A pointed stick. Written and Presented by Terry Jones. On Fridays 9pm BBC2. Not the famous Monty Python sketch, but a series presented by Terry Jones called Terry Jones’ Barbarians. This week it was about the celts and this is what I thought of it.
I’m sorry but I felt let down and disappointed by this documentary. My husband is a Roman expert and has watched and read everything there is to know about Romans. I’ve been doing Iron Age research for a while for a project I’m working on, and between us we knew that there were some very big holes in this program.
Now I hate it when documentaries are critisised for ‘dumbing down’ their content and not being intellectual enough. Why shouldn’t they make programs easier to understand for those who aren’t so intellegent as them? It’s so snobbish and let’s face it, pretty pictures, diagrams, costumes and actors filling in the gaps make them so much more interesting as well.
BUT I hate it when the audience (the majority of which probably haven’t visited endless iron age sites or spent hours reading Roman texts) are led to believe something that isn’t necessarily true. This program was so heavily biased towards what Terry Jones set out to achieve in the first place, that huge stonking great facts were completely missed out. He was determined to prove that the Celts were a better and more peaceful-loving and decent society than the Romans and nothing was going to get in his way.
For example he interviewed a woman saying that Roman women weren’t allowed to have a career and that Celtic women were. When in fact many Roman women ran businesses and had trades – it was only the ‘upper class’ women that were expected to be good centurian wives.
Stories about Roman sieges were twisted and quotes taken out of context and in the end I stopped bothering to watch it properly and I told my daughter who is doing a school project on the Celts to stop taking notes because it was not giving a balanced and true portrait of the celts or the Romans to the point of being ridiculous.
I don’t mind intellectual, boring and hugely biased historical documentaries on the discovery or History channels done by archeologists who really should take a lesson in presenting tv programs (well I do actually, because they are so boring. While my husband watches them, I sit with the laptop on my lap typing up my book) because you know that the next program will be done by another expert with the opposite opinion to the one before, but if you’re watching those programs, you’ll eventually get the full picture.
Apart from the misinformation, the program just wasn’t put together very well. One second it’s doing a roman seige, the next it’s celtic life 300 years earlier, then it’s about druids, then about calendars, then it’s gone back to the seige again. It was hard to follow.
I’m frankly disappointed by Terry Jones. Has he sold out to receive a big cheque to present a program that really he had little involvement in? He should stick to Chaucer and the medieval period; or even better go and write another book following on from The Knight and the Squire and The Lady and the Squire. Those were great children’s books and were obviously meant to have more in the series.