Being a fanatic of the Underground, I have of course been watching the recent BBC documentary series The Tube. You should too. It’s great.
But this is not, oddly, a post about how awesome the tube is - I’m here to extol the virtues of the well-made documentary, a dying breed in the world of mission-docs, edu-tainment and reality tv. There’s something… nice about ‘The Tube’. Whether it’s meeting the cleaner who used to be a professional cyclist, the man who changes the lightbulbs in signals, or seeing the dozens of passed-out revellers waking up bleary-eyed at the end of the Northern Line, it finds modest beauty in the small stories of ordinary people and everyday things. It doesn’t poke fun at its subjects, it doesn’t tell you what to think, and it doesn’t try and construct a story for you to digest. I’m a huge fan of storytelling, but there’s a simple glory to pointing a camera at something and showing it to you. ‘Hey. Look at that: isn’t it interesting?’
Like the best design, cleaner and simpler documentaries tend to be better documentaries. The Tube is one of them. Take a look.