What an odd concept; pair up a DIY programme presenter, Nick Knowles, with a wildlife film-maker, James Honeyborne, and then get eight people who aspire to be the next David Attenborough. Then, drop them all off in Africa so the eight contestants can compete for a job with the BBC ‘s Natural History unit while Nick takes the p*** and James sighs like a testy grandad.
It’s a bit like the format of The Apprentice but instead of just getting a tongue lashing from Sir Alan, these folks have to face storms of Armageddon proportions and/or getting eaten by something. They all had to strive to prove themselves capable of spending hour upon hour in dangerous and rough territory for those precious few seconds of wildlife footage.
Words of wisdom were legion including, “Don’t run; think about this, out here, food runs.” Truly the dictionary definition of ