Four-part documentary series in which historian Tristram Hunt explores the scientific, cultural, economic and political aspects of Protestantism. In this opening part, he uncovers how a ... See full synopsis »
Interesting but the delivery suggests it lacks confidence in its own material at times
I was brought up a Protestant and this is what drew my eye to this series on BBC4 a few weeks ago. Otherwise I'm not sure quite what about the subject as a title or summary in a TV guide would bring in the viewers. And this is a shame because the films are actually very interesting and does a reasonably good job of following the development of Protestantism and what impact it had on society as it developed . It is a hard sell and there is no getting away from it but at its best the series lets the material do the talking, using experts and tours to help the viewer understand and appreciate the points being put forward.
Not all of it rings totally true and some of the points didn't really convince me, but this is what I liked about the series, mentally it engaged me so I was listening and thinking for myself as a result of it. However the makers don't seem to have been totally sure that the material is good enough to do this by itself and this doubt shows through in their packaging and delivery. All the modern tricks are used and nothing seems held back. The camera whooshes around at times, aerial shots are used for little reason, re-enactments are thrown out as an afterthought, graphics are used and the music is at times similar to a Hollywood epic. The result of all this is that I felt a bit silly watching it and being told how exciting it all was, rather than just being allowed to be interested in the subject.
It doesn't help that Hunt is a weak presenter. That he knows his stuff is not in doubt because as writer he has structured his points well but as presenter he comes over as very light and lacking a passion of authority he has passion but it lacks something, I think it is his age that takes away but certainly something is missing. Despite his slightly weak lead and the needlessly "hyper" delivery at times, the series is actually very interesting and I was surprised by how it turned out considering the title and subject make it sound like it will be akin to a dull history lesson from school.