The Girl Who Talked to Dolphins, BBC4 - TV review
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Wednesday 18 June 2014
Those who spotted last week's salacious headlines about a woman and a dolphin may wonder why BBC4 didn't choose a very different verb to title last night's documentary, The Girl Who Talked to Dolphins. Those who saw last night's documentary, however, will understand. The story of Dr John Lilly's experiment with interspecies communication is about so much more than a bit of human-dolphin lovin'.
During the 1960s, Lilly and his collaborators used funding from Nasa to create "Dolphin House" in the American Virgin Islands, essentially a flooded beach-side villa where the young research assistant Margaret Howe Lovatt lived side by side, six days a week, with a dolphin called Peter. Archive stills showed the glamorous Lovatt at work, looking like Audrey Hepburn in a swimsuit advert. Unfortunately, these charming photographs seem to have been of much more lasting value than the scientific research she conducted.
This was a very Sixties tale, involving sexual liberation, space exploration and injecting dolphins with LSD, but since both Lilly and his main collaborator, Dr Gregory Bateson, have now passed on, it was up to others to tell it. This was done in just an hour, leaving a sense of many interesting tangents left unexplored. But perhaps that's a fitting fate for one of science's ego-driven Great Men – to have his life's work ruthlessly summarised by the widows, ex-wives, and disgruntled young assistants who outlived him.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Does the path to true love really lie in these 36 questions?
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Presidential optical illusion offers clues to how brain processes faces
- 5 Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him tickets after that Wembley Stadium rant
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Costa Book Awards: H is for Hawk named book of the year
Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels: 'Kendrick Lamar is killing it - but radios are too afraid to play him'
Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Louise Mensch says 'F**K YOU' in explosive tweets about David Cameron, Saudi Embassy and the Queen over King Abdullah tributes