A lot more interesting and accessible than the subject matter would suggest
As part of BBC4's season of films about Edwardian life, Ian Hislop looks back at a time when the boys in British society were of a concern with some believing that the lack of direction for them would soon lean to the breakdown of morals across the country within a few generations. At this time one man wrote a book that was one of the best sellers of its time and started a national movement Robert Baden-Powell.
I watched this film on the same day that the newspapers were full of a certain smugness while revealing the massive cost per viewer of BBC3 and BBC4 compared to not only the main terrestrial channels but also competing digital channels that bring in the same viewers at a third of the cost. While I cannot possibly defend the collection of terrible rubbish that is BBC3, there are countless interesting and informative documentaries that have been on BBC4, few of which would ever be expected to draw a massive audience. Ian Hislop's Scouting for Boys is one such example hardly a subject that would have Corrie or Eastenders shaking in their ratings but one that the film brings alive really well.
The focus is on Baden-Powell himself and starts by looking at the society that Baden-Powell's book arrived into. After charting the success of the serialised book, we get a background to Baden-Powell which reviews his tactics within the Boer War and his standing on his return. It is interesting but it generally avoids gushing and indeed even gets into the difficult issue of how it looks to have an elderly gentleman with an interest in boys. Hislop has never been a scout but he has enthusiasm and interest in the subject, bringing the subject alive with his presentation and the good interactions with those he interviews.
Overall then this is a film that suggests that it will have a very limited appeal but, like many of the better BBC4 documentaries, it makes it interesting and accessible to a wider audience.
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