ROLAND WHITE reviews last night’s TV: For star fisherman Tristan, there’s no better plaice to be than Devon
Devon And Cornwall
Do Black Lives Still Matter?
While Channel 4 often seems to pride itself on being modern and radical, some of its programmes are so traditional they probably wear bright red cords and a tweed jacket at the weekend and are hoping to join the Rotary Club.
Devon And Cornwall (C4) was one of these. It was so old-fashioned that one of the highlights featured four men of late middle age, racing along at speeds of no more than 8mph on a replica of the Puffing Devil steam engine, originally built in 1801 by the Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick.
With the men dressed in frock coats, it was like watching a Georgian version of Top Gear. All it needed was Squire Stig testing a souped-up horseless carriage in a reinforced periwig.
The true star of the show was a Devon fisherman called Tristan Northway (pictured)
Devon And Cornwall is basically a localised version of Countryfile, in that it features people in attractive rural settings doing typically telegenic things.
We were taken to a wild flower meadow at The Lost Gardens of Heligan, which was no surprise. By law, all documentaries about Cornwall must include a visit to Heligan. They must also, of course, open with an aerial view of cliffs and the sea.
It was all rather quaint. We watched the Puffing Devil go in for a service, and — on the River Otter, not far from the aptly named village of Otterton — we saw a charming new family of beavers, who happily played up to the cameras and hid any disappointment they might have felt that David Attenborough wouldn’t be dropping by.
But the true star of the show was a Devon fisherman called Tristan Northway, who sails his one-man operated trawler out of Brixham at 2.30 each morning.
A man who gets wildly overexcited about fish, he was a natural in front of the camera. ‘That is absolutely spanking — well chuffed,’ he said, lovingly stroking a freshly caught plaice. The plaice looked a little less than chuffed.
UNLIKELY SUPERHERO OF THE WEEK:
In Birdgirl, an eccentric new animation series on E4, U.S. lawyer Judy Sebben not only runs her own legal practice but also finds time to be a winged, crime-busting superhero. Whatever next? ‘Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s SuperRumpole.’
Over on the BBC, with football divided over players ‘taking the knee’ before matches at the Euros, a programme about racism in the game could not have been better timed.
But the episode of new series Do Black Lives Still Matter? (BBC1) dedicated to the sport felt like a missed opportunity. Half an hour, fronted by the rapper Saskilla, didn’t seem long enough for such a complicated and sensitive subject.
On the face of it, football is very diverse. Overseas players, owners and managers dominate the British game. About a third of top players are black, many more than you’d expect from the UK’s relatively small black population. But why aren’t there more black managers?
The suggestion was that black players aren’t seen as leaders. I’d liked to have heard from somebody like Les Ferdinand, the director of football at Queens Park Rangers — a black man at the top of a major London club.
There was a hint that deeper factors might be at play.
According to former England coach Hope Powell, black players are under-represented in the women’s game because regional academies are in leafy, inaccessible areas. Even if selected, poorer children might simply not be able to attend.
There is cause for optimism, though. One interviewee was Tyrone Mings, whose leadership skills are obvious.
He is the fast-rising Aston Villa star who also now plays for England, and confidently gave interviews after last week’s draw against Scotland.
It’s hard to believe that just nine years ago he was playing for non-League Chippenham Town.