Monty Halls’ Is­land Es­cape

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

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?

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