On the final stop of the Big Causeway Crawl in Northern Ireland, Matt Baker and Alex Jones reach the Giant's Causeway. They are joined by comedian David O'Doherty.
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Tonight our Causeway Crawl has come to a spectacular end.
We're literally walking in the footsteps of giants.
We have made it to the end of the road. What a finish it is.
It's a World Heritage Site alongside Machu Picchu and Victoria Falls.
We are surrounded by 40,000 interconnecting basalt columns that
have stood here for millions of years, famously laid down
I think I can hear our guest, David O'Doherty. There he is! Are you all
right, David? Oh! Yeah... Be careful. We are going to be talking
about your new book shortly which is aptly named Danger Is Everywhere.
Absolutely. It is extreme this place. Very extreme. We have this
fantastic photo of Al Mennie. Our first guest here. This is Al here.
You have pioneered many places to surf in this area. Lots of people
are put off because of the water temperature because it's so cold.
For you, it's actually one of the best places in the world. Yeah, it's
a little bit cold, colder than Cornwall or Devon, but we have great
waves here, winds are good here. Some of the biggest waves in the
world in the winter. It's really good. You are the only person are
you not to swim off this particular point. We get big waves here. How
big is big? 30 foot waves here. You managed to name that. I called it
after the giant, Finn McCool. It's incredible. Those shots are
incredible. On that theme of giants here is Ruth Goodman with a story of
why this place might be the land of the giants, literally.
It seems giants are everywhere in Northern Ireland. From the most
famous Causeway in the world named after the legendary giant Finn
McCool, to the iconic cranes of the shipyard. To the Belfast giants ice
hockey team. But giants are not confined to the legendary tales of
Irish mythology. Recent DNA research shows that Northern Ireland is a hot
spot for real-life giants. In 2013, DNA samples were taken from almost
1,000 volunteers in Mid Ulster. The results show that the people of this
area are 13 times more likely than elsewhere in the UK to carry a
genetic mutation that can lead to gigantism. To find out what effect
the gene can have, I am meeting with the author of the study. This gene
predisposes to develop a little lesion in a gland called the
pituitary gland, and this little tumour makes too much growth
hormone. If left untreated at an early age this tumour will lead to
gigantism, often causing a growth in height well in excess of 7ft. If you
are talking about a child having this disease, which is typical with
this particular mutation, then if the child is left untreated they may
grow to be a giant. Original ancestor, the one who started this
clan of giants lived about 100 generations ago. The people
descended from that one person still live here. Yes, that's amazing
social history. And carry this particular gene. Yes. And the
photographic evidence bear this is out. Giants all across the region.
With families passing down the gene from generation to generation.
And it continues to the present day. Brendan. Welcome, welcome to the
roaring hills, Ruth. I am meeting 6'10" Mid Ulster native Brendan
Holland. When I first noticed it I was around 16 years old, my brother
came home from England and he hadn't seen me for probably a few months
and he realised I had grown a bit. He was 6ft tall and he started
looking up at me. Brendan had already grown to almost 7ft by the
time he received radiotherapy treatment for the condition when he
was 20. How much would you say it has impacted on your life, in
general? There are positives and negatives. The negative being the
health aspect. I find in the last ten years my mobility is reduced. I
find it difficult to breathe. The positive has been at the age of 30 I
decided to go into business on my own. I found that standing out from
the crowd is a positive. When people meet you, they never forget you.
That might have something to do with my brilliant personality, but I
doubt that! But being noticed isn't everyone's cup of tea. This is
Brendan's cousin. When I was a teenager I looked at all my friends
and they were so petite, going to discos they would wear short skirts
and I would are to wear jeans. Is it difficult to get clothes Especially
shoes, I am size 13. People still look at me like children and all of
that, but you have to get used to it. How do you feel about this idea
that you are all descended from one single common ancestor? I think it's
brilliant that there is other people like me out there. I am not the only
person. Yet they could be amongst the last of the giants, with
advances in DNA testing and medication to manage the condition.
Which f left untreated, can lead to premature death. The number one
treatment is surgery. The surgeon goes in and tries to remove as much
as possible from the tumour. Medical treatment, in terms of tablets or
injections. And we can also give radiotherapy. So if you know it's
there, and you catch it early, you can sort it out? Yes, we could avoid
having giants and actually that is one of the one of the things of our
studies, no more giants. Both Niamh and Brendan have been successfully
treated for their gigantism and perhaps one day giants will only
ever be found within the great Irish myths.
