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  • Dig WW2

    An excellent series being shown on BBC2 this week, presented by Dan Snow. Even showing the restoration and firing of a machine gun recovered from a crashed Spitfire.

    BBC iPlayer - Dig WW2 with Dan Snow: Episode 1
    Never Fear the Event

    Admiral Lord Nelson

  • #2
    Hi

    The series has already been aired on the Sky platform some months ago, but yes its the first time on terrestrial TV.

    I'm not a great fan of Dan Snow to be honest. There are more authoritative figures in the field that could front such a show, but sadly Mr Snow is now the BBC's go to military history guy.
    Whilst he imparts a youthfulness and and a almost naive excitement on occasion (which I'm sure we all would declare in some situations he finds himself in), its the rather banal and bland language/narrative that grinds. Now I doubt that this all rests on his shoulders, but I don't get the impression that he's overly bothered by its banality.

    Military History on TV is largely based upon pandering to the basic or casual viewer. The Military History Channel is largely populated by such programmes, and in part it reflects the military history made available via the print media as well. Endless books about the same old same old, or a overly niche memoir. Academic tomes or journals remain hidden, as to TV programmes of such an ilk that are never made.
    Perversely some of the best military history programmes in this multi-media world appear on British Radio. Usually 30-40mins long, with a panel of real authoritative figures, they discuss in detail the issue at hand. Unencumbered by the need for flashy imagery or clever camera work to help impart what they have to say, these programmes are an oasis in a otherwise weed infested garden.

    Sorry had to get that of my chest

    Regards
    "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

    "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm not a great fan of Dan Snow to be honest. There are more authoritative figures in the field that could front such a show, but sadly Mr Snow is now the BBC's go to military history guy.
      Whilst he imparts a youthfulness and and a almost naive excitement on occasion (which I'm sure we all would declare in some situations he finds himself in), its the rather banal and bland language/narrative that grinds. Now I doubt that this all rests on his shoulders, but I don't get the impression that he's overly bothered by its banality.
      I agree, he's pretty second rate. Unfortunately, 'youf' now tops intellectual calibre or gravitas at the BBC as with most media organisations.

      I so miss Richard Holmes...
      History is not tragedy; to understand historical reality, it is sometimes better to not know the end of the story.

      Pierre Vidal-Naquet

      Comment


      • #4
        Snow

        Originally posted by Post Captain View Post
        An excellent series being shown on BBC2 this week, presented by Dan Snow. Even showing the restoration and firing of a machine gun recovered from a crashed Spitfire.

        BBC iPlayer - Dig WW2 with Dan Snow: Episode 1
        Although he's the embodiment of youthful enthusiasm (which can be quite annoying at times), Dan Snow's actually quite bright:
        - he certainly married well (Lady Edwina Grosvenor, daughter of Major-General Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, the richest man in Britain),
        - and he has a pretty good pedigree (he's a great-great grandson of David Lloyd George, on his mother's side).

        His Canadian half (mother is Ann McMillan, CBC London Bu. Chief) has been showing through lately, with "Battle for North America: The Battle of Quebec" 2 years ago, and this year's "Explosion, 1812", and "Dig WW2", which has a decidedly Canadian slant. For television, they were all pretty decent, because the experts that Snow interviews make up for his own lack of expertise.

        The way I look at it, they can't all be David Starkey's, nor should they be! Enjoy the show.
        "I am Groot"
        - Groot

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        • #5
          Many of Snow's productions are jointly financed by UK and Canadian networks. Thus his subject matter needs to be something to which both general audiences (i.e. not military history buffs) can feel connected.
          Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Marmat View Post
            Although he's the embodiment of youthful enthusiasm (which can be quite annoying at times), Dan Snow's actually quite bright:
            - he certainly married well (Lady Edwina Grosvenor, daughter of Major-General Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, the richest man in Britain),
            - and he has a pretty good pedigree (he's a great-great grandson of David Lloyd George, on his mother's side).

            His Canadian half (mother is Ann McMillan, CBC London Bu. Chief) has been showing through lately, with "Battle for North America: The Battle of Quebec" 2 years ago, and this year's "Explosion, 1812", and "Dig WW2", which has a decidedly Canadian slant. For television, they were all pretty decent, because the experts that Snow interviews make up for his own lack of expertise.

            The way I look at it, they can't all be David Starkey's, nor should they be! Enjoy the show.
            Hi

            Yes his father-in-laws stately pile is but 6miles from my house, or 8miles if you include his driveway

            I don't doubt his intelligence and its obvious that he has to work within the remit of the programme. However I question his aptitude & expertise on he subjects he presents. Yes he has experts to interview, but at times he seems to pass over the obvious more interesting questions to ask, in favour of the banal or vanilla line of questioning.

            Snow is often measured or mentioned in the same bracket as an earlier history presenter Michael Wood, though he is no Michael Wood http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Wood_(historian)
            Wood in his earlier days was also the darling of BBC History programmes, but he fell out with the BBC in part, when he wanted more depth to the shows he was presenting. Thankfully he's still going and doing shows of great interest but also with the depth he wanted earlier in his career. Now maybe Snow wants the same, or needs the same, a Military History series of 8-12shows, rather than a coffee table 2-4 format that he fronts at present.

            Yes variety is a good thing, but at present the variety is concentrated at the lower end of the educational/TV military history spectrum.

