YOU would have thought there were bottomless reasons to enjoy Blue Planet II – reasons as bottomless as the oceans explored in this BBC wildlife series, a follow-up to the original after 16 years.
But that is to reckon without Christopher Booker, veteran Telegraph columnist and long-term denier of climate change.
Never mind the breath-taking camera work; never mind images of dolphins surfing or cosying up with whales when you thought the whales had turned up in search of lunch; never mind the truly weird fish that could gender-swap from female to male; never mind the walrus herd struggling to find a piece of ice to call home.
No, Booker was in a grump after the first episode, grouching away in a piece headlined: “Fake news! How the BBC and Blue Planet got it wrong, yet again, about walruses and climate change.”
I don’t wish to waste your time with too much of what Booker had to say. Basically, he argued that Arctic ice wasn’t vanishing as Blue Planet and Sir David Attenborough postulated; and walruses were having the time of their tusked lives on all that non-disappearing ice.
The BBC and Attenborough could scarcely offer “a better example of what it likes to scorn as ‘fake news’,” said Booker, still at the misleading people game at the age of 80, which is going some.
As far back as October 2011, rival columnist George Monbiot in the Guardian dedicated a piece to “The superhuman cock-ups of Christopher Booker.”
Monbiot listed assorted sins against the fact committed by Booker. Luckily, viewers have been happy to ignore the likes of Booker. Viewing figures suggest that 14.1 million people saw the first episode of Blue Planet II – making it the most watched programme of 2017 so far.
And in cheering news, it beat Strictly Come Dancing and the X-Factor. While I don’t mind Strictly, I would rather go and sit at the end of the garden in the rain than watch a minute of that knackered Simon Cowell vehicle.
Anyway, how uplifting that so many people watch Blue Planet II, reportedly the third most watched programme of the past five years, behind the World Cup final in 2014 and the final of the BBC’s last Great British Bake Off. The Channel 4 hijacking of Bake Off went well, or so they tell me, but I left with a soggy-bottomed shrug after the first episode.
The second episode of Blue Planet II used a mini-submarine to dive deep and capture astonishing footage – and two unmanned submersibles to dive 1,000 feet below the Antarctic Ocean.
An unlikely cast of deep-down characters included creatures with unlikely names such as the hairy-chested Hoff crab, snub fin dolphins that spit water and a tusk fish that has learned how to use tools at dinnertime. As well as the huge-fanged fish, the flapjack octopus – does someone just make these names up? – a fish that sprouted legs, shrimps imprisoned in coral, and an astonishing sequence as six-gill sharks mobbed the sunken remains of a sperm whale, eating what may have been their first meal in a year, tearing great chunks of dead whale as blood inked the depths.
When the sharks were done, zombie worms – honestly, I am not making this up – used acid to burrow into the whale’s bones.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the fish with a see-through head. And in one heart-stopping sequence, the Christopher Booker flatfish was seen fighting over a copy of the Daily Telegraph with fellow climate-denying old crab Lord Lawson. Honestly, I just made that up. Or maybe Lord Lawson was really the ugly fish with the big teeth.