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5 November ‘12

TV Critics: Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature; Nigel Slater: Life is Sweets; Nick Nickleby

“It was perfectly entertaining but not scientifically taxing - a combination to which I find myself increasingly susceptible.” Read on for the verdict on last night’s TV.

“It was perfectly entertaining – fascinating, in places – but not scientifically taxing, a combination to which I find myself increasingly susceptible. And it made its point without dwelling on the obvious fact that a lot of what we know about how animals are built comes from killing them and pulling them apart.”
Tim Dowling, The Guardian

“The blind ingenuity of the evolutionary process in exploiting every available ecological niche was matched here by a certain skill in putting the details on screen, from a lovely opening piece to camera to the elaborate stunt someone had devised to test the engineering that protects the woodpecker brain from an impact of 1200G every time its beak strikes timber… Even if one might wish that BBC producers occasionally used a bigger hat when they pull out a name for a new project, for this kind of gee-whiz science Hammond is actually pretty good.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

“Richard Hammond’s Miracles of Nature was a science show with an action-movie soundtrack, stunts and locations. And although the host looked at home in his action-movie tour of Bond cars last week, he didn’t look as well cast here… The problem is, the tomfoolery is a bit superfluous when the camerawork and facts are this amazing.”
Alex Hardy, The Times

“There’s a sense among the bosses of programme commissioning that the only way a modern audience can grasp a bit of science is if it involves cars being blown up or things being dropped from a great height. In other words, they think we’re teenage boys… This week, we were thrilled to the sight of a lightbulb, in a crash helmet, being dropped from space… Hammond declared himself staggered by the result. More than we were, then.”
Matt Baylis, Daily Express

Nigel Slater: Life is Sweets, BBC4

“On this sort of stuff, food and personality and the past, Slater was as brilliant as ever… I fear, though, he might have bitten off more than he could chew by combining this with a whistle-stop tour of the history of confectionary.”
Matt Baylis, Daily Express

“I watched most of Nigel Slater: Life is Sweets with a lump the size of a humbug in my throat… I didn’t think this was going to be my sort of thing at all. I’m not British, so I don’t get very excited by the thought of buying Pontefract cakes by weight… [But] Slater’s relationship with his past has always seemed raw, and it was his investigation of his own childhood that produced the humbug-sized lump.”
Tim Dowling, The Guardian

“I’m not exactly sure who Nick Nickleby is aimed at… It’s certainly an experiment worth conducting, though… The point, I take it, is to apply Dickens’ social conscience to the scandals and workhouses of contemporary Britain… On the evidence so far, modern dress makes it a lot trickier to find the balance between grotesquerie and realism that is one of Dickens’ strengths. But it’s a brisk, bold treatment that deserves an audience.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

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