Well, David O'Doherty has managed to get down safely.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING He is all right. It was touch and go
but he is all right. Welcome to the sofa. We also have Brendan with us,
nice to see you. Thank you for making that film. As we heard there,
thanks to medical research your condition can now be treated. If you
were born these days, would you like that as an option, looking back at
your life would you not have changed a thing? Well, it's not something
really that I have given a lot of thought to. But I suppose really in
an ideal world you would think like that but you have to play the hand
of cards that life deals you. Absolutely. You have to let your
condition be managed by you, not it manage you. Yeah. Brendan, I am sure
people sitting at home listening to you talking here and thinking about
that life you are talking about, what has been the trickiest part as
far as practical things are concerned, beds, cars, all of that
stuff. ? Yeah, those are surmountable problems. The trickiest
part is you grow older, you become less mobile and less sure-footed.
Moving around isn't as easy as it used to be. That's the biggest
probable I have right now. I have breathing problems, as well. It's
all part of the condition, if you like. It comes with the territory.
Thank you so much for making that film for us. No problem. You are
doing a gig around the coast. We heard there is a mix-up actually.
Tell us about that quickly. It's a rock Festival. I play a three-foot
plastic keyboard and I am playing on the main stage before Ash. Northern
Ireland's greatest ever... Yeah, a band in the last 20 years, I will
give it a go. I think those people may not be able to dance as much as
maybe they'll dance more to the bands. But, you know, it's fine.
Talking of you and the keyboard, we have a clip of you here. Here is
what the people of Limavady can expect.
This song is called Life. # Life, life.
# Life, life, life. # Life, lifey, life, life.
# Life, life, life. # Life...
# Oh, no, actually it's OK. # Oh, no, it's not. # No!
# And then you die. We are delighted that you have
brought the keyboard all the way to the Giant's Causeway. First time
live on the Giant's Causeway. I think it will be a great name for an
album actually. You have been here before on a school trip. Yeah, I was
here, our school trips were so boring. We once went to a butter
museum, those sort of school trips. I remember those well. What you
really want from a school - I like the fact it looks photoshopped.
People are watching this at home and they're going, it's probably like
Game of Thrones, they've drawn this in. This is actually here. I can
imagine Enya living here. Yes. And Enya lives behind that. To be fair,
it's a major technical feat doing a live broadcast right on the edge
here. Is the keyboard working, is it plugged in? There it is! The problem
with this keyboard is this, I came back from a tour in Australia, you
guys. I am on a - the baggage appears and I go to take it, I don't
realise this button has been disappeared and this sound is coming
from my baggage, it's a demo and I pick it up and I am walking and the
Australian border security are running after me. That's what Ash
will be having on before them tomorrow. As well as comedy, you are
also writing books for children. You are on your third. It's a strange
sort of double life. Yeah, it's a lot of fun. This is Danger Is
Everywhere. Yeah, Danger Is Everywhere, it's a guide book to
spotting danger wherever, awful things that only kids know about.
You know, when you are sitting on the loo and sometimes a shark can
come up underneath. It's something you have to be aware of, obviously
you grab the shampoo. If your teach certificate a vampire, these are
important things, you know how you tell that, obviously if they laugh
like this... Like a regular laugh is ha-ha. A vampire laugh. And then
normal farts. Are these observations you had when you were younger, what
was the inspiration behind this, David? I don't write them, my next
door neighbour is the world's leading dangerologist. He writes
them. It would be crazy if a 41-year-old man were to write a book
like that. So I help him. These are things he has observed. Technically
it's not me. Obviously, with your neighbour you have done a risk
assessment here because this is super dangerous. So much danger.
Look at it. It could not, I mean, all the coastal danger you have
there. Obviously, the threat of... Will this help? The illustrator
Chris has drawn this. Here is the main dangers today. Obviously the
threat of Vikings. Ireland has a bad history with Viking. Pirates
possibly, as well. And then shark attack, of course. Picked up by
seagulls, you could get 30 or 40 seagulls that could easily pick one
of us up. This is a volcano that created this, it's somewhere under
there. That could erupt at any moment. It's incredibly dangerous.
That was bad, sorry. I have undone all the danger talk that I... We
have another one here. This is the doctor here. Is is he the next door
neighbour? He is worried about sharks and puddles. It's a lot of
shark-based danger with Dr Noel. He looks back at history and sees
dangerous times, like jousting. Super dangerous. He sees Game of
Thrones as a documentary. That's the sort of world he is in. You have
taken the books to audiences, younger audiences. Yes. Are they a
tough crowd? I mean, I do gigs for grown-ups in the evenings and for
kids in the day. The toughest heckles, the two toughest heckles I
have had to deal with, both came from under-10s. One was a
seven-year-old and said what is the point of you? It's not the worst
heckle I have received. A six-year-old boy in a public library
in Athlone, he said, excuse me, does this get good soon? That's the
toughest heckle there has ever been, I think. It's a good job you are
wearing your waterproof now. Cover up the keyboard. Unplug it! Perfect.
