Andrea James

Whirlybird: Live Above LA review – intimate portrayal of how they got the eye in the sky

Lucy Mangan @LucyMangan

Mon 15 Feb 2021 17.30 EST

Whirlybird: Live Above LA (BBC Four) sets out to be many things. It is a documentary about the evolution – brought about largely by one married couple, Bob Tur and Marika Gerrard-Tur – in live broadcast news in the US since the early 80s. It is an intimate, bittersweet portrait of the breakup of a family under pressure. It is the story of a man’s transition to life as a woman, as Bob came out publicly in 2013 as a trans woman and now lives as Zoey Tur. (I am using the names and pronouns the film and family use when talking about the past, on the assumption that Zoey, a strong, articulate presence who seems unlikely not to have made any feelings on the matter clear, signed off on the decision.) And it is an oblique study in what it takes to get things done, whether it is to revolutionise an industry, remake a body or remove yourself from a toxic relationship when, as it was for Marika, not only your domestic life and your children but also your professional existence are bound up in it.


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