Provencal perfection too good for coypu
6.30pm, ABC THIS 30- minute documentary ( the script only makes it feel like A Year in Provence ) begins with soft shots of a lovely landscape and a softer voice assuring us that in this southeast corner of France ‘‘ the land seems to bask in the eternal light of summer, the passion of its people keeps this secret Eden alive’’. Get the picture? This is soft- core travel porn, all alluring images designed to appeal to the BBC’s main market, the British middle class, who may not like the French much but adore living in their country, which is probably why half the people who appear in this program are English.
Such as the expat cellist who loves life there, presumably because she gets to make pretty speeches about how making music in Provence is like ‘‘ playing in a natural church’’ and how much she likes rosemary and thyme, and presumably parsley and sage as well. And the ornithologist who roams the high country studying birds, in particular the griffon vulture.
Their lives undoubtedly look lovely. And the producers do their best to make it plain that nearly everything in Provence is perfect.
There are long, lingering looks at lavender fields, quite a lot of looks at lavender actually, supported by an interview with a farmer whose family was cultivating the herb before anybody thought of screwing a perfume production subsidy out of the European Union.
Then there is a chat with a chap who is a lonely goatherd by trade ( apart from passing camera crews), who bangs on about how rare and special his goats are ( funnily enough, he does not demand a chevre subsidy, but maybe that bit was cut).
This is followed by a bloke who owns a wildlife park and is keen on flamingos. Finally there is the patriarch of a family that runs cattle in the Camargue region of the Rhone delta, and expects everybody else to help them keep things the way they are.
And understandably so, because it seems the only things wrong with life in Provence are the mistral, which makes it a bit breezy, and the presence in the Camargue of the coypu, a giant aquatic guinea pig that some dill imported from South America.
And it is all beautifully photographed, making Provence look like a sensual fantasy where people live in a languorous landscape, ‘‘ where the pace of life is slower, the days richer’’.
But slower and richer than what is not explained.
And this is the strength as well as the weakness of travel porn. It looks alluring but it turns Provence into a fantasy where people live in harmony with each other and the only element out of place is the coypu.
dwells on lavender fields and other pastoral delights