Whether you love or hate the auto-show that apologises for nothing and dollops on the right wing, schoolboy humour is the curse of Top Gear. It is nevertheless a fact that whatever each presenter does aside from Top Gear will carry the stigma that will put some of you off. However, before you consign Richard Hammond’s latest output to the pre-determined scrapheap, take another look; this may just surprise you.

Based around the concept that evolution has already provided the answers to technological questions that still hamper the scientists and technicians of today, Hammond in three episodes flits around the globe observing nature’s work at first hand, with what has to be admitted to be captivating camera work. Then with the technology explained, we are taken to scientific research centres attempting to imitate these ecological designs and apply them to the needs of the 21st century.

Of particular entertainment and interest are the pieces on how a giraffe is able to stem blood flow when it lowers its neck to regulate the pressure in its skull, and how this technology is being applied to the creation and design of flight suits for jet pilots, in using similar valves to control blood flow allowing them to withstand greater G-force than ever before. As well as a fascinating look into how the same design of a rainforest butterfly’s wing, which enables it to be waterproof, has been imitated by a lab in Britain and can now be applied to any surface. As demonstrated by the coating of an iPhone in the new spray, then promptly submerging it in water, the standard instant death treatment for any technology, however it still works perfectly when submerged!

The DVD format is simple and stylish, the only additions to the three episodes are some stills from the series in very high definition, and somewhat unnecessarily, Richard Hammond’s credits from all past work (I personally would have left Blast Lab off there). Over three episodes, whether you love or hate Richard Hammond, some part of your imagination will be intrigued. As this program falls in a niche of its own, it’s certainly not Attenborough and it’s not quite discovery channel, but it seems to be a heady cocktail of them both. With Hammond refreshingly doing something that is easy to watch and easy to understand, how long will this sudden bout of common sense last?

Gareth Tuckett

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