Volcano Live and Kate’s Winnebago Moment

Yet more grim programming for the BBC. Volcano Live. How did this crazy idea ever reach fruition? I suffered ten minutes of Kate Humble and some professor competing in a breathless race to speak over each other and then run out of things to say.

On the surface, I liked the idea. Volcanoes are fascinating. Volcano Live was not. It took ten minutes for one terrible fact about Volcano Live to dawn on me. Oh please no. They couldn’t insult peoples’ intelligence any more. Oh yes they could. The BBC had actually wheeled a Winnebago to Hawaii, perched it ten miles from the crater of Kilauea, and they were actually waiting for it to erupt, preferably between 20:00 and 21:00 pm BST on July 9th 2012 on live TV. I just went to the website, and that really does seem to be the gist of it: “Ever wanted to know more about volcanoes or see one erupting? Well the BBC is finding out all about them in a series of special programmes from Hawaii. The show will feature volcanoes erupting.”

Phew! Apparently, they have live cameras everywhere, including Mexico, where a volcano, if it erupts during Volcano Live “could threaten Mexico City”. Gosh! “The scientists are keeping an extra careful watch on that one.” Are they, Katie? Why’s that? What would happen to Volcano Live if, heaven forbid, Mexico City was wiped out by sudden pyroclastic flow just before the credits rolled. “We’re staying with Kilauea. The scheduled edition of Antiques Roadshow will now be shown at a later date.”

Can they think up anything more stupid and insensitive? Why not Tsunami Live, or Earthquake Live? We might just catch millions of people swallowed by the earth or swept out to sea. Golly!

The two presenters were even sad and apologetic that they couldn’t walk right into Kilauea. Apparently they’re “not allowed near the lava lake because of toxic gases”. Damned Hawaiian Health and Safety ruining the BBC’s big moment in the Summer Schedules. In absence of Hawaiian Health and Safety, we could have seen right into the mouth of the volcano, maybe just as it unleashed the equivalent of three million tonnes of TNT. Wow! I’d double my licence fee for that. Instead, we had to make do with the insides of a Winnebago. Katie was dying to don a gas mask and a funny suit and brave the toxic gasses. If only we had volcanoes in the UK. The BBC would not be thwarted by those damned foreigners.