In Search of Myths and Heroes

· culture ·

I always seem to do this, but I'm going to rave about a TV series that's about to finish. I've been really enjoying In Search of Myths and Heroes with Michael Wood, but somehow I kept forgetting to write about it. As the title suggests, Michael Wood undertakes various journeys to try to trace the truth behind some of the famous myths and stories from the ancient world. He's uncovered the story of the Queen of Sheba, and the historical links between Africa and the Middle East, he's tramped over treacherous mountain passes drinking yak butter tea in search of Shangi-La, and in the latest programme, he followed the route of the Argo to tell the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece.

Behind most myths there's a grain of truth, but even the embellishments say interesting things about human nature. The series is an ideal mix of interesting bits of history, stunning locations and the enthusiasm of Wood himself. I have to admit that when I was much younger, I had a slight crush on him. In fact, just about the only thing that would get me to watch history programmes in those days was the sight of his be-jeaned snake hips and stubbled face striding over a ruined wall somewhere. I've got over that now, but I still find him one of the most engaging presenters. He's not pompous or patronising, and his rampant enthusiasm for the subject is very infectious. In the latest programme, he was geeking out over an ancient ruined Greek palace (and actually speaking Greek to the archaeologist, mind you), and I found myself getting vicariously excited about it too, even though it really isn't my thing.