Expedition: Africa

I watched the History Channel’s ‘Expedition: Africa’ last night, a retake on Stanley’s expedition to find Livingstone. It is quite enjoyable if a bit ‘light’, the interest certainly coming from the internal politics of the expedition team rather than the nature of the journey itself. One thing did strike me, one of their challenges is billed as ‘using only compasses and basic maps’, which could only be billed as a challenge in the age of satellite navigation. Even this seemed to rob the team of some of their awareness of their surroundings. Pasquale Scaturro, the navigator, takes a compass bearing and then navigates from ‘tree to tree’ despite numerous clues in the sky and ground to help him hold a course. To be fair Benedict Allen does point out that the river would give a line to follow, but Pasquale does not seem to want the river to get between him and the compass. It is all the more surprising since Pasquale is a geophysicist and very experienced expedition leader. It is entertaining, but as I said, more for the dynamics between the dry Allen, the perceptive and vocal Mireya Mayor and the mildly insecure Scaturro. The production team did very well to source those who fitted the bill, ostensibly for the relevance of their CVs, but actually because none of them are the sort who like to play second fiddle.