            Regards
            "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

            "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

            Comment


            • #7
              Gents,

              I don't think we're really all that far apart here, I'm just willing to accept the glass as being half-full rather than half-empty. I wasn't overly impressed with Dan Snow in the shows he did with his father, but I have to confess my attitude changed when I caught "Explosion, 1812" earlier this summer. The show was typical Snow, but it featured a personal favourite, Pulitzer Prize winning author/historian Alan Taylor from Cal as an expert, as well as Andy Robertshaw at Fort York i.e. Toronto. Despite going off on some tangents, they did get some things right, I'd never seen Taylor on television before, and Robertshaw's always entertaining.
              "I am Groot"
              - Groot

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm with Denis on this. Given a choice between most Military Channel shows (or History Channel shows) and a two-hour in-depth panel discussion, generally I'd choose the latter. But the choice that exists is really between a Military Channel show and a laugh-track sitcom or cartoon, since the audience for the two-hour panel talk about the logistics of the Allied fall 1944 advance realistically isn't, generally, going to be large enough to support airtime. I'll reluctantly take half a loaf as better than no loaf.
                "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
                -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

                (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Just an aside. For our non British brethren, Dan Snow's Great Grandfather was a Corps commander on the western front

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_D%27Oyly_Snow

                  Paul
                  ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
                  All human ills he can subdue,
                  Or with a bauble or medal
                  Can win mans heart for you;
                  And many a blessing know to stew
                  To make a megloamaniac bright;
                  Give honour to the dainty Corse,
                  The Pixie is a little shite.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Marmat View Post
                    - and he has a pretty good pedigree (he's a great-great grandson of David Lloyd George, on his mother's side).

                    His Canadian half (mother is Ann McMillan, CBC London Bu. Chief)

                    ...
                    Interesting, another descendant of DLG is Margaret MacMillan, author of 'Paris 1919'.

                    I checked btw and it should be Ann MacMillan at the CBC.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dibble201Bty View Post
                      Just an aside. For our non British brethren, Dan Snow's Great Grandfather was a Corps commander on the western front

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_D%27Oyly_Snow

                      Paul
                      Snow was the one who blasted Currie for not being up front with his battalion. Currie was in the rear trying to find men to plug up the holes in the line.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jon Jordan View Post
                        I'm with Denis on this. Given a choice between most Military Channel shows (or History Channel shows) and a two-hour in-depth panel discussion, generally I'd choose the latter. But the choice that exists is really between a Military Channel show and a laugh-track sitcom or cartoon, since the audience for the two-hour panel talk about the logistics of the Allied fall 1944 advance realistically isn't, generally, going to be large enough to support airtime. I'll reluctantly take half a loaf as better than no loaf.
                        Hi Jon and Dennis etc

                        Whilst I don't fully disagree with the above, its a rather sad state of affairs that we are almost dragooned into accepting the glass half-full life. Specialisation doesn't have to equate to boring, low viewing figures and non-profitable. One only has to look at the programmes that are put out by say the National Geographic Channel or some of the Wildlife channels, to see that 1hr programme or a series on a niche element, is doable.

                        The iconic The World at War series from the 70's, which is now dated by modern standards, still draws in the viewing figures and the sell ons through various merchandising objects etc, still brings in the /$'s I would be shocked if such a series was ever tried again.
                        I'm not sure of the mentality, business awareness or the historical awareness of some of these people who decide we need yet another programme on the Tiger Tank, the SS, the Spitfire or Patton etc. These programmes aren't even that well made and you often see the results on forums such as these, where well meaning individuals use such programmes as the font of knowledge. The information on them is often very curtailed and overly simplistic but becomes deeply ingrained, especially in the younger mindset.

                        The Military History channel is derided by almost everyone I know, for its output. Yes it needs viewers, well do what other channels do, but your 'best' programmes on at the peak times but fill out the schedule with other elements, instead of the same programmes on a time loop.
                        I spoke to both RUSI & Sandhurst as to whether they would film the various lectures they do, for broadcast on various channels. They had in the past offered such a thing at a very minimal cost. However broadcasters had shied away. So even with the cost negated to them, they still would rather re-run or commission the same old same old.

                        The longer were willing to accept sub-standard historical material, the longer they will keep pumping it out. Catering to the knowledgeable isn't a sin or being elitist, when ignoring them is just such a thing.

                        Regards
                        "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                        "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Andy H View Post
                          . However broadcasters had shied away. So even with the cost negated to them, they still would rather re-run or commission the same old same old.
                          Yep, someone has to justify the timeslot to the bean counters. Just makes you value the good doccos that have rated well for PBS like Ken Burns or Attenborough's wildlife stuff at the Beeb.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by clackers View Post
                            Yep, someone has to justify the timeslot to the bean counters. Just makes you value the good doccos that have rated well for PBS like Ken Burns or Attenborough's wildlife stuff at the Beeb.
                            Hi Ian

                            Exactly but I find it strange that the programmers would rather re-run another Patton/Rommel/Monty program late at nght. Which would garner only a small number of viewers, rather than a RUSI lecture etc, which would surely not do any worse than the Patton etc repeat of a repeat.
                            "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                            "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Andy H View Post
                              Hi Ian

                              Exactly but I find it strange that the programmers would rather re-run another Patton/Rommel/Monty program late at nght. Which would garner only a small number of viewers, rather than a RUSI lecture etc, which would surely not do any worse than the Patton etc repeat of a repeat.
                              Sure, Andy. As a History Channel subscriber myself I feel your pain.

                              The intention of pay TV is to cater for special interests in a way that free-to-air can't (chained as it is to mainstream tastes).

                              So when they follow the same strategy as free-to-air (cheaply do a re-run of a series they've already bought, instead of broadcast interesting content such as you've identified), it does make you want to throw your hands in the air and ask, what's the point!

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