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 UK - "Empire of the Seas" 
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Post UK - "Empire of the Seas"



I watched the first episode; is anyone else watching it, too?

Information here.



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Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:51 am
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Oh yes, after one episode it has become essential viewing. There is the usual licence deployed in some of the re-enactment scenes, but that is more than outweighed by truly spectacular photography. Particularly liked the piece on the Dutch ship under construction.

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Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:06 am
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We agree: it was a well balanced programme and well photographed. It augers well for the rest of this short series. We have had reservations about Dan Snow's military history presentations in the past. He has sometimes relied too heavily on computer-graphics, but not this time.

Martin (and Janet)


Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:57 am
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The only problem I have with Dan Snow is that he wanders off - literally.

After a brief talk to camera he frequently walks away, often right out of shot. I'm sure it is usual presenter technique, but it does rather give the impression he has better things to do!

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Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:27 pm
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Post "1066, Empire of the Seas and All That"
Sorrty to break ranks, but I am afraid that I was unimpressed with the first episode of 'Empire of the Seas'. It was simplistic in its approach and, although it attempted to gain historical credibilty via no-doubt expensive shots of Snow in TNA, Cadiz, Upnor Castle, pulling ropes on a sailing ship etc, it in fact said nothing that could not have not have been found in the pages of my fourth form history text book.

I was also uneasy about the dominance of 'Peter Snow's historian son, Dan' (as he used to be called). Most documentaries of this kind are laced with comments from real experts like Nicholas Rodger and Andrew Lambert who, in one line, manage to convey as much as can be found in a page of text. Instead, the whole show was dominated by Dan Snow excitedly revealing what seemed to be new to him but is well known to anyone with any interest in the subject.

On the other had, any television program that attempts to make people excited and interested in our naval history is to be welcomed - even if its contents are poor compared with the many excellent documentaries which accompanied and followed the Trafalgar anniversary. Likewise a program like this can only be judged in terms of its own objectives. It these were - as one suspects - to inform the uninformed and enthuse school children: then I expect and hope that it will be a success.

The next episode, which promises to follow modern thinking in showing the 18thC navy and its infrastructure to be an advanced industrial enterprise as well as a formidable fighting machine, promises to be more satisfying. Let us hope it will be.

Brian


Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:41 pm
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I'm not sure about school children or the uninformed; I would not put myself into either category, nor anyone else who subscribes to this forum. Certainly Dan Snow is a presenter, rather than a historian, and any programme that attempts to squeeze two hundred years of history into one hour is bound to take a wide angle view.

But I would maintain that such an approach can be as interesting as close examination of a particular aspect or incident. I didn't learn anything from the programme, neither did I expect to; I feel the producers were attempting to take a step back, and their treatment certainly put historical events into perspective.

Yes, there could have been less of “Wandering Dan” (I did wonder what use he was going to be as part of the OPV's boarding party), and true experts are always welcome, although their presence would inevitably mean greater detail, and a shorter period covered.

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Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:15 pm
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I think that is my point Badger - that members of this Forum are not the target audience and it is therefore difficult to assess the success the program will have in achieving its objectives.

Perhaps I should have balanced my criticisms of the program's simplicity with congratulations for its being broadly accurate.

I also hasten to ressure that I have no prejudice against the uninformed: many of my best friends fall into this category are I am in fact pretty uniformed on many things myself!

Brian


Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:42 pm
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I enjoyed the second programme as much as the first, and it was interesting to note that the modern RN feed - according to a PO on HMS Daring - their personnel for £2.31 a day, per person.

I realise I should get my books out and seek out the information for myself, but does anyone know what would have been the equivalent in, say, Nelson's time?


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Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:44 am
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Mil,

Naval food in Nelson's time was based upon a fixed scale of rations and not a per capita daily cash figure; so I have seen no figure to equate to the £2.31 pd quoted for HMS Daring.

However a rough figure can be worked out. Eg in 1797, the Victualling Board advised the Admiralty that £2,758,264 would be needed to feed 110,000 in the following year. Divide this amount by 110,000 then divide that by 364 days in the year and the answer is a daily expenditure of 6.9 pence per man.

Or is it 69p per man?

Help!

Brian


Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:55 pm
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I calculate your figures to be equivalent to 6.87 decimal pence per man per day, or 1 shilling 4 pence halfpenny in old money.

Applying the cost-of-living calculator available at the National Archives this would be approximately equivalent to £2.14 in modern sterling currency. Pretty close!

Does anyone know the figures for the fixed allowances for providing food to institutions, such as schools or prisons?

Martin


Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:33 pm
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The UK National Audit Office website gives the following information about expenditure on food in UK prisons:



Expenditure on food is determined by each prison governor who sets the budget in terms of a daily food allowance per prisoner. The average daily food allowance for prisoners is 1.87, but there are wide variations ranging from 1.20 at an open prison to 3.41 at a young offenders institution. Variations between different types of prison can be partly explained. Young offenders institutions, for example, have some of the highest daily food allowances because growing juveniles tend to eat more than adults and they receive extra money for food from the Youth Justice Board. Open prisons tend to have lower daily food allowances because some prisoners eat some meals outside the prisons. Variations between the same types of prisons are due to a number of factors including some governors choosing to give food a higher priority than others or differences in the quality and range of foods purchased. Compared with the cost of other public sector organisations, the Prison Service lies in the middle of the range. The Scottish Prison Service, for example, spends 1.57 on its daily food allowance but hospitals spend up to an average of 2.50 per consumer.


Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:16 pm
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Ref the cost of feeding the navy thanks for solving that one; £2.14 eh! ... as you said, Martin, "pretty close".

Thanks, again ....


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Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:18 am
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There is just one more part to be shown in the BBC television series Empire of the Seas, presented by Dan Snow. Those who live beyond the reach of the BBC transmitters can view it on their computers by going to BBC iPlayer where all three of the earlier parts are still available (for a while) and can be downloaded for viewing later.

There have been some critical comments on this forum. I had not appreciated how many BBC viewers had pounced upon fundamental errors in this series. The viewers' comments can be seen (and added to) at the Points of View message board. Unfortunately, this message board is not usually scanned for feedback by the BBC producers, who may be smugly unaware of how critical some informed viewers have been.

Regrettably, the message is the old one: don't expect to learn accurate history from television, Hollywood or the theatre! These programmes are produced primarily for entertainment, and pedantry is actively discouraged. One would think that nevertheless the producers could double-check to avoid actual misinformation.

Martin


Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:45 pm
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Unfortunately, the BBC iPlayer doesn't work for people in the U.S. :( I don't know about elsewhere.

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Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:51 pm
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Martin Evans wrote:
One would think that nevertheless the producers could double-check to avoid actual misinformation.

Martin


Yes, I'm sure I wasn't alone in cringing, especially when "Jarvis" (St Vincent) was mentioned. And they missed a few good points which could have been made without effort, like the reason why water was added to the rum.

It is a shame BBC I player isn't available worldwide.

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Fri Feb 05, 2010 8:26 am
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