Thursday 25 October 2012

Prehistoric Autopsy

I was very excited to see the trailer for Prehistoric Autopsy a few weeks ago, and couldn't wait for the first episode on Monday. In many ways, I got what I was expecting - the same TV cliches that characterise many science or forensic programmes - the blue back lighting, the transparent white board, the top down shots and the large plasma screens showing fantastic reconstructions. But, overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by the format and the informative content. I have watched several of Alice Roberts' shows in the past, and liked them (I hasten to add), but in this one, I thought she was at her best - she seemed relaxed and enthusiastic, and a little less wooden than she has been before. George McGavin is likeable too - I tend to think of him as 'the new' David Bellamy. The idea of concentrating on three of the 'pop stars' or 'icons' of our evolutionary past was a fun twist on the ordinary format of starting at the beginning and working our way up to the present. It was also fast-moving enough to keep up interest. Of course, I was on the look out for slip-ups or factual inaccuracies (I can't help it); and although there were a few instances where clear conjecture or speculation was given one minute, and taken as read in the next sentence; it was generally a really good synopsis of current research into evolutionary anatomy, with some grand old chestnuts and a few new advances thrown in for good measure. And the silicon reconstructions of the hominids were very impressive. I loved the confident, fierce look in Lucy's eyes! Anyway, if you haven't seen all the episodes, I'd encourage you to hunt them out on iPlayer. Hopefully more programmes like this will make it onto the BBC's radar, and bring palaeoanthropology to our living rooms more often.