Blokes head north without a tin­nie

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

EVERY­ONE who en­joyed Tim Flan­nery and John Doyle’s tele­vi­sion trip along the Mur­ray- Dar­ling rivers will wel­come this se­quel, in which the pair cross the con­ti­nent from Cooktown to Broome. And ev­ery­body who thought the pre­vi­ous se­ries was part trav­el­ogue, part video- blog will think the same about this one.

Flan­nery and Doyle know how to fit the travel show tem­plate. In this episode they visit the Great Bar­rier Reef and meet colour­ful lo­cals, al­though in the case of the banker from Bris­bane turned en­vi­ron­men­tally aware fruit grower, the colour in ques­tion is beige. And they do all the stan­dard ‘‘ gosh, isn’t Aus­tralia big and beaut?’’ stuff. In this episode they have a look at the coast off Cooktown and talk to a fetch­ing sci­en­tist with a Euro­pean ac­cent, which is good for ex­port sales. They then visit rocks and ridges of var­i­ous kinds, in­clud­ing lava tubes, ‘‘ na­ture’s own Sis­tine Chapel’’, which are pop­u­lar with bats, set­ting up the first of what I fear will be many bad jokes in the se­ries.

This gets the na­ture stuff out of the way, al­low­ing am­ple time for them to ed­i­to­ri­alise. Flan­nery and Doyle warn us about the catas­tro­phe of cli­mate change and de­nounce de­vel­op­ment, mak­ing the point that if the Mur­rayDar­ling basin does dry out, peo­ple will look to turn the Top End into the na­tion’s food bowl and gen­er­ally in­vest all over the place. While they are po­lite to the Mayor of Cooktown, who has plans for the place, Flan­nery and Doyle ob­vi­ously think ev­ery­thing is fine as it is ( apart from the way the joint will heat up).

In case any­body misses the point, they bang on about the need for more in­vest­ment in al­ter­na­tive en­ergy. We have 40 years to get away from con­ven­tional coal and oil and cut back

Good mates, ap­par­ently: John Doyle, left, and Tim Flan­nery

This an­o­dyne en­ter­tain­ment is un­likely to im­press cli­mate change scep­tics

on nat­u­ral gas, Flan­nery tells Doyle. And ( what a sur­prise!) as they stop to in­spect a wind farm, the news comes over the ra­dio in their car (‘‘ an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly hy­brid’’, of course) that Aus­tralia has rat­i­fied the Ky­oto agree­ment. ‘‘ It’s a weight lifted from my shoul­ders,’’ Flan­nery says.

Even if you do not like lec­tures, it is hard not to like Doyle and Flan­nery. If they are not good mates and de­cent blokes, then they do ex­cel­lent im­per- sonations of them. And, de­spite the pres­ence of cam­era crews, there is a sense that this is a pri­vate ex­pe­di­tion for the pair. As a con­tri­bu­tion to the pol­icy de­bate, this is an­o­dyne en­ter­tain­ment, which does no harm. But it is un­likely to im­press cli­mate change scep­tics or peo­ple who be­lieve eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment gen­er­ates the taxes that pay for this sort of pub­lic sec­tor pro­gram­ming.

Stephen Match­ett

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