Best TV Documentary 2009

Iran and the West
Iran and the West – BBC
Excellently paced and thorughly informative three parter tracing the relationship Iran has had with the West over the last century. Features the last interview (of any worth) given by Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.

How Vietnam Was Lost
How Vietnam Was Lost – BBC
A disasterous October 1967 ambush that almost wiped out a US Battalion in Vietnam and a concommitant protest at the University of Wisconsin are cut back and forth to, pinpointing the moment the war in Indochina was lost.

Churchill's Darkest Decision
Churchill’s Darkest Decision – Channel 4
An investigation into Churchill’s order to scupper the french fleet at Mers-el-Kebir lest it fall into German hands. Mass murder? A strategic triumph? This showed that shame and anger around this incident still persists 60 years later.

Crude Britannia
Crude Britannia – BBC
Who every thought James Bolam would make such a great narrator? Three hours glide by as he guides us effortlessly through the story of North Sea Oil from tentative exploration in the late ’60s to the gushing pipelines today.

Whale Wars
Whale Wars – Discovery
This year’s most unintentionally hilarious program. The management tactics and general pigheadedness of the anti-whaling Sea Shepherds had me often rooting for the Japanese.

Warriors with Terry Schappert
Warriors with Terry Schappert – History
This could, in the hands of someone less enthralling, have turned into the usual glorification of fighting and thuggery channels like History revel in. Happily Schappert is genuinely in awe of his subjects and unusually humble as a host. Cannot wait for a second series.