Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Martin Clunes visits some islands

The other evening I watched the third of a trilogy of programmes on the box during which Martin Clunes has been visiting a very small selection of the islands lying off the coast of Britain. Having viewed the first two in the series I was particularly interested in this last one because having hopped across the channel to visit Guernsey and Sark, he followed up with St Michael's Mount and the Isles of Scilly. The remit for this series seems to have been to find some of the most individualistic islands out there and the often quirky people who inhabit them. This is really right up my street, or watery strait perhaps I ought to say.

Martin is of course particularly well known as the grumpy humourless Doctor Marten but in real life could hardly be more opposite. Absolutely full of bonhommie and schoolboy enthusiasm he made an admirable companion as he hopped from island to island. I had seen him in an earlier series about dogs, animals for which he has a real passion, and they also were good programmes. It would be great to see him do more of this sort of work, perhaps a series on people who collect unusual things - many years ago I knew a chap who collected matchbox tops and he was kind enough to show me his enormous collection.

I digress ... Back to Martin's islands. It was particularly interesting to see Sark; Martin got talking with a part time plumber there, who is also a part time policeman and a part time fireman. As is fairly well known it's bicycles and tractors only on that island so his panda car was in fact his tractor! I love this sort of thing. On the transport theme it was interesting to note that some of the millionaires on Guernsey displayed their wealth with some of the most upmarket cars you could wish to see - on a small island with a blanket speed limit of 35 mph! Do they get out of bottom gear? It was nice that he moved on to St Michaels Mount, rather like Burgh Island off Devon's south coast a 'part time' island cut off from the mainland when the tide comes in. The Scillies were his last stop. From St Mary's he moved to St Agnes not the more obvious Tresco. St Agnes was chosen I think because it's the most south westerly of the inhabited islands. He went even further out into the great Atlantic when he hitched a lift on a Trinity House helicopter to land on the helipad on top of the Bishop Rock lighthouse. For someone who like me isn't too good with heights I have to admire his pluck in doing this. At the start of the first programme Martin had gone to the furthest northeast outpost of the Shetlands so has certainly gone from one absolute extremity to the other.

I have become very choosy over my TV viewing but these three programmes with Martin as genial guide ticked the boxes for me.

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