Monday, 14 September 2009

Something to make you go Ah

Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I hate to do this to my non-Blighty readers, for whom the BBC iplayer is a ruthless no go zone, but there is something on there which I think everyone who can see, should see. It is episode two of Stephen Fry's Last Chance to See: The White Rhino. I am not a mad fan of nature programmes, possibly because of having seen too many in my youth. My school thought it educational for us to watch every last episode of David Attenborough that was ever on ever, even though generally they believed television was the work of the Devil. I remember loving them at the time, but once I grew to adulthood the thought of having to see one more fruit bat, or a fellow puffing about in the African bush, or someone doing a special whispery wildlife voice just became too much. So it was in a desultory nothing-else-is-on mood that I sat down to watch this, and only really because it was lovely Stephen. And sure enough, there was the whispering and the puffing about and the fruit bats. But it was all quite fascinating and there was a bit of Congo politics thrown in and some interesting little interchanges between Fry and his conservationist friend, and I learnt the difference between the White Rhino and the Usual Rhino (nothing to do with colour; shape of the mouth, apparently). So I kept on watching. And then, at around twenty-one minutes in, something so unexpected happened that it actually made me cry tears. I am a terrible old weeper, especially over animals, something I inherited from my sentimental Celtic father, but I don't think my reaction was just sentiment. I think this might have been the most confounding and emotional moment I have ever seen in a wildlife documentary. Or maybe I am just a soft old fool. Well, watch it and see. Whether you weep or not, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.


  1. The BBC really do need to work this out. I can listen to every radio station in Europe but the BBC still remains elusive.
    My uncle was Head of Drama for the BBC for 20 years. Maybe he can do something somewhere - a letter, an email etc.
    Will have to live vicariously through others. xxx

  2. So Lovely - You KNOW I hate torturing my American readers with this (I think of Miss Whistle and LLG). It's the only time I get cross with the Beeb. Very impressed about your uncle. My family are all far too rackety to get anywhere near Auntie, much to my dismay.

    I shall try and describe the touching moment for you (although might they have it on BBC America? Or not?). S Fry went to a chimp sanctuary. Two abandoned chimps, who had undergone a year of rehabilitation, were to be put back into the outside, with the other animals, for the first time. I am not sure I have ever even seen wild chimps before, I was so surprised by the size and ferocity of the adults. They look nothing like the PG tip version and more like gorillas, very feral and amazingly big and black and strong, pulling at trees and bushes and not looking cuddly and friendly at all. The little ones, who had been raised by humans for the last year, did look like PG tips, all tiny and huggy and vulnerable eyes. I was convinced the big males would just come and bash up the new arrivals in a nature red in tooth and claw alpha male kind of way. The sanctuary lady was very nervous. I could hardly look. And THEN the huge great wild adults came charging through the bushes, PICKED UP the little tinies in their arms and, with no hesitation, started cradling them like they were their long long children. So of course I burst into tears. Then they all played together and it was the most tender and touching thing I have ever seen.

    You see there really is a reason I do not let myself watch wildlife programmes.

  3. I'm with you on this one, and don't get me started on meerkats. The little one that no one wants to be friends with, all alone while they scamper around being photogenic? And then the eagle circles ... wept buckets, scarred for life.


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