Monday, April 22, 2013

The boat that guy built - TV series with examples of trades / craft work


A couple of months ago, I happened on the first episode of the programme, ' The boat that Guy built' on Choice TV. It was on a very warm January Sunday (or Saturday) evening  while also recovering from a very hot day’s tramping. Otherwise, it’s usually the time I walk the dog or water the garden. I have only had access to Choice TV since putting in a Freeview box (end of November) to access digital TV channels (entire South Island goes digital end of this week). Channel surfing over the Christmas break found some interesting programmes on Choice TV, so this has been the channel to check out whenever I do sit in front of the TV with ipad on to read books or check out favourite websites and blogs.

The 2011 series was produced by BBC TV and all 6 episodes can be downloaded through the BBC site. The series revolves around the restoration of a ‘long’ canal boat in the UK by a personable presenter, Guy Martin and his friend (a carpenter), Mark Davies (aka Mave). Through the series, various notable inventions and industries from the Britain’s industrial age are introduced. The general plot is for Guy to make various necessities to get his boat going. This requires Guy to consult and learn from various craft and trades experts. Observations are made of a range of craft / trade skills usually not accessible to lay people. 

In episode one, Guy makes a tea cup (actually a wedgewoodmug) and a kettle (a pot) to make tea, a requirement for any type of work activity. Guy learns how to shape a mug on a pottery wheel and mould figures to put on to the side of his mug. He also helps to make a blast furnace to smelt iron ore to cast the pot. In each of these activities, he is ‘taught’ by experts and there are good examples of how experts ‘show’ novices their ease with the tools and materials of their craft.

Since then, I have managed to miss every episode L. Sunday evenings are just too good to ‘waste’ sitting in front of the TV. However, all not lost as all the episodes archived on the BBC site. My only challenge was to find the time to view some of them.  The opportunity arose yesterday, the first really wet weekend in about 4 months!  I watched (intermittently while minding some baking and cooking) episodes 3 (a good night’s sleep) and 4 (beans on toast).  Both suitably interesting, with episode three visiting a mattress manufacturer. One of the workers shows how to put on the layers of a mattress which required not only dexterity but attuning to the range of materials used.

Took me most of the time 'viewing' episode 3 to work out the best place in the kitchen to set up the ipad. So that I could view the programme while also chopping, stirring and keeping watch on pots on the stove and baking in the oven. Sound was also an issue so will need to see if I can get my son to work out how to hook the ipad up to a mini speaker system. Otherwise, might need to stick to catching up on podcasts (on ipod touch and earphones) when in the kitchen.

There is a follow up series in 2012 of sorts called ‘how Britain worked’. It might run on Choice TV in the future so will keep an eye out for it.The series is a good change from the run of 'reality TV' dished out on NZ public TV. The range consisting mainly of people aspiring to become chefs or people trying to lose weight or talent shows. Showing a range of real occupations,even though we only get a very small glimpse,provides the general public with a sense of the craftmanship inherent in various trades and the time and effort required to learn trade skills.