Today's letter from the Editor
Today's Matrices
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

iWriters: We need to see these TV images

 

In these darkened days of Delivering Quality First, cutbacks and the rising, thrashing tides of reality television, BBC1's Frozen Planet is revelatory. A timely reminder of the BBC at its best, it's a showcase for public-service broadcasting: epic in scope and poised with grandeur, its calm authority and elegant images are a mid-week salve, a bulwark against the shrill catcalls of the weekend fare.

And, thank God, we're paying attention – 9.7 million of us, according to Barb. That's more than the Saturday evening audience for The X Factor (9.6 million), which should surely give us all some hope to cling to. Frozen Planet takes us close to a landscape that few of us understand and rarely consider: a third of our planet, crucial to maintaining the earth's eco-systems, which remains shrouded in ignorance. We need these images. But news this week that the series has been curtailed to aid international sales has been met with sharp criticism, environmental groups decrying the BBC's move to market the seventh episode, the only one to deal explicitly with climate change, as an optional extra - and one that the key polluting countries, including the US, are unlikely to see. The BBC's defence stresses that this episode is different – that, being presenter-led, it causes issues for dubbing and audience reception that the other six did not.

Yet that's the problem. In backloading the scientific observation to a bolt-on finale, its warnings are eclipsed by a dangerous message of climate change as a fringe concern, an afterthought shrugged to the graveyard shift so as not to mar our entertainment. In packaging the uncomfortable and oh-so-inconvenient truths so neatly into a single hour, the BBC has made them all too easy to ignore. "Thanks for the warning. I will know now to avoid the last one," says one below-the-line commenter on the The Daily Telegraph's website, but at least we have the option to watch it. When broadcasters shy away from controversial programming – or assist others in doing so – they aren't just doing their viewers a disservice but neglecting a duty to present the world as it is, not just as we might wish it to be.

Frozen Planet is beautiful, stunningly crafted television, but a slightly neglected opportunity. We need these images, sure, but more than this we need to know what they mean and why we soon may not be seeing them again. Otherwise, what are we watching beyond a cosy stream of Disney narratives, of anthropomorphised animals eating, mating, playing and fighting? We get enough of those stories on Saturday nights.

Christian Cottingham is a Multimedia Journalism student at Sussex University

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little