• Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's TV

Nov 11, 2021

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: The secret of Kate Garraway’s inner strength? Hugging trees

Walking With Kate Garraway

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Comedians Giving Lectures 

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Hey, Mr GMB man, play a song for me, in the jingle-jangle morning on breakfast TV. Love, peace and phone-in competitions, all right, yeah.

No one knew, but Kate Garraway is a bit of a hippy. Though she wasn’t wearing tie-dye or weaving flowers in her hair on Walking With . . . (BBC2), she was one of Nature’s Children.

Flinging her arms around a beech trunk in the Cotswold countryside, she sighed: ‘I’m a tree-hugger. I’m one of those that believe there are brilliant vibrations, that you can feel life coursing through it.’

To make her point, she lay down on the bough of a lop-sided ash tree in a meadow and listened to the birdsong. ‘The sound of nature is like a warm bath,’ she said.

Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway appears in the new BBC Two series Walking with Kate Garraway, which sees her go on a walk through the Cotswolds countryside with a drone as she describes the joy and solace she finds in the landscape

Solo meditations on country walks have been a popular feature on Radio 4 for years. BBC2 discovered the format a few months ago, sending Chris Packham on a riverside stroll as lockdown lifted, and now a whole series of celebrity rambles is scheduled.

We’ll be pottering in the Yorkshire Dales with Steph McGovern, exploring the Kentish coastline with Jim Moir (better known as Vic Reeves) and striding out across the North York Moors with Monica Galetti. Kate kept assuring us that her natural home was the great outdoors, but she wasn’t keen on sharing it with cattle. A cow had chased her, when she was a little girl, for swishing a stick, she said.

A herd of Friesians eyed her with suspicion. Perhaps they didn’t like her selfie-camera on an extendable pole. Or perhaps they didn’t like to be spoken to like guests who were outstaying their welcome on Good Morning Britain: ‘Lovely to meet you all, keep chewing the cud.’

No one knew, but Kate Garraway is a bit of a hippy. Though she wasn’t wearing tie-dye or weaving flowers in her hair on Walking With . . . (BBC2), she was one of Nature’s Children

Kate was more at ease with the humans she encountered, especially a pair of potters on a smallholding in Upton St Leonards, near Gloucester.

Sean was hard at work with the clay, which his wife Victoria decorated with elegant calligraphy. ‘The way it works,’ Sean said, ‘is Vici tells me what to do, and I do it.’ That won Kate’s approval. ‘They’ve carved out their own slice of happiness,’ she said, musing on the difficult 18 months since her husband Derek was crippled by Covid.

Most of all, she kept drawing strength from the trees. Resting beside an oak that had been struck by lightning, she said: ‘They don’t give up, even when their roots have been shaken to the core.’

Stand-up comic Harriet Kemsley took a more jaundiced view of marriage, for the launch of Comedians Giving Lectures (Dave).

‘I didn’t take my husband’s name,’ she said, ‘because I am a strong, independent feminist. And, I didn’t think it would last.’

This format, hosted by Sara Pascoe, challenges three acts to recreate real lectures with titles borrowed from IBM conferences or symposiums at universities such as Stanford in California.


Comedians Giving Lectures, on Dave, is hosted by Sara Pascoe and included Jo Brand as three comedians are challenged to recreate real lectures

The producers were hoping that performers would write new gags to fit the bill. All too obviously, the material was mostly plundered from discarded routines. Jo Brand didn’t even bother to hide it, as she undermined her own lecture on why ‘older people are happier’.

‘I know it’s not true, you know it’s not true, but play along,’ she told her audience.

Jo’s best lines have always dripped with poison, and some of her jokes about the elderly were lethal: ‘I drove my dad to Dignitas. It was really sad . . . he managed to get out of the boot on the ferry.’

If she’s just going to tell some gags, regardless of the lecture theme, why bother with the format at all?.

Light sabre of the night

Professor Brian Cox was waving a laser pointer about the night sky on Universe (BBC2) as he pointed out distant star clusters. Special effects made it look like a Star Wars weapon. I bet he’d secretly rather be a Jedi Knight than a TV presenter.

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