The BBC is currently airing a documentary series on English Heritage, a historic preservation (termed “conservation” in the UK) governmental advisory commission. It’s a rare opportunity to get an inside look at how our British brethren face the day-to-day challenges of preservation, including the ongoing debate about brutalism. Unfortunely, the Guardian claims that this “grimly funny series,” also called “English Heritage,” reinforces stereotypes about elitist preservationists. You can decide for yourself by watching the show online. Currently the show is only viewable online by those within the UK, but English Heritage has established a webpage to cast light on the issues raised in the program.
The very nature of preservation often has us on the defense, fighting to be heard by developers, city councils, and sometimes the public at large. But we run the risk of taking ourselves too seriously. A TV series exposing the process of preservation, warts and all, can still raise the profile of the overall issue of the importance of place and preserving our built heritage, pushing the dialogue forward. And that’s a good thing.