Planet Earth: A Celebration
The Diagnosis Detectives
Every telly addict plays this game: pick the five funniest episodes of Frasier. Or, name the dozen worst contestants from the I’m A Celebrity jungle.
Even Sir David Attenborough enjoys the challenge.
Earlier this year, shortly before lockdown began, I was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon chatting with him and we got on to the topic of his favourite episodes from a TV career spanning 70 years.
He’s most proud, he says, of 1979’s ground-breaking Life On Earth.
Sir David was delighted at the memory. He was 37 when he travelled across the Northern Territory, with temperatures in the high 40s and the nearest town days away
Among the archive series I cherish most is his Australian adventure, Quest Under Capricorn from 1963, in which he met some of the last Aboriginal nomads.
Sir David was delighted at the memory. He was 37 when he travelled across the Northern Territory, with temperatures in the high 40s and the nearest town days away.
A tribal elder named Magani befriended him. ‘He talked a lot of Pidgin English, which I picked up so I was able to talk to him,’ Sir David told me.
And to prove he hadn’t forgotten, the world’s greatest living broadcaster broke into Pidgin, speaking it fluently. ‘He no trouble,’ he chuckled.
Quest Under Capricorn, filmed in gorgeous Sixties cine colours, is available on iPlayer.
For a selection of his more recent best moments, the Bank Holiday gave us Planet Earth: A Celebration (BBC1)
For a selection of his more recent best moments, the Bank Holiday gave us Planet Earth: A Celebration (BBC1).
Drawing on Planet Earth II from 2016 and 2018’s Blue Planet II, and featuring a new soundtrack by movies composer Hans Zimmer, the compilation included unforgettable sequences — such as the packs of racer snakes chasing newly hatched marine iguanas across the sands in the Galapagos.
I’ve watched that a dozen times and it never fails to make my heart pound as I will the babies to reach the safety of the rocks.
But I can’t help puzzling over the adult iguanas. Why don’t they lay their eggs closer to the rocks?
Why don’t they stand guard as their offspring emerge?
Birds protect their chicks, before and after hatching— why haven’t sea-going reptiles evolved to be as smart?
For sheer brains, you can’t beat the octopus. It doesn’t just fool its predator, the pyjama shark — it leaves the big fish looking stupid.
When the shark is on the hunt, the octopus gathers up seashells with its eight tentacles and wraps itself in armour like an armadillo.
Then it squirts ink in the shark’s face and escapes. Watching this clip without the background music might be interesting — I reckon we’d hear the sound of an octopus laughing.
All that was missing from Michael Mosley’s new series, The Diagnosis Detectives (BBC2), was the sneering laughter of Hugh Laurie as Dr Gregory House.
Terminally sardonic, House was the star of a U.S. medical drama that ran for eight years, during which he diagnosed some of the rarest and most improbable diseases found in any textbook.
All that was missing from Michael Mosley’s new series, The Diagnosis Detectives (BBC2), was the sneering laughter of Hugh Laurie as Dr Gregory House
The 12 consultants and specialists who comprise Dr Mosley’s team are less sarcastic but equally able to identify unlikely ailments.
The first episode saw them investigating Paul, 75, whose face was so badly swollen he could barely open his eyes.
Their first guesses were uninspired. ‘An allergy to washing powder?’ suggested one. ‘Has he started using a different shampoo?’ wondered another.
But they soon got into the spirit of the investigation, testing for an auto-immune reaction triggered by sunlight.
Lung cancer was another possibility.
Then the docs got really carried away. ‘Leprosy!’ declared one. It wasn’t, but Dr House would salute the sentiment.
This series promises to be great fun for hypochondriacs.