Friday, 15 January 2010

Bill Bailey’s Big Bag of ********

I probably should have known better than to expect too much from a programme about birds made by Sky, but the first two instalments of Bill Bailey’s Big Birdwatching Bonanza (Thursdays, 9pm, Sky1) have been disappointing.

As with anything I’ve ever seen him in, Bill is funny, and enthusiastic, but the show’s biggest problem, from a birder's point of view, is that he doesn’t actually know very much about birds. I wasn’t keeping notes, so I can’t remember any specific examples, but I remember sitting there constantly correcting his bird factoids and, on several occasions, identifications.

Worst of all, one of last night celebrity ‘challenges’ was to digiscope some waders out on the mud at Snettisham. The winning team managed to photograph three species, which were named as: Ringed Plover, Redshank and Golden Plover. The first one was indeed a Ringed Plover, but the Redshank looked like a Dunlin (I think – they didn’t show it for very long) and the Golden Plover was definitely a breeding plumaged Grey Plover. The photos had been printed out, so these weren’t just snap identifications – there must have been plenty of time (probably days, knowing how TV programmes are made) for someone to have correctly identified them.

Other things which rankled include the running joke in the first programme about the contestants continually flushing big flocks of waders and geese on the Solway Firth (yeah, that’s fucking hilarious isn’t it); terrible grainy old stock footage of birds that looks like it was shot in the 1960s (obviously keeps the cost down) and the so-called ‘celebrities’ (most of whom I've never heard of), who seem to have absolutely no interest in or knowledge of birds.

In short it’s not very good, but I shall keep watching it, if only to find out exactly what they were doing flushing all those ducks at Rutland Water last September...

11 comments:

beast said...

Did you know that one of the program makers had been looking at your Llama site Andy and has viewed the comments on 'Bill papped'...?![chuckle]...


ps...actually...i don't know why i ask the question when i'm guessing your answer would be 'no'...!

The Leicester Llama said...

How did you find that out?

Perhaps I should be careful what I say. But on the other hand, fuck 'em - I'm sure they'd be the first to complain if I made a TV programme about making a TV programme... given that I know fuck all about making TV programmes!

Just to reiterate, I have absolutely no problem with Bill Bailey, or 'beginners' or non-birders, or TV programmes made for beginners, but I do get pissed off with TV programmes which misinform beginners and non-birders.

It's very simple - all they need to do is employ someone with a thorough knowledge of the subject to make sure they get their facts right.

And don't flush birds.

Or get people to write poetry...

Skev said...

Couldn't agree more Andy.

To be honest, I think most of the first episode passed me by as my mind just kept wandering - I was thinking about how nice it would be to go out on a birding trip with Kara Tointon and show her a Woodcock. No such distractions this week.

James Emerson said...

My main gripe with BBBB is that although it's getting a lot of promotion (I've seen billboards for it in Norwich), it doesn't seem to be suited to any particular target audience. It seems to have very little for birders, for the reasons you've outlined, but is it really interesting to non-birders?

I did realise that it was going to be bollocks early on though, when that woman announced "it's not a bird, it's an owl". There must have been a lot of Z-list celebrities busy that day.

The Leicester Llama said...

It's clearly not aimed at birders who are experienced enough to know the difference between a Golden Plover and a Grey Plover, but the problem is that the programme makers don't realise they're making mistakes and thereby misinforming those who don't know enough to relaise that they're being misinformed (fuck me, that's a convoluted sentence, even for me!).

Who was 'that woman' anyway? I'm guessing she was in one of the soaps, which would explain why neither her name or her face rang even the slightest bell with me...

alan tilmouth said...

I haven't got Sky so I havent got a clue about the programme, I'm just hanging on in for the poetry. I still think AMc should have been Poet Laureate for his re-working of American Pie.

beast said...

Andy...[re the program-maker]...i had an email chat with her after she went online [on BF/TF]...and she seems an okay sort. Defo has a good sense of humor and i suspect that she quite likes...or certainly doesn't object to...this sort of birding-bloggybollox!

thedrunkbirder said...

The truth about the digiscoped waders is that there was filmed footage of Redshank and Golden Plover but when it came to the digital photos The Llama is correct that they showed a juv Ringed Plover, a Dunlin and a moulting summer plumaged Grey Plover.

The programme as I have said on my blog is bollocks but for some reason it's watchable bollocks...

The Leicester Llama said...

Alan - the comment about not getting people to write poetry refers to another of the crass 'challenges' the contestants have to undertake: writing a poem about their day's birding. So far they have been without exception toe-curlingly abysmal and utterly pointless.

Kay said...

Haven't seen it as I haven't got sky. Sounds like a load of old pants, but I'm strangely curious...

The posters of Bill holding captive BOPs shows serious mis-judgement, if they're trying to appeal to birders.

The Drunkbirder said...

Looks like the fieldcrft is catching on. Daft twats at Shawell keeping everything off the Balancing Pool!

The word verification was pringers - which could be a non-sweary word for those twats!