Monty Halls’ Island Escape
Friday, 7.30pm, SBS One Here’s a hint for those who like to research the television programs they watch. In most markets this program is called Monty Halls’ Great Hebridean Escape. Perhaps foreigners such as us can’t be trusted to know where the Hebrides are. Nevertheless, this is one of the best documentary series I’ve seen for quite a while. There is nothing pretentious or overeducated about Monty Halls (do not mix him up with Monty Don of Italian Gardens fame). You won’t find him quoting Shakespeare and Burns on the moors. The TV presenter, explorer and marine biologist has been passionate about the oceans and wildlife for as long as he can remember. He has written seven books, presented programs for the BBC, ITV, National Geographic and Discovery channels, yet remains quietly convinced that people only ever tune in to see the dog. Yes, Monty’s partner in crime is his wonderful mutt Reuben. It’s not for nothing that his company is called Seadog productions. I can’t think of a single television presenter who loves his dog more. So, to the Outer Hebrides. Halls asks us to imagine living in a picture-perfect thatched cottage near its own white sand bay on a string of islands packed with some of the most remarkable wildlife in the British Isles. He will act as a volunteer wildlife ranger and will live in hope that Reuben doesn’t eat any of it. As tonight’s episode begins, we say farewell to the beautiful Scottish mainland town of Oban on a seven-hour journey to the very top of North Uist. Halls arrives ‘‘ tired but happy’’ in the dead of night, but wakes up next morning to a Hebridean paradise. Will the community there welcome him? Will he succeed in making viewers as jealous as he made me?