Even cruise fanatics might be amazed to learn that the city of Kirkwall, in the Orkney Islands, is the cruise ship capital of the United Kingdom. This unlikely fact was that the impulse for Orkney: After the Boat Comes In (BBC One), which gave us a glimpse of what it’s like for Orcadians to have, as a single area radio presenter put it, “that the croose liners goin’ in an’ ooot such as Jimmy Shand’s accordion”.
What that means in practice is a standard churn of boats that are enormous — 140 final season — coming and disgorging up of 4,500 passengers and crew at a moment. The city’s population can double for a couple hours, before decreasing in the evening. All these people places to spend their cash because they while away the hours in the funds of Orkney, and need to be bussed to and from their boats. Therefore that it was boom time for a few, and the stores and roads did seem very smart for such a small, out-of-the-way location.
Instead, it put a smile on some faces, like Michael Morrison of the Harbour Authority who, whatever the weather (and with this evidence that it was usually moist), might be located in the bottom of the gangway providing each visitor a hearty greeting. As the tourists swarmed around their merchandise, the knitwear and jewelry designers appeared happy also. It had been bonanza time for local charity shops as crew members scooped up body warmers and handbags.
But maybe not everyone was happy. There were understandable complaints about the nature of Kirkwall altering. Along with the city council’s decision to close certain roads to visitors sometimes so that the tourists might be bussed into the shops was appreciated. Even café owners — who you would think could be jubilant — grumbled because they got their meals on board, that vacationers only ordered coffee.
It had been unsophisticated as documentaries go. No camera angles or wry editorial jump cuts here. But it created its points offering proof that not all in life may please everyone.