23 July, 2008

Preview: "Burn Up"

Wednesday 23 & Friday 25 July 2008, 9pm, BBC Two

"There isn't a more important issue in the world than global warming. Even the Cold War and the Bay of Pigs crisis were a notional threat. A warming planet isn't just a threat – it's happening. The idea of concealing the potentially indigestible politics of climate change in the 'Trojan horse' of a thriller seemed a good way to engage an audience. Whether it works, we're about to find out..." Simon Beaufoy, writer of Burn Up.

Press Pack
Official site

Simon Beaufoy interview 1
Simon Beaufoy interview 2


""Carbon dioxide is a direct by-product of burning oil," Tom McConnell, the hero of this topical eco-thriller, informs a US congressional hearing. Did you know that? I think you probably did; and so, I'd guess, would most members of Congress. But in the course of this two-part story (concludes Friday), the characters spend their waking hours telling other people things they'd already know unless they were idiots. So: "Be careful, $13 billion profits bring with them enormous power," warns oil boss Mark Foxbay as he hands over the reins at Arrow Oil to son-in-law Tom (Rupert Penry-Jones). Now, Tom knows what profits they make and the power he'll have; the line's just there to impress us.

After a while, you realise the whole story works like this, with characters hectoring one another about rising sea levels, melting ice and solar power until we get the message. It's one big, green lecture, thinly disguised as drama. Luckily, the drama it's disguised as has sharp scenes and an engaging supporting cast, notably Marc Warren (as a shadowy goodie) and Bradley Whitford (as a shadowy baddie). And no-one would deny that the message, however thickly laid on, does matter. "

David Butcher, Radio Times


For those of us going for serials and not series for the Red Planet Prize then this would be worth catching. It's a big story and about something the author cares a lot about. Are our own serials like that?

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