Fair Isle: Living On The Edge explores a remote island and the life there
The world’s remote islands, facing a constant deluge of rootless dreamers and malcontents, have had to become pretty stringent about who they allow in.
Fair Isle: Living On The Edge (BBC4) explores a community desperate for fresh blood but only the right kind.
With a population that has dwindled from 2,400 to just 55 residents, the island, situated between the Orkney and Shetland Isles, works hard to stay viable.
Residents may well have escaped one type of rat race in order to paint, sculpt, write and immerse themselves in nature but they also run the village shop, work on the ferry and service the generators.
We followed Shaun and Rachel, a pair of newcomers, as they set up home and found their feet. It seemed as if Rachel would have preferred a little more time for feet-finding than she got because she was swiftly drafted in to look after the bird observatory.
The island is situated between Orkney and Shetland Isles and works hard to stay viable
But beautiful as the place looked, there was an ever-present sense of how closely everyone there was managed by it.
Cottages were being renovated by the National Trust, which owns the island, specifically to attract young families.
It’s no idyll for kids as Ythan, 10, preparing anxiously to leave for boarding school on the mainland, would have told them.
It seemed few people could handle the ferry crossing without becoming seasick. But people such as Shaun, who had volunteered to work on it, had no choice. There is something lovely about a close-knit community, where everyone works towards a common goal.
Fair Isle is no exception but anyone thinking of moving there in search of escape or the simple life will be in for a big surprise.
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It has a population of just 55 residents
A Timewatch Guide, British Empire: Heroes and Villains (BBC4) was, like all others in the Timewatch genre, a load of old clips.
But in this case it was presented with a credible purpose by historian David Olusoga, who began at Oriel College, Oxford, where students have been demanding the statue of the 19th century colonialist Cecil Rhodes be removed.
Objecting to things sometimes sounds like a modern pastime but as the first lot of archive footage showed us, Rhodes had been a controversial figure for a long time.
British Empire: Heroes and Villains was presented by historian David Olusoga
In a documentary from 1971, the florid tones of the Welsh actor and filmmaker Kenneth Griffith came crashing down on Rhodes, comparing him both to Churchill and Hitler while also making it clear he was far less clever than either.
Interestingly, we also saw Griffith mentioning Rhodes’ deep affection for his friend – and perhaps lover – Neville Pickering, whose death disturbed him deeply. Today’s objectors, you couldn’t help thinking, want the likes of Rhodes removed from history.
The best TV for 2017
Fri, December 9, 2016
Peaky Blinders, Broadchurch, Homeland, The Voice UK and more. Here's the best TV coming your way in 2017.
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The Best TV to watch out for in 2017 including Peaky Blinders, Broadchurch, Homeland & The Voice UK
Forty-plus years ago even the most scathing accounts felt obliged to point out the man’s better nature.
It was a shame this bundle of excerpts left out all those lavish Raj-set TV dramas which must themselves have done much to shape people’s thinking about the rights and wrongs of the Empire.
Historical documentaries seem able to embrace all sides of the debate when the mood of the time allows. If today’s student mobs get their way, debate itself will be a word that belongs in the past.