29 July 2011

BBC TV's "Coast" in Sweden: multiple fail

I despair at Coast. As previously blogged here, in the first episode of this series they managed to place Dover in Essex on a map, but last week’s programme about Sweden’s Baltic coast had me repeatedly shouting “Fail” at the screen.

Firstly, there’s the age-old problem of Brits being utterly unaware of accented characters and the importance thereof in other languages – so we get map captions that say “Hogbonden” instead of “Högbonden” and “Aland” instead of “Åland”. FAIL. It’s ignorant, disrespectful and wrong. They are different letters, not just funny marks that don’t matter. Imagine the condescending laughter if “foreigners” were to broadcast misspellings such as Löndon or The Ile of Weight. And don’t get me started on presenter Nicholas Crane’s dodgy (and inconsistent) pronunciation of non-English placenames. The BBC gives its newsreaders advice and training on this point, but apparently not its other presenters.

And then we have the obligatory visit to the tiny island of Viggsö (near Stockholm), where ABBA wrote many of their most famous songs. Except that, in this programme, the piece on this island was featured near the start of the show, sandwiched between two pieces about Sweden’s High Coast – the implication being that Viggsö is in the remote north, which it isn’t. FAIL. The piece should have been towards the end of the programme, as the notional journey taken on this episode ended in Stockholm.

Final whinge: the programme visited the Åland Islands, but at no time was it mentioned that the islands are actually part of Finland (although the inhabitants speak Swedish). In a programme specifically about the Swedish coast, this omission implied that the islands form part of Sweden. FAIL.