Andrew Marr’s Megacities Review: Marred By Urbanization

ANDREW MARR’S MEGACITIES: Thursday 2nd June, BBC1, 8pm

Andrew Marr once again branches away from politics to embark on a new series exploring the world’s most populated urban areas, twenty one of which can now be described as ‘megacities’, with each comprising of more than 10 million inhabitants.

The presenter, famed for his gesticulative interview technique, travels the globe highlighting the fact that by the end of the century 75 per cent of the planet will be urbanised. This changing culture meaning that for the first time in human history, more people now live in cities than the countryside.

While that’s certainly food for thought for the Countryside Alliance, Marr trots around five of the most intense, noisy places in the world in this first episode to provide us a glimpse of what the future may hold. From the fast growing Bangladeshi capital Dhaka with it’s poverty and chaos, to the world’s biggest megacity Tokyo, with a population of 33 million. Marr gives the viewer a brisk explanation of how cities have adapted to cope with an explosion of inhabitants, also visiting Shanghai, Mexico city, and London (surprisingly Europe’s only megacity) with a comparably small population of 13 million.

Despite the recent negative press about Marr and his infidelity and subsequent super-injunction which apparently postponed the airing of the series, it’s hard to dislike the political commentator when he’s on form and explaining things to viewers so eloquently. Despite having a face that makes him look like Mr Bean, so much so in fact that locals in a Bangladeshi slum thought he was Rowan Atkinson’s character, there’s a certain charm to the man that’s hard to pin down.

The programme is interesting if light on facts in some parts, but in some ways reminds me of a travel show, perhaps the best description is Sky1’s An Idiot Abroad but more serious and factual. Watching Marr squirm whilst staying overnight in a slum is certainly quite amusing, and it’s fascinating to see the apartments in Tokyo with customised glass corridors offering zero privacy.