December 29, 2016


Flying Scotsman: a journey in slow television : An hour-long television special of a real time train journey through England hopes to be 'absorbing for its own sake' (Esther Addley,  29 December 2016, The Guardian)

It's not everyone's idea of gripping television. A train advances steadily along a railway track, without commentary or music. After a full, wordless minute, the view switches to the front of the train, where a static camera captures the track being eaten up, sleeper by sleeper. [...]

[T]he BBC is hoping that these scenes could provide an unlikely audience hit this Christmas, when it screens an hour-long, real time journey of the most famous steam locomotive in the world: the newly restored Flying Scotsman.

The programme, broadcast on 29 December, captures a journey made this summer by the locomotive from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster, a distance of 16 miles, shot almost entirely from static cameras fixed to the locomotive: inside the cab, on top of the coal stack and next to the pistons and crank shafts. Other cameras on bridges or signal boxes capture lingering shots as the locomotive, pulling nine carriages, chuffs past.

No one interacts with the cameras, and aside from a moment when the fireman Ryan Green puts a little too much coal on the fire and has to vent some steam, nothing much happens.

Yet to judge from the crowds of people who can be glimpsed crammed on to bridges and platforms and bunched in fields to wave and film on their phones, the fascination with this particular locomotive extends far beyond railway enthusiasts.

Posted by at December 29, 2016 2:55 PM