Twenty years ago, author Douglas Adams and photographer/naturalist Mark Cawardine traveled the globe in search of some of the most endangered species imaginable. This resulted in the superb book Last Chance to See, which I highly recommend, due in equal part to the extremely interesting content and the wonderful way that Douglas Adams looked at everything. I had the pleasure of experiencing it originally as an audibook read by Adams himself, which I believe increased the enjoyability immensely. He's downright hilarious. If you haven't read it, I suspect you'd like doing so.
In any case, long-time friend of Douglas Adams, Stephen Fry, has set about attempting to revisit all of the endangered species Douglas did twenty years ago in order to see how they're doing today. He's joined by none other than Mark Cawardine himself, lending an extremely knowledgeable air to the whole endeavor as he once again attempts to photograph these rare, splendid creatures. The BBC has filmed each leg of the journey, and has been broadcasting the resultant documentary, likewise entitled Last Chance to See. Thus far, it's been equal parts educational, hilarious and heartbreaking.
The programme is available via iPlayer, unless you happen to live outside the UK. If, like me, you don't actually have access to all the fine programmes the BBC airs, it can quite easily be acquired via the usual dark underbellies of the Internet to which we all frequently turn in order to acquire content that licensing issues prevent us from accessing legitimately. Three episodes have aired thus far, and it really behooves you to make the effort to track them down. You'll thank me later.
I heartily recommend that you're watching "Stephen Fry in America", one of the finest television programs about the great country of America that this American has ever seen.
Mr. Fry travels around the country in his London taxi cab, talking to interesting people and learning about life in our country. As one who has spent almost all his time in a very limited area of this country, the things Stephen sees are pretty fascinating to me, as are the people he talks to -- almost all of which are the types of people one wouldn't expect a traveler from another country to want to talk to. Four of the six episodes have aired, and thus far Mr. Fry has visited whiskey factories and corpse farms, been forced to endure riding a horse, seen a deactivated Cold War missile silo, designed his own flavor of ice cream with Ben & Jerry, had a deep-fried southern Thanksgiving and done heaps of traveling and even more monologuing.
Unsurprisingly, this fantastic look at each state of America comes not from American television, but from those nice blokes at the BBC, meaning that if you don't happen to live within broadcast range of the BBC, you'll have to resort to the usual sneakiness involved in watching television from another country. It'll be well worth your time, I promise.
Also, I fully expect Jim Dale to go traipsing around London in his NYC Yellow Cab ANY DAY NOW.
If you do the podcast thing, and I suspect you might, Stephen Fry probably belongs in your subscriptions. Frankly, I am a bit surprised that Jim Dale isn't recording an "American" version for us U.S. listeners, but for that I am glad.
Can anyone explain to me why Stephen Fry reads the audiobooks over in the UK, while we Americans get Jim Dale -- a different British actor?
I mean, I can ALMOST understand wanting to have an American read it in the American version, but replacing one perfectly good Brit with another? Surely there is a reason for this illogical duplication of effort resulting in an inferior product? (No offense, Jim.)
Sure, Jim does neat voices, but STEPHEN FRY. The voice of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Short of reading it yourself, having Stephen Fry read a book to you is the pinnacle of book reading enjoyment.
Hopefully when the Harry Potter prequel and sequel serieses come out they'll save themselves a bunch of time and money and just give us Americans the Stephen Fry versions. I don't think I can sit through another 14 volumes knowing that there's a better product out there that just isn't available to me.