Stick your Xfactor somewhere smelly

For a change, rather than be annoyed with the Beeb, I would point out a couple of shows I actually enjoyed.

Let’s start with First Life.

If you’re not from the UK it’s hard to understand how much of a cultural icon David Attenborough is.  He’s been presenting wildlife shows on the BBC for many decades now and he always brings a calm, knowledgeable, authority (tinged with wonder) that makes his documentaries completely compelling.  He never veers into mawkish sentimentality or anthropomorphism and so you’re left with a clear message that Nature, for all its cruelty and arbitrariness, is a beautiful thing.

His new show First Life looks at the origins of life.  Attenborough shows how fossils demonstrate the increasingly complexity of life and the myriad of unusual forms.  There are a reconstructions but these serve to illustrate points – not add drama.  All in all this is TV that I highly recommend.

And then there’s The Beauty of Diagrams: Episode 1 the Vitruvian Man

Most of us have seen the Vitruvian Man but how many know why it’s called that or why Da Vinci drew it?  I knew some of the history already but the BBC’s pet mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy really brings it all together with his enthusiasm for the subject.

Here’s the BBC’s description

He looks at Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous diagram of the perfect human body, which has many layers from anatomy to architecture, and defines our species like no other drawing before or since. The Vitruvian Man, drawn in the 1480s when he was living and working in Milan, has become one of the most famous images in the world. Leonardo’s drawings form a vast body of work, covering every imaginable subject in spectacular detail: from feet, skulls and hands to muscles and sinews; from hearts and lungs to buildings, bridges and flying machines.

Vitruvian Man perfectly synthesises Leonardo’s passions for anatomy, for the mechanics of the human body and for geometry. It is also full of surprises, illustrating an ancient architectural riddle set out 1,500 years earlier by the classical writer Vitruvius about the relative proportions of buildings and men; a riddle that, even today, still fascinates and beguiles experts and viewers alike.

Interesting stuff!

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