On Sunday the BBC’s Frozen Planet made a triumphant return to our screens.
And not a moment too soon.
Whether you have been deeply saddened by the death of Queen Elizabeth or found the coverage somewhat cloying, a new David Attenborough documentary provides just the tonic.
While opinions vary on the monarchy, David Attenborough is a unifying figure.
He is a national treasure in the truest sense of the word.
It’s been more than a decade since the original Frozen Planet captivated the nation with snowy scenes of nature’s wonders.
Thank goodness its much-anticipated sequel survived the many cultural cancellations that we’ve seen over the last week.
BBC bigwigs obviously understand the soothing power of excellent television.
In an age of on-demand entertainment and streaming services, it’s increasingly rare to find a programme that families will sit down to watch together as it airs.
It’s water-cooler TV.
Today, office workers up and down the land will be engaged in fierce debates about whether they wanted the sleeping bear or the starving tiger to come out on top.
That first episode felt like an event and served as an hour-long reminder of why the BBC licence fee is good value for money.
We travelled from Antarctica to the Arctic and onwards to Greenland.
What a treat it is to discover the secrets of these far-flung places while wearing pyjamas and drinking a cup of tea.
David Attenborough AND baby penguins
David Attenborough’s silky tones narrated pictures of such spectacular beauty that, at times, I found I was holding my breath.
There were also baby penguins.
After the week we’ve had, we really needed the baby penguins.
As ever, there were moments of high drama and peril. In one particularly brutal scene (that I won’t spoil for you) we saw nature’s equivalent of mass murder.
I found myself identifying strongly with the Pallas’s cat, which has been dubbed the ‘grumpiest cat in the world’.
Frozen Planet II provided everything I was looking for and more.”
The poor soul was hungry and crabbit but it’s chubby physique and wee short legs meant that its hunt for voles and gerbils was ultimately unsuccessful. We’ve all been there, pal.
One of my most favourite things about nature programmes is seeing the courtship rituals of our furry friends. The dances, the songs, the colour-changing genitals – I can’t get enough of it.
Frozen Planet II provided everything I was looking for and more.
We got to witness a disgustingly captivating scene where an amorous male seal inflated his nostrils like a bagpipe to try and woo a girl seal he fancied.
She knocked him back, but you’ve got to admire the effort.
You just don’t see that level of commitment on the dating apps these days.
Frozen Planet II is blockbuster TV with an important message
As well as showcasing the unforgiving brutality and immense beauty of our icy lands, the programme also contained a warning about climate change.
As the world warms, these animals are having to adapt to survive.
I’ll admit that the slow death of our planet is not always top of my agenda. But when I saw the footage of the polar bear struggling to find dinner because the melting ice had reduced its available hunting ground, I resolved to do better.
I don’t need single-use plastics as much as a breastfeeding polar bear needs a juicy seal.
Near the end of the programme we learned that some of the incredible footage we’d just witnessed took three years to compile. Some things are worth waiting for.
The technical skills and expertise of the film crew and researchers involved is unrivalled.
Frozen Planet II is blockbuster TV that arrived on our screens at the moment we most needed it.
Welcome back, Sir David. You’ve still got it.
Faster than 10mph? What’s the rush?
After more than a decade of being a committed scaredy cat, I’ve finally started driving lessons.
In the end, it wasn’t a newfound bravery or self-belief that inspired me to take the plunge, but my eight-year-old daughter’s increasingly busy social calendar.
There’s a cost of living crisis on and I can no longer justify my chronic taxi habit.
It’s early days, but the lessons are going well. By which, I mean I haven’t crashed into a lamppost yet.
My instructor is brutally honest with me, which I appreciate.
The other day she told me that I wasn’t her worst student: an accolade I was disproportionately pleased about.
During last week’s lesson my instructor took me on to a big-girl road and told me my snail-pace was no longer acceptable.”
Driving is really hard.
I’m even struggling with the stuff that I thought would be relatively easy, like steering and remembering which pedal works the brake.
It’s slow progress and Scotland will be an independent country by the time I pass my test.
But I have recently made a breakthrough.
I’ve struggled to get above 10mph since starting lessons. It just feels too fast and, really, what’s the rush?
During last week’s lesson my instructor took me on to a big-girl road and told me my snail-pace was no longer acceptable.
‘’Faster! Faster! No, really, this is dangerous, you need to go faster!’’ she shouted at me until, finally, I reached a respectable 22mph.
She said she was proud of me.
Which was nice. Just as long as she doesn’t expect me to do the same next week.