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DVD Review

DVD cover

Rivers with Griff Rhys Jones


Presented by: Griff Rhys Jones
Acorn Media UK
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: E
Available 02 August 2010

Griff Rhys Jones returns to the wide and often wild as he sets out on a new adventure to explore how rivers have influenced, nurtured and powered our lives throughout history. From the raging torrents of Scotland to the gentle flatlands of East Anglia, Griff barges, canoes, swims, walks and sails his way along this often hidden network which has been the life-blood of the country...

Originally broadcast on BBC One in the summer of 2009, Rivers follows Griff Rhys Jones has he navigates the waterways of the UK and explores the individual histories of what were once the lifeblood of UK business. This 2-disc collection features all five, 1 hour, episodes.

Highlights of episode 1, Scotland, sees Griff swimming in the Tay in a sport know as 'wild swimming'.

Episode 2, The North, sees him swim across the Mersey, an act that 50 years ago would have almost certainly poisoned him. Griff also travels under the city through the sewers; visits Chatsworth House to examine the manufactured water landscape; and examines Stainsby's working mill which still harnesses the river.

Episode 3, The West, sees Griff construct his own boat by weaving willow in the traditional way; having a go at sheep shearing; engaging in a pagan ceremony to honour the river; and taking part in a bit of bog snorkeling.

Episode 4, The Lea, and Griff heads into London. It's here he discovers that the banks of the river Lea are home to the best barley in the world which is used to make beer; has a go at making his own fly for fly fishing; learns that a dummy airfield was constructed here during the war; learns of the history of gunpowder production and transportation; and sees the start of work on the Olympic development.

Episode 5, East Anglia, sees Griff eel catching in the Fens; travelling the Norfolk Broads; spotting George Formby's house; learning about the history of local mink farming; and sees the real locations of many of Constable's famous paintings.

While, on the whole, I enjoyed this series, I couldn't help feeling that we were being rushed along from place to place. There were quite a few instances were I felt more could have been made of the interviews with local experts, but just as things started to get interesting off we went to the next location.

I also found Griff to be fairly average on the presenting front. He's not as charming or down to earth as Michael Palin seems (but then who is?) and his interviews feel very staged. Instead of letting the expert talk, Griff interjects with facts (obviously fed to him earlier) to make it look like he already knows most of what he's being told. His narration also sounds a little too much like David Attenborough - which can be distracting at times.

Extras include the text based Griff Rhys Jones Biography and a Photo Gallery.


Darren Rea

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