City limits

Recently, I’ve been trying to watch more educational television alongside all the more sensational Netflix stuff or traditional half-hour comedies. This desire has meant checking out a lot of BBC Four and BBC Two, and I really enjoyed the four-part factual show on the latter: World’s Busiest Cities.

Presented by Anita Rani, Dan Snow and Ade Adepitan, the show delved into what makes four very different cities across the globe tick. After the first episode, I was a bit confused about what the aim of the programme was – it felt a bit like a random selection of insights into a city that didn’t necessarily tie together. However, after watching more episode, I realised that the randomness of it actually was the point. These cities are huge and sprawling and you never know what you’re going to find around the next corner.

Particular highlights for me included the ever-increasing Mexico City where people just rock up to a patch of land and start building, the fact that almost every city seems to have some tunnelling work going on (so Elon Musk’s aim for a super-quick boring machine will appeal to many!) and the madness of a Russian commute that takes more than two hours each way every single day to cover a very short stretch of ground.

The three presenters offer unique and differing ideas too, with Anita focusing on the people and culture, Dan quite naturally seeing how history is brought into the present, and Ade learning how the city works, rests and plays.

If you’ve got access to the iPlayer or fancy snapping up the programme on iTunes, I can highly recommend it, and I hope there are four more cities in the pipeline for a second series soon.