TV REVIEW: Human Planet
On a summer afternoon in 2004, to the lasting surprise of the locals, minnows rained down from the sky on the village of Knighton in Powys.
Imagine that, being pelted with fish. Actually, you don't need to imagine it. Just switching on the TV in the last week would give you a fair idea what it must have been like.
It's been fishier than fishy goings-on at a fishmongers in Fishguard.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's had his nightly Fish Fight. Martin Clunes took a dip with manta rays. Arthur Potts Dawson headed out to sea on a trawler. And in between, Jamie Oliver has been bombarding us with tips for fish suppers.
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Now, like a basking shark gracefully easing past a shoal of sprats, here's Human Planet (8pm, BBC1).
This landmark new series kicked off right in the middle of telly's fish feeding frenzy with an elegant opening episode that touched on much the same sort of points about stocks and whatnot that Hugh FW has been making.
It was unfortunate timing. But timing was the only unfortunate thing about Human Planet.
The focus of this beguiling film, a three-year labour of love which zipped around the world at the speed of scurrilous gossip, was man, not fish – the one creature consistently missing from all the great surveys of life on Earth.
Perhaps this is the point where I'm obliged to mention David Attenborough.
We all felt it, didn't we? That small swell of resentment when the narration began and it was John Hurt's voice not Attenborough's.
We'll have to get used to that, I suppose.
Anyway, it soon passed. Hurt's Shakespearean tones, which seemed at first like a man self-consciously reaching for resonance, soon settled down and submitted to the stories and the footage.
And what stories, what footage. There were the Spaniards who risk death by lowering themselves down craggy Galician cliffs into turbulent seas in search of goose barnacles.
There was a diver in the Philippines who can hold his breath underwater for up to five minutes, and who was filmed strolling along the sea-bed as if it were the high street.
Maybe best of all, there was a chap called Blais in Papua New Guinea who ventured out to sea in a flimsy boat in the hope of summoning a shark by singing to its spirit, a bit like Katherine Jenkins in the Christmas edition of Doctor Who.
He sang, he rattled stuff in the water and he waited for a shark to turn up. While he waited we had time to clock the scars all over his body and wonder if they were bite marks.
Blais is a shark caller. Apparently there are not many of them left.
Well fancy that.