Hopefully Angela and Joe will be here. Hopefully we will speak to
them in a second. That's if we can find them. There is a bit of
jeopardy. It looks like they've been driven to drink.
All week we have been travelling along the Causeway coastal route,
from Belfast to Carrickfergus. But now it was time for the final leg of
our journey, to the Giant's Causeway.
Have you seen Giant's Causeway before? Only as a kid a million
years ago. I can't wait to see it. It hasn't changed much. But Giant's
Causeway is like one of the biggest tourist attractions in Northern
Ireland. Also hard to wrap your head around the fact it's natural. No, it
was built by a giant I think you will find called Finn McCool. This
idea of it being natural I am not at home with. But you believe what you
want. I don't know if miss is the right
word. Oops. The steering is hardcore. I know. I know. I have to
say I've been very impressed by the way you handled it. Well, thank you.
With time ticking on and the road running out, there was time for one
last very welcome stop at Ireland's oldest working distillery. Triple
distilled malt whisky has been made in Bushmills for over 400 years.
With hundreds of thousands of whisky casks slowly maturing in the
warehouses, it is the job of Cooper, Alistair Kane to keep them in
tip-top condition. Alistair. I'm Joe. Nice to meet you. Hello,
Angela. This is incredible craft Mansship. How long have you been
doing this? 40 years. What's the job of a cooper You're replacing staves
or sometimes rehooping a barrel. The tools used his by his father and
grandfather have been passed down the line. That's a sharp edge on
that side and the face on it for hitting bungs and different things
on it and the head and knife is the one that's hanging on the wall. Some
places call it a draw knife and that's if you're doing staves, you
pull it and cut the wood off by hand. That's sharp. Oaks are the one
thing that they discovered is the best thing for whisky. It breathes
as well as holding the actual liquid in and plus the tannin that's in the
oak, it colours the whisky and the better condition the barrel is in,
the better the whisky. It's the quality you see. Can you smell it? I
can't smell it. Unfortunately the demand for these craftsmen is in
decline? When I started in here in the late 70s there was ten. For a
few years, I was the only one left. Alistair's son has just qualified.
The first cooper in Ireland for three decades. This is my son Chris.
How is it working with your dad? Not too bad! You're able to share a
drink at the end of the day. That's it. While we're still friends. Any
chance we can have a taste? I think we can work something out for you.
There is a waft of whisky coming from that barrel. There is only one
problem and there is only one glass and it's for you. That's not a
problem for me. More of an issue for me. You're driving. Fill it up. I
handed over the car keys to Joe the designated driver which turned out
to be a mistake. I didn't want to say in front of the lads, I didn't
want to burst your bubble, but I don't drive. You're joking. At all?
Some people are born to drive, others are born driven. How are we
going to get to the Giant's Causeway? Where we're going, we
don't need roads. Thank you for letting us
bring our sofas on to the Causeway. It is a charity, it is the kind of
thing. Angela and Joe have queries that they would like clarifying. Can
you give us a run down of why this place looks the way it does? It is
fascinating? Well, it was formed 60 million years ago and it is
something to do with the tectonic plates as they've moved. It formed
into the columns just as it cooled down. These have been forming for
millions and millions of years and they are what you see today. It is
one of those freaks of nature, hexagons and honey shells, it is the
most efficient use of space. As Matt said, you have got queries because
there is stories about this place. Some are true, some are not true.
Heather, you know it all. A cosmic question for you. Is it true that
there is a Giant's Causeway-style structure on Mars? It is, but I
don't think it has as many visitors as we do! Not yet! Is it true that
before the National Trust took this over, people used to take lumps of
the rock and leave them in their back garden? There are some columns
in different places all over the world. However, we believe it is bad
luck to do that. Yeah, we have stories of people who have taken a
bit of the column, taken it home, felt really guilty about it, and
realised that they have had a really bad luck for a number of time. And
they brought it back and their luck has improved from then. So do not
take any of the stones. That's bad luck, but good luck if you shimmy to
the right on one of these special stones. Is it true that's it's good
luck? Well, apparently so. If you sit, there is a special stone called
the wishing chair... Where it, Heather? It's over there. If you
were able to write and go three times, don't tell anybody what your
wish is then it will come true. We'll try that later! There is a
place you can put money over in the corner there which is our
alternative to a wishing well. But it has been going on for years.
