Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Show Four Billion Years in Making

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Show Four Billion Years in Making

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY RAMSEY

Journey Of Life 9pm, BBC1

WELL, isn't television strange? There we are, thinking the TV companies only want to make reality shows and programmes about people having plastic surgery and suddenly along comes this series, which offers to explain where all life on the planet has come from.

In only five episodes.

As presenter Steve Leonard tells us, the story starts 3.8billion years ago, this means each episode will span something like 760 million years. Or more than 13 million years every minute. Goodness, how time flies when you're discussing evolution.

Leonard, who made his name in Vets School, makes a personable, though bland, guide to the animal kingdom as, in this first episode, he launches himself into the sea, on the understandable grounds that it is the place where all life began.

It began, if this programme is to be believed, in a funny little frisson of special effects, from which the first cells arrived.

And already we hit the major problem of this series: the whole story of life on earth is just too big a subject. The programme is overly simplistic as it scoots over the surface of its subject, trying to be all things to all men. Or, more accurately, boys, as it is pitched at the level of a programme for schools (and not particularly bright schools at that) - which prompts the question: why isn't it scheduled earlier? There are some fascinating snippets of information, and wonderful footage of wildlife, but don't expect very much joined-up science. The best thing to do is sit back and marvel at the deadly hunting skills of the mantis shrimp, the backdraft mouth of the frog fish, the mucus weapon of the hagfish and the incredible senses of a shark - which can detect one drop of blood in 25 million drops of water. Those bits are all great fun.

But overall, it's not much to show for nearly four billion years of evolution.

20th Century Roadshow

8pm, BBC1

Chopper bikes worth up to [pounds sterling]1,000, old film posters selling for [pounds sterling]5,000, Thunderbirds models valued at up to [pounds sterling]1,500- it seems the nation's lofts are full of surprisingly valuable stuff. …

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