Just finished watching Andrew Marr’s “Britain from Above” documentary (which was visually good, if slightly less revealing / surprising than I’d hoped). Whilst doing so, I realised something; his “wobbly hands” demonstrative declamatory style of presenting is fairly annoying and slightly patronising. And he’s not the only one; even the normally-calm Sir David Attenborough’s work is increasingly being accompanied by over-dramatic music and wild gesticulatory abandon (e.g. the “Oooh! Look at the blue whale!” bit about two mins into this clip)
Now I know that a lot of these programmes also go out to an American audience, but other than that, why do documentary-makers feel the need to treat us as if we were children? Why are we talked down to all the time? Twenty years ago, we all thought that David Bellamy’s style made him look like a bit of a berk; what’s changed? Why do we have to be “storytold” our documentaries these days?
Two interesting comparisons and examples of how it should be done; Robert Hughes, who, in his utterly brilliant and riveting “Shock of the New”, was phlegmatic knowledge personnified, and Jonathan Meades (my all-time number one fave intellectual! Yay!) who, despite not being averse to the odd jokey directorial set-piece, never for one minute treats me as if I’m incapable of understanding a sentence with more than one concept in it.