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The Great British Year

Wed Oct 2, 9-10pm, BBC1

Episode one
Which endlessly deployed prefix is more tiresome? Channel 4’s ‘Big, Fat…’ or the BBC’s ‘Great British…’? It’s a close run thing, but we think ‘Great British…’ is edging ahead. Particularly when it’s augmented, as it is here, by a few randomly scattered Union Jacks, fluttering gaudily like pointlessly patriotic product placement.

And even more so when it’s accompanied by a voiceover as simultaneously grandiloquent and twee as the one supplied by Joseph Fiennes. It’s a shame really, because once it gets down to the business at hand – namely exploring, over four parts, the effects of the seasons on the flora and fauna of the nation – ‘The Great British Year’ contains some striking material.

Most notably, there’s an aerial battle between a barn owl and a kestrel, the nut-hiding travails of the squirrel and some resourceful red kites following a ploughing farmer and feasting on worms. The time-lapse photography is done to death, but this winter wonderland is worth a look. Just set the volume to mute…

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