Remote Control - Saturday 18 January 2014

Icebound: The Greatest Dog Story Ever Told ' note the telegram only mentions the desperate plea to save 'white natives'
Icebound: The Greatest Dog Story Ever Told ' note the telegram only mentions the desperate plea to save 'white natives'
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Beeb-lzebub? No, just a great institution...

Always judge people who criticise the BBC.

Form immediate conclusions.

Don’t have them as friends.

It’s a force for good and offers better than anything found on the satellite dark corners.

And this week it delivered not one, not two but three knockout blows to its detractors.

Wild Brazil (BBC 2, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 9pm), Nature’s Weirdest Events (BBC 2, 7pm Tuesday) Icebound: The Greatest Dog Story Ever Told (BBC 4, 9pm Monday).

Absolutely wonderful shows, one and all.

Wild Brazil was stunning.

Filmed in the wetlands of the Pantanal, it highlighted capuchin monkeys trying to steel some rodent from a snake’s jaws, once they’d realised they weren’t its target for tea.

Then a baby giant otter’s swimming lesson being interupted by a stalking jaguar, who is then ‘frightened’ off by a show of strength.

This was pure drama, beautifully shot and illuminating.

And there’s people out there discussing Hayley’s impending suicide!

Next up, Chris Packham enthusiastically told us about crows that demonstrate deferred gratification greater than the under fives.

While your toddler eats a marshmallow when promised he/she can have two if they wait 15 minutes.

And here they were in Tel Aviv, far-from-bird-brained members of the crovus using breadcrumbs as bait to catch fish.

Then, to top the lot, a documentary about an adventure that has become known as ‘the greatest dog story ever told’.

On January 28, 1925, a desperate telegram broke a terrifying story – diphtheria had broken out in Nome, Alaska, a city separated from the rest of the world for seven months by a frozen ocean.

There was only one way to reach the town with the serum was by dogsled and the newspapers of the world lapped it up – and sexed it up.

The graphic of headlines across the States was tremendously illustrating – highlighting that “whites were affected”.

What followed was an insight into the media, race relations, survival and dastardly doings.

Take Gunnar Kaasen, the man declared a hero for completing the final leg.

Only he wasn’t meant to have done, leaving the intended poor musher asleep to steal the glory, not forgetting the movie offers.

Then there’s Balto, whose stuffed remains are in a museum while he’s all bronzed up as a statue in New York’s Central Park.

Only the longest and most hazardous stretch was led by a husky called Togo.

And Balto was a bit daft, and only co-led his leg – his place in history assured because the other hound was called Fox and the storytellers didn’t want any confusion.

The death toll is officially listed about seven but it was later estimated there were probably at least 100 additional cases among “the Eskimo camps outside the city”. The BBC – the whole truth and nothing but the truth, however uncomfortable.

Alan Burrows