Best TV Documentary 2010

Mastermind  - Champion of Champions
Mastermind – Champion of Champions – BBC
Nail-biting from beginning to end. This was the finale to a week of knockout competitions between former winners of the Mastermind prize. The result could not have been closer – two titantic tied scores decided by number of passes – and when the winner was asked how he knew so much his reply was gold:
I am interested in a large number of subjects so I read a lot.‘ ahhhhhh

Around the World by Zeppelin
Around the World by Zeppelin – BBC
Wonderful hour long piece detailing the first round-the-world journey by airship (or any other ship for that matter) using only the diaries and correspondence of on-board journalist Grace Drummond-Hay and accompanied exclusively by archival footage of the flight. Superb from beginning to end.

The Box that Changed the World
The Box that Changed the World – BBC
A documentary about Containerisation? Surely enough to induce somnolence in even the most wide awake. On the contrary dear reader – this story of the humble container is the history of the last half century in microcosm: globalisation, urbanisation, the decline of trade unions and the rise of Asian exporting powers all affected by this simple corrugated steel box.

The Estate We're in
The Estate We’re in – BBC
Absolutely riveting five parter following the mild mannered but formidable Silla Carron as she turned a depressed and decrepit Bristol sink estate into a thriving and jiving community hub. Why the Beeb chose to show this at 9:15 am and then not repeat it on iPlayer is a mystery: if this woman were running the country we’d be back on our feet in no time.

Five Days that changed Britain
Five Days that changed Britain – BBC
Succint and incisive account of the back room deals that followed Britain’s 2010 election and led to the present coalition government. Excellent investigative journalism combined with a spectrum of fantastically candid interviews created a minute-by-minute breakdown of how the deal was done. It also delivered final proof, to anyone who doubted it, as to what a bitter scumbag Ed Balls is.

Nixon in the Den
Nixon in the Den – BBC
Hooray David Reynolds is back on TV. Even with a subject matter raked over as ad nauseum as the Nixon Presidency, Reynolds delivered real insight, historical parallels and even some layman’s psychiatric analysis to produce quite a sympathetic portrait of the main man.

Women, Weddings, War & Me
Women, Weddings, War & Me – BBC
Once again the BBC plucks an unknown presenter out of its hat and scores a bullseye. I could have done without the twee commentary but I suppose that’s what you have to put up with when you watch BBC Three. Still this managed to be informative and emotional without being saccharine. Bravo.

Dear Zachary
Your Father’s Murderer: A Letter to Zachary – MSNBC
This was possibly the most gut-wrenching 90 minutes of drama this year. If you’ve seen this then you know what I mean when I say even the most deranged drama has nothing on these real events and if you ain’t seen it yet – get to it.