What a sheer joy this programme was, as are all things presented by David Attenborough. The thing I like most about any show he narrates with those mellifluous tones is that you just know you’re guaranteed around an hour of jaw-droppingly spectacular footage.
And sure enough, last night’s intimate portrait of arguably nature’s most beautiful birds didn’t disappoint. I can only marvel at a) the amazing persistence of the camera people who must surely have the patience of saints and the skill of supreme artists and b) the photographic technology that these men and women have at their disposal.
All of the above captured these stunning birds in their natural habitat in New Guinea, and a real treat was seeing archive footage of Attenborough’s 1957 journey there when the birds’ beautiful plumage could only be imagined by the viewers at home with their black and white sets. Similarly, the footage from the first ‘60s shots in colour were likewise enchanting.
However, much of last night’s show was dedicated to the remarkable work of Miriam and Paul, conservationists devoted to researching the birds. They choreographed much of last night’s show, and their tireless devotion to researching the devastating effects of killing these birds for their plumage is invaluable work.
They tirelessly spend much of their lives crouched in hides, watching the birds and recording their activities in order to prove how valuable they are in nature’s terms, and thereby protect them also.
And what rewarding work it must be. And as ever with nature programmes, and again, especially with Attenborough holding our hands and guiding us carefully through the jungle, the vicarious study we were treated to was just that; a treat.
I watched in awe as we saw the mating rituals play out, and they’re intricate, beautiful and delicate, but in one instance, what began as one male hoping to entrance one female soon became something akin to a swingers’ night with birds at it left, right and centre.
But despite the incredibly touching and beautiful start to proceedings degenerating into something of a desperate free for all, it was spectacular to watch.
I only hope that lots of babies are going to be the result because the loss to our planet of these magnificent birds – through, yet again, the greed of man – would be a heinous one.
If you missed this gorgeous film, you can see it here on BBC’s iPlayer, and even if birds aren’t really your thing, you won’t be sorry you made the effort to watch this show.