A Break From The Usual

Canoe in mist



We spend most of our time making criticisms of the BBC, that being the nature of this site, but in an indulgent break from that here’s a film from the BBC that is a showcase for the brilliant material that it can produce……Mississippi: Tales of the Last River Rat

‘An intimate and poetic portrayal of wildlife along the Upper Mississippi River – seen through the eyes of Kenny Salwey; a beguiling backwoodsman, storyteller and philosopher of nature, who has lived his life in a log cabin, a stone’s throw from the water’s edge.

This film is a sumptuous evocation of the outstanding natural beauty of one of America’s most iconic rivers – a story that focuses on the plants and animals closest to the narrator’s heart. Country blues combined with wild tracks recorded on location add an authentic atmosphere to the story of Kenny Salwey’s deep, almost spiritual connection to the mighty Mississippi.’

I saw this fim years ago and have never seen it since until I eventually dug it up on YouTube (It’s in 5 parts…50 minutes total)….


The BBC seems to have forgotten all about this magnificent little film with its great music, wildlife photography and narration, and haven’t even produced a DVD for the series as far as I can see.

Maybe they’ll rectify that one day…..judging by the reviews it’s surprisng the films have been forgotten…



Nancy Banks-Smith, The Guardian
Kenny himself is one of those flowers who are born to bloom unseen unless they are spotted by a sympathetic producer and poetic photographer. (I had never noticed before how water behaves on a duck’s back. It rolls around like mercury.) As the producer’s name, Andrew Graham-Brown, suggests, this is a British production.

Radio Times
…..it’s probably the most languorously beautiful film you’ve seen for sometime. There’s a poetic quality about Andrew Graham-Brown’s film….

Judy Adamson, The Sydney Morning Herald
If it were possible to give two upward thumbs, this documentary would easily earn the extra kudos…. Before long you’re completely drawn in to his world and you feel a real pull of regret when the program ends and you have to leave.

The Observer
In terms of natural history film making this is an outstanding programme.

The Guardian
….an exquisitely filmed documentary….

Royal Television Society
Stunningly beautiful and poetic photography …. Sensuous and languid, the remarkable footage captured all the moods of the river at all times of day and year. Often complex filming techniques never got in the way of the subject or mood of the piece. This was a near-perfect piece of natural history filming.


And as a bonus here’s a short film that I saw whilst hunting down the one above…



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6 Responses to A Break From The Usual

  1. Essexman says:

    Nowadays the BBC would not be interested in him , as he is `Hideously White`. On the other hand if he was an Apache ,or an evil Redneck ,hours of exposure would come his way.


    • BBC delenda est says:

      Redneck. Indeed.

      This word, Redneck, can be used with impunity. Because the subject is white people, who deserve any and all insults. Encouraged by Al-Beeb.

      Blackneck however, referring to people whose necks are, er, black, is intolerable, because”we” will not tolerate it, because “we” are tolerant.

      Sounds like colourism to me, or should it be colorism?

      If it should be colorism, this is anti-U-ism in, hideously prevalent in North America. Should that be hideosly?


      • Grant says:

        Shouldn’t all white Americans be described as ” Imperialist colonists ” ?


      • Banquosghost says:

        The phrase redneck comes from a Boer word ‘Rudderneker’ (spelling, haven’t looked it up).

        This referred to the bright red sunburnt British soldiers. How it came to be associated with the white folks of the south I don’t know!


  2. Edward says:

    When you look back at all the original programmes the BBC used to produce, it makes you wonder where all that creativity went. I would hazard a guess that the BBC’s sheer size and self-importance has skewed its judgement of what is seen to be creative. Ratings are not a good indicator of originality, creativity or even excellence.
    Just because a TV show gets the most ratings doesn’t mean that show is the best that can be achieved. It could be that they’re all poor shows, it’s just that we haven’t had the benefit of seeing the best yet.

    Looking back at Dr Who in the 70’s, I see a low budget sci-fi series with wobbly sets and robots with whisks and plungers sticking out of them. That didn’t stop me watching the show, probably because, with a low budget, there is more of a requirement for creativity, and Dr Who didn’t disappoint in that respect.

    The BBC need to give new talent more access to its resources. There are literally thousands of writers out there all eager to get their ideas seen, even if those ideas never get to the development stage. But I’m afraid the BBC, in its pursuit of ratings, will avoid taking a risk on what could be an overwhelming success.


    • More Like The Soviet Bloc Every Day says:

      When you look back at all the original programmes the BBC used to produce, it makes you wonder where all that creativity went.

      I reckon it’s the stifling grip of central planning. The production values of the BBC I find very high but much of the soul of many programs has disappeared because the tone and content of everything is largely overseen and vetted.

      A great essay for anyone interested by George Orwell called the Prevention of Literature, where he discusses how totalarianism ultimately destroys literature and therefore all creativity.

      He says great things in it such as:

      “Freedom of the intellect means the freedom to report what one has seen, heard, and felt, and not to be obliged to fabricate imaginary facts and feelings.”

      “…in England the immediate enemies of truthfulness, and hence of freedom of thought, are the press lords, the film magnates, and the bureaucrats, but that on a long view the weakening of the desire for liberty among the intellectuals themselves is the most serious symptom of all.”

      “And so far as freedom of expression is concerned, there is not much difference between a mere journalist and the most “unpolitical” imaginative writer. The journalist is unfree, and is conscious of unfreedom, when he is forced to write lies or suppress what seems to him important news; the imaginative writer is unfree when he has to falsify his subjective feelings, which from his point of view are facts. He may distort and caricature reality in order to make his meaning clearer, but he cannot misrepresent the scenery of his own mind; he cannot say with any conviction that he likes what he dislikes, or believes what he disbelieves. If he is forced to do so, the only result is that his creative faculties will dry up. Nor can he solve the problem by keeping away from controversial topics. There is no such thing as a genuinely non-political literature, and least of all in an age like our own, when fears, hatreds, and loyalties of a directly political kind are near to the surface of everyone’s consciousness.”

      you can find the whole thing online at