So tonight I found myself watching The Viking Saga on BBC4. It’s a documentary tracing the origins of some of the epic Scandinavian tales which had so much influence on European storytelling – from Wagner and Lord of the Rings through to modern (and very popular) Scandinoirvian fiction.
I don’t quite know how I made the connection, but I started to think of Tony Robinson.
Mention Tony Robinson and most people think of Baldrick from Blackadder or Time Team. I was thinking of another, perhaps less well-known programme – Tony’s epic retelling of Odysseus: Greatest Hero of Them All.
The programme retold the Homeric tales. There were no props, there were no extras, there was Tony Robinson walking urgently towards the camera, telling stories from Ancient Greece.
It was some of the most gripping TV I have ever seen. Robinson is a consummate storyteller, and like the Saga’s mentioned in tonight’s BBC4 show, he painted vivid pictures with words, nothing more.
It managed to convey the power of language, the thrill of a tale well told, better than almost anything I have come across since.
Sadly turning to YouTube and the net has turned up nothing. A trawl of the BBC archives, nada.
I did find comment after comment on TV forums all across the net extolling its virtues. Perhaps an email to Auntie tomorrow might turn up some new leads – until then all I have found is this sad entry in IMDb and a couple of covers of the book. Any leads gratefully received…
Heard back from the BBC’s DVD publisher 2Entertain that they do not hold the rights to the programme.
“Unfortunately we at 2entertain do not own the DVD rights to this programme so I am afraid we have no plans to release it. The rights are held by the BBC Rights Archive.
We appreciate all of the feedback that we receive from the viewing public, so thank you again for your correspondence.
Please note there is a limited range of titles previously transmitted on www.bbc.co.uk/archive”
Will update when I get any more details.