In today’s English listening practice, we talk about a popular TV mini-series called Chernobyl . It’s a story about true bravery in the face of impossible odds. Although the BBC didn't made the series, it’s really good, so if you like what you hear in today’s English lesson it might be worth checking out.
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⭐ Thomas Fuller
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Hi there and welcome to this short podcast from Adept English.
In Monday’s podcast I was talking about the BBC and its place in the UK. One of the things that you might know the BBC for is its mini-series. A series is what you find on Netflix. And long series can take several months to watch, so they’re quite a time commitment. And one of the questions people ask each other in conversation sometimes is ‘What series are you watching?’
BBC miniseries include things like Pride and Prejudice, Doctor Foster, The Night Manager, Line of Duty, Torchwood or Life on Mars. All great things to watch, in English if your level is good enough. Watching it with subtitles in your language is good practice too!
But one of the stand-out series that people in the UK and around the world watched last year was not made by the BBC. The series Chernobyl was made by HBO and Sky TV. HBO – Home Box Office - is a US company that makes lots of famous TV series. And Sky TV is another UK broadcasting company. The Chernobyl series was available on HBO – and on Now TV in the UK. It’s also available on Amazon Prime, but I think you have to pay extra there.
Chernobyl, the series was a dramatisation of course, of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986 and the events and characters surrounding it. Apart from being a good drama series, I really enjoyed its portrayal of the 1980s – very brown, utilitarian and ‘no frills’ as we say, but also its stories of the human cost of the tragedy.
Particularly the stories of the residents of Pripyat and the high price that they paid. Also it’s quite political and tells the story of the people who fought to represent the truth about the disaster and all that led to it. But perhaps most importantly, this series brought what happened in Chernobyl in 1986 to the attention of a whole new generation.
I’m old enough to remember it – I remember being told ‘Don’t go out unless you have to and take frequent showers’ because of the nuclear fallout - and that was just in the UK! But my daughters knew next to nothing about the history of Chernobyl and were quite shocked when they watched the programme – just how close we came to an even bigger nuclear disaster. In the Chernobyl explosion, radiation 400 times that in Hiroshima was released.
Another way in which Chernobyl did previously come to my daughters’ attention was when we visited the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2016. That is an annual art exhibition in London that we don’t usually miss. Needless to say, it wasn’t on in 2020! But in the 2016 exhibition, photographs of the insides of buildings in Chernobyl were displayed in the Royal Academy.
The buildings were photographed just as the explosion left them. And it brought home the human cost of the disaster. They were haunting images. ‘Haunting’, H-A-U-N-T-I-N-G in this context means that the images stay with you, give you unease, disquiet – and you think about them afterwards.
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Nowadays, you can tour the area of Ukraine which was previously the no-go zone, due to radiation. Radiation, R-A-D-I-A-T-I-O-N is what’s left after a nuclear explosion - you count it with a geiger counter or a dosimeter on your person. The zone, or at least touring the zone for a couple of days is relatively safe – as long as you don’t touch anything or sit on the ground.
You mustn’t eat when you go there and so you can only visit with a guide, for safety reasons. But I imagine it’s a thought-provoking trip and certainly an eerie place to go. Tours start from the town of Chernobyl, which is still almost entirely deserted. This is on my list of places I would like to visit. So perhaps a little bit like visiting Auschwitz – not a comfortable place to go, but an important experience.
One of the things which feels really positive and surprising perhaps, is how nature is regenerating in the Chernobyl area, in the no-go zone. Initially after the disaster, the natural environment around Chernobyl was of course badly affected by radiation and many animals died. Trees in the area turned red and eventually had to be removed because of radiation. But 34 years on, animals are thriving in the area – and the zone represents a big experiment in ‘rewilding’.
Thoughts About Chernobyl Miniseries While We Do Some English Listening Practice Ep 359 Article Image
A photograph of a Chernobyl being reclaimed by nature, part of this English listening practice lesson.
‘Rewilding’ comes from the word ‘wild’, W-I-L-D. And if you ‘rewild’ an area, you allow it to go back to how it was, without….how it would be, without human intervention. So wolves, bears, moose, deer, wild boar, foxes and even wild horses have all returned to colonise the area and they’re increasing in number. As a visitor, you’re discouraged from going near them, but although there are some genetic changes in the animals, due to the radiation, most of the them are doing very well.
Also present in the area are many dogs, who are apparently the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the pet dogs which were abandoned by residents after the disaster. These dogs and puppies are now being tested and if sufficiently clear of radiation, they can be adopted and find loving homes.
What a nice thought! If you watch the Chernobyl miniseries, it’s not just the human tragedy which is brought home to you. It’s the cost to pets and animals that’s heartbreaking too – so this is a nice thing to know about.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.