adults.

Sorry, sorry! Sorry it died! Sorry we’re dissecting it! Sorry I’m here! Sorry! Sorry!

I wish this programme, so brazenly called “Inside Nature’s Giants”, was proud of itself. Rather than appalled.

Thank goodness it also features Richard Dawkins explaining the biology, as he seems to have the confidence in his viewer that he or she might not be a moron. He’s used all too briefly, but makes a big difference when he appears. And it’s ultimately a great show. There’s a tinge of that frustrating Channel 4 tendancy to imply this is about grossing people out, rather than educating – something they did horrendously during the human autopsy programmes a few years ago. As intestines spill out, there are the shots of audience members looking horrified. But despite these weird flaws, ignoring the nonsense, it’s still well worth watching.

You can watch all the episodes here.


4 Comments for this entry

  • cullnean

    Its great TV

    but

    As a Christian how do you view this as a piece in my opinion on evolution, and not intelligent design.

    Sorry about bringing religion into it.

    Andy

  • Waste_Manager

    Channel 4 do have a knack for nearly ruining this type of program. The Human autopsy really got on my nerves for how they presented it and I had to turn off the Live Heart Surgery not long ago for being an awful bit of television.

    Also, it seemed to miss the point by using a baby giraffe on a programme about massive animals. I know they had to take what they could get, but still…

  • John Walker

    cullnean – As a Christian I think “intelligent design” is complete gibberish without founding. It’s Creationism with a publicist.

    I have no problems at all with a creator God who creates through the system of evolution. (There’s an extremely strong argument that this is exactly as Genesis 1 describes the course of events, once you stop mistranslating “Yom” to mean “24 hour period”.) I find it extremely painful when people ignore demonstrable science, and more so when it’s Christians.

  • cullnean

    Huzzah, why do i only meet hmmm….evolution is stupid christians instead of handsome chaps like yourself john?

    Andy