Indefinable magic • 2 December 2007 • The SnowBlog
I really can't tell you how much I've enjoyed a TV series called Industrial Revelations by Mark Williams. Even if you can't place the name, you'd know him as soon as you saw him. He's one of the luminaries from The Fast Show and Mr Weasley from the Harry Potter movies (if you've heard of them).
As you can guess from the title, it's about the industrial revolution. The first season is all about heavy industry: coal, steam, canals, trains. The second is about peripheral bits and pieces like cloth-making and printing and mining. It's not flashy, it's not even particularly innovative, but there's something about Mark Williams's enthusiasm that's completely absorbing. Partly I think it's the fact that he knows what he's talking about. I don't know if he ever studied engineering, but he's certainly got a passion for it. And he's not one of those dreadful bouncy presenters using their acting skills to fake interest in something. He's an enormously likable and interesting fellow who's eager to share his excitement for some pivotal industrial history. The shows look like they were made for thruppence, but they're the best thing I've seen for ages. It doesn't matter if you're not particularly fascinated by machinery (especially if you choose to watch the second season) because he's also explaining how people's lives changed and how fortunes were made, and chances are he's doing it from inside some giant piece of beautiful Victorian engineering. There's something there for everyone. If you can get hold of it on DVD - and for some reason that's not always straightforward - I really can't recommend it highly enough. Would make a top Christmas present.
Amazon claim to have season one here. Not sure if season two is on DVD yet. (I had quite a lot of problems getting hold of my copy of season one, but I think that was just my bad luck.)