Bill Oddie Back In The USA, BBC2

by | Jan 11, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

Bill swaps the rustic vistas of deepest Devon for the foreboding urban concrete shadows of New York and the wide open spaces of Pennsylvania and the results are, well, quaint.

What was good about it?

• Bill managed to keep his boasting in check as described his first visit to the Big Apple back in 1964 when he, along with Tim Brooke-Taylor, John Cleese and Graham Chapman, brought their raucous stage show to Broadway to thunderous critical and populist approval.

• Bill being possessed by the ghost of Johnny Morris as he anthropomorphised a family of raccoons’ efforts to scavenge discarded slices of pizzas and bananas from a waste bin Central Park.

• Bill’s visit to his old digs in New York, which is infested still by a mass of cockroaches. The only change from Bill’s first visit is that they have now been joined by their Madagascan cousins.

• When Bill began a half-hearted eulogy about the various famous faces such as Jennifer Aniston and Woody Allen who live in apartments surrounding Central Park, it seemed as though he had reluctantly surrendered to some editorial command that demanded that he sycophantically suck up to any hint of celebrity as if he was freelancing for GMTV.

• But he spun the whole ruse on its head when he instead focused on the red-tailed hawks that nested high in the apartment blocks’ nooks and crannies. His scorn for the celebrities was loud and vocal: “All these posh movie stars being upstaged by a couple of birds.”

• Now David Beckham has retired from football, and will only be busy when some rotund American businessman is tipping greenbacks into his insatiable maw of avarice, he may want to inject some vitality back into his life by gazing at these marvels of nature.

What was bad about it?

• Bill’s trips to Jamaica Bay and Hawk Mountain, while both picturesque, lacked a narrative drive to draw the viewer in. Perhaps we’ve been spoilt by the superlative Sir David Attenborough recently, or even Bill’s very own Autumnwatch, but seeing dislocated scenes of beautiful birds soaring through the crisp October skies lacked any sense of distinctive majesty.

• Bill: “The fall, it’s so much a betterer (sic) a name for autumn isn’t it?” Wrong, Bill. The Fall is only a ‘betterer’ name for bleak philosophical novels or grumpy Mancunian bands (or grumpy Mancunian bands named after bleak philosophical novels).

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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