Now while I write about TV shows I'm not a fanatical watcher of TV. In actual fact over the years I would characterise my TV watching as irregular more than anything. However one thing I have always been a fan of is BBC documentaries. Always informative, well made & great entertainment, BBC documentaries have developed a worldwide reputation for excellence. So it was with a lot of excitement that I looked forward to the corporations latest offering, Wonders of the Solar System. And I wasn't disappointed with the first episode of the series Empire of the Sun starting it all off on a very positive note.
The series is helmed by Professor Brian Cox a scientist who holds a chair in particle physics at the University of Manchester. Having appeared on numerous TV shows including Horizon, Professor Cox has become a familiar face on British television. As an enthusiastic presenter he has the ability to make science both relevant & engaging for a much wider audience than would be typical for a programme of this type. And it is this interesting & exciting approach that serves Empire of the Sun so well. Taking a subject matter that is familiar to millions Empire of the Sun provides a fascinating insight into the workings of our Sun. We learn about solar seasons, the gravitational power of the sun, the effect of solar winds as well as so much more.
Conveying his love & passion for the subject at hand one cannot but be drawn in to the programme. And Cox is not your typical physicist mixing in phrases like "the solar system coming down and grabbing you by the throat" to refer to a solar eclipse. Alongside this enthusiasm it was the ability to balance the science so that it does not become too technical nor overly simplified that helps the programme prove relevant.
Like most modern documentaries there were plenty of computer generated graphics to keep us entertained/informed. Of these my favourite shot was the view of the Sun from Sedna, a distant dwarf planet. The graphics themselves were not especially impressive but it allowed you to visualise the enormous distance between it & the Sun (some 13 billion miles).
Other than this the display of the aurora borealis was also eye catching. Which leads me to my only gripe about the show. The use of background music was a tad over done but it is just a minor point.
Overall the show was an excellent addition to BBC's stable of award winning documentaries. It was fascinating hour of television that highlighted everything that the BBC does so well & I can't wait for episode two Order out of Chaos, which airs on Sunday BBC2 at 9pm.
For anybody who missed Empire of the Sun it is currently on BBC iPlayer & is available for viewing via the following link Wonders of the Solar System.