It was the last episode of Equator on TV tonight. The whole thing seemed to be over far too quickly.
The programme had a typical Michael Palin-type concept: follow the equator all the way round the planet and make a film of it, but instead of Michael Palin we had Simon Reeve. Who is he? We had never heard of him before, but he soon became a firm favourite in this household. According to Wikipedia, he made a series for BBC Four on Places That Don’t Exist which won an award, but somehow we missed that, as well as previous documentaries about Central Asia and Saudi Arabia.
I think we liked the way he reacted to things the way any normal person would. In this week’s episode he was in a boat at night, trying to catch fish in a rain forest river and his torch revealved a tarantula in the boat. If it had been Attenborough we would have had a whispered comment like “and here we see an example of the local wildlife”. If it had been Irwin we would have had “Crikey! Look at this beauty! Lets see if we can pick it up.” Instead we had Reeve and got “What the F*** is that??” I think I would have said more or less the same, except I would have said it as I was jumping overboard.
In the previous episode Simon was asking the holder of a poultry stall in an Indonesian market about bird flu, and somehow ended up being invited to stick his finger up a chicken’s arse to see if it had an egg inside. His reaction was about what mine would have been, and the look on his face when he found himself having to share a small boat with three circumcisers in Africa was priceless.
One enjoyable little incident this week was seeing a piece to camera about the effects of widespread availability of alcohol to the the indigenous people of Brazil, accompanied by a vey drunk local. According to the subtitles, what this local was saying to to Simon Reeve basically amounted to “Your my best friend you are”. If that doesn’t show how everyone is fundamentally the same regardless of outward appearances and circumstance I don’t know does.
The whole thing felt a bit rushed to me. I could happily have had it spread over 6 or more episodes instead of 3. The whole of Equatorial Africa was covered in the first programme, Asia in the second and South America in the third. Each programme featured several topics which could have filled an hour’s documentary on its own. Sending a presenter and crew on such a long journey, requiring planes to be chartered, and boats and trucks to be hired cannot be cheap either.
Anyway, we will be keeping an eye out for Simon Reeve in the future, and tuning in if equator is repeated.