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Dreaming the Impossible: Unbuilt Britain

Mon Aug 19, 9-10pm, BBC4

Episode two
Bloody political pragmatism, eh? So often the stifler of ambition, courage and borderline lunacy as displayed by the visionaries (this week, mostly Frenchmen with very long names) in tonight’s episode of this excellent new series.

The very first Channel Tunnel was mooted back in the early nineteenth-century, only to be nixed for security reasons (something to do with the Napoleonic wars, apparently). It took almost 200 years for xenophobia and paranoia to have ebbed enough to make this apparently daft idea a reality. Although, we’ll grant you, technological advances may also have played a part.

Sometimes, though, the politicians do get it right: a battleship canal very nearly carved its way through Loch Lomond, but for welcome Parliamentary uncertainty. A great premise, a lively new presenter (Olivia Horsfall Turner) and some fascinating stories have made this a really compelling series. Bravo, BBC4.