A two-hour BBC show featuring nothing more than a journey down a canal has proved an unlikely hit with viewers.
All Aboard! The Canal Trip was filmed in real time and contained no commentary, music or presenter and nothing more exciting than passing boats, changing scenery and the occasional passer-by in the distance walking along the towpath.
But half a million viewers were mesmerised by the experiment in slow TV – filmed with a camera strapped to the front of the barge – down one of Britain’s historic waterways, the Kennet and Avon Canal.
The show – in which the only sounds were birdsong, dogs barking, rippling water and the chugging of the engine – fetched 506,000 viewers and a peak of 599,000, above the BBC4 slot average of 340,000.
It was also deemed a success with viewers on Twitter.
Stephen Clark wrote: “Initially very sceptical about this All Aboard malarkey on BBC Four but this is surprisingly compelling… CYCLIST!”
John M wrote: “I put it on by mistake an hour and a half ago. It’s still on.”
Paul Waller joked: “BBC4 Canal trip. Still no sign of the upturned shopping trolley.”
Steve Edwards wrote: “All Aboard! The Canal Trip on at prime time against Champions League football – the work of a TV scheduling genius … it’s mesmerising!”
Susan Lomax wrote: “T hank you for All Aboard … I feel soooo relaxed … Can you do a daily programme?”
Andy Stewart wrote: ” Beguiling filmmaking. Heroic even.”
— robinsprouts (@robinsprouts) May 5, 2015
So hypnotic I fear I'm being primed for an alien abduction #AllAboard
— Danielle Carpanen (@Dani_Carpanen) May 5, 2015
— lucywaitt (@lucywaitt1) May 5, 2015
Tuesday night’s programme, which switched from colour to black and white, featured f acts about canals presented in text on the surface of the water.
The film was part of the BBC Four Goes Slow series, a selection of “unrushed programmes giving audiences the chance to sit back, unwind and watch some very unhurried television”.
Its executive producer Clare Paterson previously admitted that some people will “hate” the programme and find it “boring” but added that canals are “incredibly British and important to our history and landscape.”