Big, Bigger, Biggest Review: Dig This

July 28, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

BIG, BIGGER, BIGGEST: Tuesday 28th July, Five, 8pm Alert Me

On the face of it, watching a TV programme about some Swiss engineers digging a hole may not sound like the most enticing prospect – but this is not just any old hole.

As you may have guessed, this will eventually be the world’s biggest tunnel. Hurrah!

Big, Bigger, Biggest kicks-off a new series this week by telling the story of the Gotthard Base Tunnel which is being constructed underneath the Alps to connect Switzerland to northern Italy.

As the tale of this gargantuan engineering project unfolds, the narrator explains how various technological breakthroughs have eventually led to us to this moment of glory, and invites us to join with him as he laughs in nature’s face.

Anyone who has been forced to climb some godforsaken hill by their parents will know that it can be a torturous process. So I was very happy to spend an hour finding out that these science boffins had finally come up with a more sensible solution.

Subsequently, some of the programmes best sections come when we are introduced to the digging pioneers of previous generations who solved some tricky problems with a collection of very clever ideas.

Who would have thought that burrowing under or blasting through some natural obstacle would have been so dangerous?

Well apparently not Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who lost over 100 men as he borrowed a few ideas from the military to by-pass a troublesome hill over a century ago.

The Industrial revolution A-lister and serial nature-hater gets special mention for the use of dynamite in his assault upon Box Hill – a project signed-off under the pretence of creating a shortcut from Bristol to London.

Following this, we track further developments in the ‘evolution of tunnel-building’ until we are left with the current cutting-edge techniques being used beneath the Alps.

It turns out that every day 2,000 burrowers descend towards the rock face to continue work on this mammoth tunnel which – at 57 km long, will be the planets most impressive train-pipe.

The programme wallows shamelessly in the epic nature of its subject matter, but you can’t help but love its grandiose chat. CG effects bring technical explanations to life effortlessly and the music sounds like it could be from Lord of the Rings. Needless to say, we are left with the impression that it’s all very important.

As a whole these ingredients fit together very well to produce something intriguing and extremely watchable.

Sean Marland