Title: Mountain - Exploring Britians High Places with Griff Rhys Jones Author: Griff Rhys Jones Publisher: Warner Home Video - 2007 Price: £29.99
Review of the DVD of the excellent BBC television series of UK upland areas
The excellent television series Mountain with Griff Rhys Jones has just finished on BBC1 and is available on DVD from the 3rd September 2007. For those that didn’t see the original broadcast this is a chance to find out what you missed, for those that did this is an ideal opportunity to add it to their DVD collection to enjoy it again and again.
Written and presented by Griff Rhys Jones and subtitled “Exploring Britain’s high places”, the DVD provides all 5 episodes in High Definition quality. The series travels to five different upland regions of the UK and explores the mountain environment and the people that live there. These regions include North West Scotland, English Lake District, Central Scotland, Pennines and Snowdonia
Although the televised series was published in the above sequence its good to see the DVD (or at least the pre-release review version that we had) has a more logical running order, with the series culminating with the Central Scotland episode. With a series that proclaims to explore Britain’s high places it always made more sense to finish on our highest mountain, Ben Nevis. The only disappointment from the series is why the producers chose to focus solely on Snowdonia in the Welsh episode while ignoring its smaller but equally impressive neighbors of Cader Idris, the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains?
Each episode runs for an hour during which Griff explores not only the landscape of the selected area but also the people who live and work there. The research for this series was obviously very in-depth as Griff meets some real characters on his travels including a miner in the Lakes who single handedly resurrected a closed slate mine, a crofter in the far north of Scotland who helped local farmers like himself own the land they work, a group of army officer cadets in Yorkshire running the 3 peaks challenge and a champion British yodeler at Malham Cove. In addition to the five episodes in high definition quality, each DVD (there are two in the box set) also includes an image gallery with stills from the series set to atmospheric music.
Griff brings his usual wit and charm to the series but for those that are more used to seeing him alongside Mel Smith its eye opening to see there is much more to him than a stand up comedian. His passion for the environments he visits and the scenery that he is in is obvious and on many occasions he is clearly moved by what he sees.
The cinematography in this series is excellent, as you would expect from the BBC. Shots from the air are combined with excellent work on the ground and the film crew must have got very fit lugging the equipment up and down the hills. Griff takes every opportunity to get out into the mountains and makes notable ascents of Ben Nevis, Ben Hope and Napes Needle in the Lakes. For those that winter climb in Scotland, you will feel a real empathy with Griff when after walking up the Allt a’ Mhuilinn to the North Face of the Ben to try an easy gully, his guide makes him turn back due to poor snow conditions. The look on his face is priceless.
For a country that struggles to justify most of its upland environment as Mountains hen compared to other countries in Europe such as France and Switzerland, this series definitely demonstrates that what the UK upland environment lacks in height it more that makes up for in its richness and diversity.
Mountains with Griff Rhys Jones is available on Monday September 3rd 2007 from all good stockists, priced £29.99.
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