Ewan’s action-guy mission
He’s no expert in this field but give the man credit, writes Pattie Pegler.
There are plenty of celebs that act as ambassadors for United Nations children’s organisation, Unicef. They do televised appeals or visit projects somewhere.
But actor Ewan McGregor, who’s been a Unicef ambassador for eight years, has upped the ante. The two-part documentary Ewan McGregor Cold Chain Mission (Sunday, 8.30pm, Living channel) follows him taking ‘‘lifesaving vaccines to children living in some of the most remote areas on the planet’’. In the first part he travels to India and Nepal, the following week it’s Africa. Along the way the vaccines have to be kept cold or they become ineffective.
It’s a scenario with lot of opportunities for McGregor to ride around on a motorbike looking like an action guy.
‘‘It’s the perfect match of furthering my work with Unicef and . . . going on an adventure which I like to do,’’ he says. He then launches into a description of the comforts of his life – water, food in the fridge, a doctor down the road, a hospital round the corner. ‘‘When we get to the very far reaches the children won’t have any of those things’’. OK, Ewan, don’t rub it in.
It might be an adventure holiday for McGregor as he candidly admits, but you’ve got to give him credit. The journey looks horribly tough – all dusty roads, lots of hiking and a bonerattling mountain runway. And at every overnight stop they have to find somewhere to keep the vaccines cold. At one point this involves a hotel fridge so filthy it should be featured on Kitchen Nightmares.
McGregor has a pleasant manner and cares about the job at hand. But he’s no expert on the topic and it shows. ‘‘I’ve crossed a lot of borders and they all feel a bit like this. There’s generally markets near them, there’s loads of goods going back and forward, busy . . . they’re interesting places.’’ He often babbles like this, as if someone had just pushed him in front of the camera and told him to say whatever came into his head.
Clearly vaccination programmes are full of challenges and it’s an interesting topic. But this show seems unsure what it is, part travelogue, part documentary, part Unicef promotional film.
Remote places also feature this week in David Attenborough’s Africa (Tuesday 8.30pm, TV One). It’s been hard to miss those tantalising trailers and the first episode, Kalahari, lives up to the hype.
There’s the trademark Attenborough narration; superb photography; incredible facts. And an amazing giraffe battle.
There are probably some overly sensitive souls out there still blithering on about that polar bear footage from a zoo rather than the tundra, as seen in Frozen Planet.
They’re missing the point. Attenborough makes beautiful documentaries that show us wonders of the natural world most of us will probably never get the chance to see.
And he does it with a real passion and knowledge. Africa is superb. Watch it.
Ewan McGregor: Cold Chain Mission brings vaccines to remote peoples.