Television can be absolute dross, or it can transport us to wonderful places that delight and enthrall.
Recently, we have had both ends of this spectrum.
Taking the negative first, the new comedy series, The Windsors, is a spoof of the British royal family from Prince Charles and Camilla down to the younger generation. Sending up real-life people is a delicate skill and the writers of this series just don’t have it.
The Windsors is crass, the language is vile and apart from a few well-timed barbs, it’s just not funny. Watching one episode I wondered how on earth the series came to be made, but perhaps it finds its market as punk comedy? It certainly lost this viewer.
However, to restore my faith in television, along comes Martin Clunes: Islands of Australia.
Well known in our lounge rooms as the grumpy misfit Doc Martin, or perhaps as the charming Mr Chipping in the contemporary remaking of Goodbye, Mr Chips, in the past few years Clunes has reinvented himself as a genial, animal-loving chap who takes us travelling with him through documentaries.
First it was discovering the islands of Britain, then a series about dogs, his great love, and now he has ventured Down Under to discover the better known and the obscure islands surrounding our own largest island in the world.
Beginning with Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, Clunes approaches each place with great respect, humility and a genuine desire to find out what makes those who live on the islands tick.
A more egotistical presenter would get in the way of each island’s story, but Clunes is wise enough to act as a conduit, so that through him we become a part of each experience—we feel we are right there with him.
This is armchair travelling at its best. Through Clunes, I learned much about the Torres Strait Islands’ fascinating melting pot of cultural heritage, discovered the intriguing bush tucker with the women of the Tiwi Islands, and visited remote islands off Western Australia.
It’s a heart-warming experience to watch Clunes experience new places with his thirst for knowledge, and share his intriguing discoveries with us as we watch from our comfy armchairs. Islands of Australia takes us to amazing places many of us have never been, as we meet people who broaden our minds and are shown the wonders of the world God has made for us.