Into the deep

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

CON­TINUE the afloat theme this week­end on ABC1 on Sun­day night. At 7.30pm, Pen­guin­sof theAntarc­tic is a beau­ti­fully filmed BBC doco fo­cus­ing on th­ese cute din­ner-suited denizens of one of the world’s fastest-grow­ing cruise des­ti­na­tions. The black-and-white birds can do cold, ice and wind (and even the prospect of in­flat­able Zo­di­acs filled with padded parka-clad tourists) with alacrity but how are they cop­ing with global warm­ing and ice-melt?

Ac­cord­ing to the pro­duc­ers, king pen­guins and chin­straps (named for the dark line of feathers that runs un­der their chin; it looks as if they have sleek lit­tle hats tied in place) are ac­tu­ally ben­e­fit­ing from warmer tem­per­a­tures. But the em­per­ors are adapt­ing less suc­cess­fully to the thaw that could threaten their colonies.

At 8.30pm, that sink­ing feel­ing con­tin­ues. Lusi­ta­nia:Mur­deron­the At­lantic recre­ates the tor­pe­do­ing of the Cu­nard flag­ship liner by a Ger­man U-boat off the Ir­ish coast on May 17, 1915. The­o­ries abound as to why the Bri­tish ad­mi­ralty, which knew of en­emy U-boat ac­tiv­ity in the re­gion, didn’t pro­vide an es­cort for the doomed passenger liner. What ap­pears likely is that the Lusi­ta­nia was car­ry­ing

Ice cool: From Pen­guin­soft­heAntarc­tic ex­plo­sives and, with its high pro­por­tion of Amer­i­can civil­ians on board, was de­lib­er­ately sac­ri­ficed to bring the US into World War I.

The drama­ti­sa­tion of the sink­ing (which took less than 20 min­utes) is bril­liantly ac­com­plished and the small-scale hu­man el­e­ment comes cour­tesy of nar­ra­tor John Han­nah’s char­ac­ter, pro­fes­sor Ian Hol­bourn, a passenger who be­friends 12-year-old Avis Dol­phin. That the two were among the 761 sur­vivors and formed a life­long friend­ship is known fact, but oth­er­wise be pre­pared for oceans of creative li­cence, hy­pothe­ses galore and a touch of the melo­drama of James Cameron’s Ti­tanic . Su­san Kuro­sawa

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