Tuesday, February 10, 2015

As seen on TV. bringing mountains to the masses

Wish you weren't here! Yr Wyddfa gets 'raped by affection'!

On UK TV, mountain based programmes are like buses. You wait years for one to come along then three come along at once! A few weeks ago on BBC4 we had Terry Abrahams’ beautifully filmed 'Life of a Mountain'. Centred around the people who live, work or just visit England’s highest mountain, Scafell. Around the same time, the BBC in Scotland were putting out something along the same lines which focused on the Cairngorms.

This had to be one of the most pointless and boring mountain based TV programmes I’ve ever seen. Now, here in Wales we are about to get our own life of a mountain series which uses Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) as its focus of a six part series simply called ‘The Mountain’. A series which we are told.... “ follows a year in the life of Snowdon and  sheds some light on the people who live and work on Britain’s busiest mountain, and help to maintain what is a major tourist attraction’

So...that sounds nothing like the BBC Scotland programme called ‘The Mountain’ which  follows a year in the life of...... or ‘Life of a Mountain’ which follows a year in the life of........

It’s impossible not to be depressed at the lack of imagination shown by those who make these sort of programmes in the way they just can’t look beyond the predictable clich├ęd criteria which appears to dictate just what it is the commissioning editors demand. It has to be ‘the highest’ or ‘the busiest’. It has to be a mountain that even the most sedentary coach potato has heard of and it has to include a predictable cast of lovable outdoor types, from gnarly shepherds to enthusiastic  MRT bods, cafe owners to wacky charity walkers.

I guess that its entirely understandable that the TV executives who fund these films will be less likely to throw money at a project if it was centred on say Rhobell Fawr or even the Arans , but from an environmental or artistic perspective, the backwaters of our mountain regions offer a far richer palette to paint a realistic picture of a living mountain than by predictably plumping for an mountain equivalent to the Trafford Centre!

All we want now is Julia Bradbury or Ben Fogle to do what TV people generally do in these sort of programmes; that is, try and round up some sheep, abseil down a rock face, work in the kitchen of a mountain hotel where they will set fire to a frying pan; collect litter with a voluntary anorak, be an engine driver on the Snowdon railway, meet a geologist or biologist under a dank cliff, struggle to control a wantaway OS map and comment on the ‘amazing view’ or ‘horrendous rain’.

No...I don’t think the film makers will be descending on Dduallt any time soon!

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