I’m An Alcoholic (Channel 5)
Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough (BBC 1)
At a time when our increasingly nannying government has issued stringent new guidelines on drinking, the issue of alcohol consumption has never been more pertinent.
In last night’s I’m An Alcoholic (Channel 5), we were shown men and women who regularly consumed in just one hour the number of units recommended for a whole week.
All of those featured are now, thankfully, in recovery. For some this has only been for a few weeks but others have been sober for 30 years. The one thing they shared was having hit rock bottom before realising they had a serious problem.
Rachael, 31, a gifted cello player whose music provided the soundtrack for the programme, used to disappear into supermarket lavatories to decant the cheap vodka she’d just bought into empty water bottles to disguise the fact she was an alcoholic
For Lucy, 39, a highly articulate businesswoman, that moment came when she collapsed in the street after consuming three bottles of wine in three hours. Because she had a good job, a nice home and only ever drank ‘fine wine’, she convinced herself she wasn’t an alcoholic.
John, 50, who had his first drink at the age of 12, realised how bad he’d become when he found himself on the receiving end of a stern lecture … from a heroin addict.
Rachael, 31, a gifted cello player whose music provided the soundtrack for the programme, used to disappear into supermarket lavatories to decant the cheap vodka she’d just bought into empty water bottles to disguise the fact she was an alcoholic.
While the depths to which some of the admirably honest contributors sunk was shocking, they all admitted to looking scornfully at some of the other people they met when they attended their first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
‘I don’t have my first drink until the evening, so I’m not as bad as you,’ was a common theme.
Liz, 38, a vivacious GP, found herself turning to alcohol after a long day in the surgery. Professional concerns about whether she’d given her patients the right advice and treatment, she claimed, drove her to the bottle.
For others it was simply that alcohol gave them the courage to talk to others and get through the day. Nick, who said he drank because it made him feel more confident, went into rehab and then considered himself ‘cured’ — but like two-thirds of alcoholics he relapsed.
Another alcoholic explained how after leaving a drying-out clinic, he was given a book signed by his fellow residents — more than half of whom, he said, are now dead.
Shot in simple talking-head format with real people speaking straight to camera — no voice-over or expert commentary — the programme proved that the simplest approaches can often be the most dramatic.
The final episode of the three-part series of Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough looked at the future of the reef, which is home to half a million species
By comparison, a programme that was so difficult to make that it was followed by an explanatory ‘how we did it’ section at the end, was David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef (BBC 1). This final episode in the three-part series looked at the future of the reef — home to half a million species.
In the past 30 years, more than half the coral has disappeared. At a laboratory in Queensland, marine scientists were able to simulate how the coral might suffer in another 30 years’ time if sea levels continue to rise and there is a two-degree rise in temperature.
The experiment, quite shockingly, revealed that the coral became ‘stressed’, stopped photosynthesising (turning sunlight into energy) and became white before dying.
It’s 60 years since Sir David first visited the Great Barrier Reef and last night’s episode featured grainy black and white footage of him at the same spot as a young naturalist with puppyish enthusiasm, marvelling at all he saw.
Today, he may be a little shakier and angry at how mankind is destroying the natural world he loves, but the enthusiasm and wonder has not faded.
Typical was his thrill at encountering a fish at 300m deep. Lost briefly in his own world, he attempted to ‘talk’ to the creature by mimicking its movements and gesturing at it to approach.
During this dive (in a special submersible vessel), he broke a world record, earning him a special commendation from President Obama.
Sir David once said he’d retire from making nature programmes when he turned 80. Now, four months from his 90th birthday, can there be anyone who isn’t delighted that he didn’t stick to his word?