Ganges, BBC2

by | Aug 3, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did the saintly sky bless us with a pleasurable broadcast from the heavens?

This meandering waltz down through the choked lungs of India’s most sacred river was like a tantalising chilly finger running down the spine.

Which moments gloriously washed over us like a warm wave on the rasping coast?

• Being swallowed whole by the garnished flora and fauna that adorn the banks of the Ganges – a wary snow leopard stalking sheep on a steep cliff face; the birds of prey feeding their young; the fastidious monkeys feasting on the scant remnants of the crops or their bolder brethren begging for scraps from pilgrims; shoals of carp pricking each other before darting off as if shocked by a thunderbolt from the gods; happy dogs ambling beside their masters, oblivious that their metal collars are to protect against the lethal bite of the leopard; griffon vultures gliding down from the cloud-topped peaks to feast on carrion; blinking tigers; elephants showing off their prowess at being large and revered.

• Rather than plunging into the depths and diving for scarce pearls of historical wisdom, the trickling narrative was a gentle paddle along the full length of the river’s four sources, letting the playful water settle between the toes.

• The colourful pilgrims, like fractured segments of an exotic snake, winding their way up to the sources of the Ganges to pay penance. Or in summer congregating in the villages abandoned in the frigid winter, teeming through streets, across bridges and bathing in the sacred waters at a confluence of the tributaries where they each take care to chain themselves to a metal rail to prevent them being swept away.

• In one of the idyllic villages smuggled away in the folds of the Himalayas, come dusk the inhabitants lock and bolt their doors to protect against the hungry impulses of the Asiatic black bear or the man-eating leopards.

Which parts skulked and seeped through the bedrock of our enraptured minds to the dark places?

• Such was the intellectual posture and the unflinching yearning to slowly unravel the tale of the Ganges, was it wise to explore the origins of how the Himalayas were formed? Even an illiterate fool would have been told of this geological event.

• The black-browed beetles of the underworld scribbling their sacrileges in the tabloid press have now so ruptured the fidelity in the BBC that the corporation is impelled by the Ten Commandments of Murdoch to denote anything in the documentary which may not be as Jonathan Ross-genuine bona fide 4real as the love twixt Jordan and Peter Andre. As a leopard prowled through a village an intrusive caption pranced on to the screen with all the diabolic guile of Satan taking part in Dancing On Ice. ‘Reconstruction’ was the legend. It didn’t matter – it was to illustrate a story; to colour court proceedings can we now anticipate each drawing being emboldened with the tag ‘This is a drawing’?

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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