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DOWN TO EARTH

Although Kit Pedler had cut his ties with Doomwatch following Fire And Brimstone, the good Doctor's work could still be seen on BBC1 as a contributor and writer to another series – Down To Earth. And the series was being transmitted as Doomwatch was taking its final bows.

The programme had been announced back in April inside the pages of The Daily Express as being a new weekly 'Doomwatch' programme, planned to begin on Wednesday evenings from May 17th. This was the first TV current affairs series devoted entirely to the subject of pollution. 'It will deal with subjects affecting the environment from slum clearances and motorways to plastic milk bottles, oil on the beaches and dangers to wild life.' The producer was to be John Percival. 'I want to show how the environment affects all of us – in our jobs, in our homes and our leisure time.' Its presenter was Kenneth Allsop, a seasoned interviewer on the BBC's nightly 24 Hours programme which was being axed in two months time as part of a BBC shake up. Kit Pedler's involvement, however, was quite unique. As the Daily Mirror commented during the ten week run on the 21st of June: 'He is supplying ideas for those sardonic take offs of TV commercials... There's another batch tonight between items ranging from river pollution to Environment Minister Peter Walker discussing the recent Stockholm conference on the problems of Spaceship Earth.' The 11th of June Observer review by Mary Holland said: 'The bonus was some real wit in the acidly correct parodies of commercials to be seen on the rival channel. The best was a seductively photographed send up of Coca Cola's peace and love commercial, done to a background of a clattering rubble of empty coke cans. These were written by Dr. Kit Pedler to whom I award a small posy of organically grown wild flowers for his attack during the week on the series which he originated. Doomwatch (BBC-1). I'd intended to write about last week's episode, lamenting the trivialising of a series which was originally exciting and intelligent. In the event, Dr. Pedler said it all: 'Just a spy thriller. Absolutely awful, a mad scientist going amok yet again.' Her review came during a period centering around the Stockholm United Nations Conference and there were a number of programmes devoted to the subject. Ecological overkill, she called it. Holland's problem was that what is usually lacking is any 'concrete analysis of who pollutes and plunders who natural resources and why.' As for Down To Earth, her review of the first episode asked for either more exposure journalism naming who the polluters were or for more information on how people can organise to resist environmental threats. This latest edition pleased her as they gave her both answers. One story featured how a new road was built in Snowdonia National Park just to film a Milk Tray advert, and a 'nasty' tale about jars of pickled song birds and the Home Office's 'hypocrisy on the subject.' Producer John Percival was delighted that this particular item generated 600 letters to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

With thanks to Michael Seely

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