Britain’s Greatest Machines – Series 1 DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 8.0
Video 8.0
Audio 7.0
Special Features   N/A
Total 8.0
Distributor: Madman
Classification: E
Minutes: 188 minutes
Reviewer: Simon Black

8.0


Britain’s Greatest Machines – Series 1

Hosted by Red Dwarf’s Chris Barrie, the first series of Britain’s Greatest Machines runs a generous three hours and proves a typically exhaustive and well-presented effort from National Geographic. 

The series, as the title would suggest, aims to explore the principal feats of British engineering that have helped shaped the modern world.  Each of its four episodes is devoted to a particular decade, charting the development of early commercial airliners, the rise of the motorcar and the mass production techniques that revolutionised the availability of machines.  The show also looks at some of the principal works of wartime engineering, charting the origins and historical context of each and detailing how some of these impressive creations – such as the fearsome Crusader tank – were used to put the frighteners of Fritz during WWII. 

The episodes featured are: 

1930s: The Road to War

Barrie manages to set aside his fear of flying long enough to take a ride in the Dragon Rapide, a 1930s 8-seater aircraft that provides the first commercial flights between London and Paris, boasting  flight time of just over three hours.  Barrie also helms an A4 Gressly train, the world’s fastest steam locomotive, test drives the Morris road vehicle of the day and looks at how many of the engineering breakthroughs of the era were later put to use in developing wartime technology such as the pride of the British air force, the Spitfire. 

1950s: A New World Order

The post-WWII period brought new challenges for a Britain which was determined to remain a world leader in engineering and technology in the face of a new world order dominated by bickering superpowers.  This episode sees Barrie firing up another array of impressive machines, including a Deltic Diesel locomotive and a Vulcan bomber, and charting the interesting and unlikely role of the Lovell Telescope in the Cold War.  

1960s: Revolution By Design

Chris Barrie gets some speed in Monte Carlo at the wheel of a Mini Cooper and also takes a look at one of the period’s more overlooked methods of vehicular transport – the hovercraft.  The rise of that most quintessentially British creature, the ‘white van man,’ is discussed, and Barrie channels the spirit of the Swinging 60s by hosting a Miss World competition – for cars. 

1980s: The Future Has Landed

In this episode Barrie lives the dream of anyone who grew up in the 1980s by taking a ride in a DeLorean DMC.  That’s right – time machine from Back to the Future.  The inventions discussed are once more intelligently laid out against a potent historical and psychological backdrop of the Falklands War, oil crises and the decline of traditional manufacturing techniques, and the series comes to a fitting close with a look at the Sinclair C-5 and some of the world’s most high-performance sports cars. 

Audio & Video

The series is beautifully shot and Barrie, despite these days bearing an uncanny resemblance to a hamster, proves a likable and charismatic host.  Picture quality is excellent and the anamorphic 16:9 widescreen presentation the perfect platform for the series’ detailed exposition of all things mechanical.  A selection of well-sourced period footage and wartime photography adds an additional layer of insight to the proceedings and sound quality is also strong, with the DD 2.0 soundtrack featured on most Nat Geo documentaries again proving more than adequate.  No special features are includes but the set opens with a couple of trailers.






 
 



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