People leave that and hopefully they will get good luck. That's going to
guarantee your wish. We're sitting on rock history. This place has a
bit of musical rock history namely zed Zeppelin. They used as the front
cover of their album and we have had some really interesting visitors
here. We had a group of girls from New Zealand who decided they would
re-enact the front cover. I don't know if you know it, but it has some
ladies in a state of undress! They came down here... That's brave in
this weather. Well, exactly. Came down and re-enacted and one of our
rangers doing safety checks said maybe you should cover up and sent
them back to the cafe and they went up there and came down and did it
all over again. That was the best day's work for that guy! Thank you,
Heather. Heather was telling us about the
honeycomb foundation and that's a clue to what our next film is all
about. Gatwick, the sickle busiest runway
in the world. Last year alone nearly 70,000 flights came through here.
Just one untracked flight could spell disaster. But for years that's
what has been happening. We discovered that there are hundreds
of unscheduled short haul flights. You must have one of the best radar
systems on the planet? Yeah, we do, but even it couldn't detect them. At
only 16 millimetres long no radar could detect the flight of a lorn
born bee, one of the rarest and most distinct insects in the country.
These were found here in a beautiful wild flower meadow a stone's throw
from the runway. Rachel Bicker, biodiversity consultant at Gatwick
was the first to come across them. How did she come to find this
elusive creature in an unusual habitat? I was walking along the
river and I saw one on its own and what on earth was that? I swept it
with my butterfly net and it was only afterwards I realised this is
something so different. That's the most distinctive... They really are.
Bee in Britain, isn't it? I think so. Male long horns don't have
stings and holding them briefly means that harm won't come to either
us or the bees. Look at it, it's gorgeous. Look at that face and the
an tenia is just massive. And that's a male, of course. That is a male.
Only the males have the long antennae. These unusual looking
creatures are one of the UK's largest solitary beesment unlike
honeybees, they spend most of their lives alone. The males usually
appear weeks before the females, but what do they do in this time? The
males will emerge around May and then a few weeks later after the
males have been flying around doing not a lot, it is about who hangs on
the longest and who sticks it out gets to mate with the females and
the females are emerging now. Early June we're starting to see the first
females. Why is it so rare now in the UK? Yes, so there is lots of
things which could be impacting, but the main one would be habitat loss.
So loss of their favourite food plants, but these plants are really
declining now so it's the habitat loss, the food loss and the nesting
sites that are really impacting the species. The bees manage to thrive
here however, thanks to the creation of this habitat back in 1999 when
the river was diverted and wild flower seed was sown in the area.
The clay that was dug up to divert the river was used to create
embankments which have turned out to be an excellent nesting spot for the
female bees as well. And this is where the female bees are now.
Although they're solitary bees they will nest together wherever there is
a good place to make a burrow and there is one right here. Here she
comes. Here she comes. And she is pushing the spoil out of the burrow
with her back legs and making this little pile. Ah, it's wonderful.
It's great to see her as she comes out backwards. Fantastic. Thanks to
these man-made embankments this landscape is a safe habitat for one
of Britain's rarest and most intriguing bees. As long as this
area remains undisturbed, these beautiful long horned bees should
continue to thrive under the radar for many years to come.
Thank you, George. We will be at the airport soon. Indeed.
All week we have been giving gifts to our guests. We've got a good one
tonight. See if you can guess what it is. It is from one David to
another. Here it is. The coastal slate provides me inspiration and
foundation for my pieces of art. The actual sculptures begin by cutting
strips from sheet metal. I weld the pieces together and arrange them
into their final shape. In order for it to look its best I have to polish
it to a perfect finish. And I fix it to a slate bottom. A piece from the
coast in more ways than one. Beautifully crafted by David
Rosborough. And here he is, thank you, David. Look at that, David.
It's like the episode of Blockbusters I never won!
LAUGHTER The golden run. Thanks, David. We
just need a little person at the top of it shouting, "Help. Help." To
mark the start of our programme. David, thank you for your company
tonight. And that's almost it. Thank you to everybody that has turned out
and all of our guests for the whole week. What a time we've had Al. We
have seen sun and brilliant scenery and these are our memories of our
week in Northern Ireland which we've thoroughly enjoyed. We have to say
to our new Northern Irish viewers, keep'er light!
Good night and goodbye. Carrickfergus castle. We will be
travelling 85 miles along the Causeway coast. Do you need three
new back-up singers? Martine ma kuchen. You can come out! You can
come out. Sorry. A poke is an ice cream. We have been on some road
trip, I tell you. Ballycastle... And that's where we're heading now. Full
steam ahead. Hang on. We're going north-west up to the seaside town of
Portrush. Well, he's not bothered. Sort it out. Earlier on in rehearsal
you were fully clothed, now this is a shock. We have some very special
guests. We are almost there.