While major highways make traveling across the country, any country, a lot faster, than it otherwise would be. Of course, things are lost along the way. Small towns that used to attract numerous tourists on their way from one place to another start to disappear. Superhighways make travel so much faster that the small towns people used to stay in overnight to break up a trip aren't needed as a rest stop anymore. There's something a little sad and distressing about this, it's a sign that there is good and bad that goes with every change.
Okay, so the above is a lesson we learned watching Pixar's Cars, which lamented the loss in popularity of Route 66 here in the United States. It's also something Robbie Coltrane tries to show us about Britain in the about to be released on DVD television series, Robbie Coltrane: Incredible Britain.
In this country Coltrane is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, however he has taken his share of leading parts as well. He played the lead in the British series Cracker and starred opposite Eric Idle in Nuns on the Run.
Over the course of three, almost hour-long, episodes of this series, Coltrane takes an incredibly circuitous route from London to his hometown of Glasgow, taking the "B roads" instead of the major highways. Along his way, Coltrane watches (and often participates in) local oddities. He does everything from cheat on a cooking contest, watch a rugby match played with a beer keg, and pop a wheelie in a fire truck.
Coltrane drives from town to town in a classic, convertible Jaguar roadster, amused, bemused, and bewildered at what his fellow countrymen are up to. He never seems to spend too long with anyone, he just sort of hops from one thing to the next, staying in towns long enough for people to explain themselves and what it is that they do.
While the people he meets are, usually, funny and interesting, it is Coltrane who is quite clearly the star of the show. By participating in many of the various events he sees (including to help blast rocks) and narrating everything along the way, the story remains, squarely, his. As Coltrane is such a terribly funny individual, with a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor, each of the three episodes are a pleasure to watch. Even though the story is his, Coltrane never overshadows nor overpowers those he meets. He is simply there, informing, and being funny.