Me, me, me! It's the Beeb's preening presenters
Published 19/03/2011 | 05:00
Currently on Sunday nights, BBC2 is screening Wonders of the Universe while Channel 4 is showing Civilisation: Is the West History? This, however, is less a battle of the documentaries than of the presenters, each of whom is filmed lovingly in a variety of exotic locations.
They love themselves, too. Trendy right-wing historian Niall Ferguson, who is in no doubt about the West's superiority to other cultures, shows his vanity with his proud profile, his determinedly downbeat dress sense, his hey-I'm-cool use of "killer apps" to explain his thesis and his condescending vocal delivery. Distracted by all this, the viewer hardly takes in what he's saying.
Over on BBC2, Brian Cox is even more distracting. With his permanent cherubic smile and floppy hair, this science professor looks about 12 and dresses accordingly in a bewildering variety of t-shirts, chinos and parkas.
Indeed, he changes his look with every scene, whether he's on the top of a Himalayan mountain or in the middle of a desert.
All the while he's babbling on about big bangs and how we're all made from stardust, but you're so busy gawking at him that what he's expounding is really irrelevant.
Oh for the days when documentaries were more about their substance than about their starry hosts.