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16 January 2007 (UK)  »

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An amusing and interesting if superficial documentary
17 February 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

As if the last two years of the Ashes hasn't shown it (England won then Australia took them back with the biggest whitewash for decades) this documentary looks at the rather strained cultural relationship between Australia and England. With a brisk and potted history that starts with the mass migration of English people to Australia through to modern political tensions and of course the Ashes and all that entails.

By taking such a brisk approach the film never really gets to grip with the seriousness of the subject and instead chooses to play it with the tongue in cheek. In some ways this is a shame and it does make some of the aspects (eg the WWI stuff) seem out of place and a bit jarring but mostly it does work reasonably well. I suppose the reason for this is that the tensions between the two countries has always had an element of wicked fun about it because there is a connection unlike the relationship between some countries and England (hell, most of their soap-stars seem refuge from unemployment by coming over here – a subject the film itself is aware of). Those looking for depth and real insight will be disappointed but, to be honest, the animated chapter headings featuring a John Bull and a kangaroo should have been a clue that this would be the case! For what it is then it is amusing and interesting even if it is a lot more superficial than I would have expected from a BBC4 documentary (not so much "everybody needs a place to think" here). Engaging fare then with a bit of a humorous swagger but nothing that will stick in the mind that long or be of any particular lasting value.

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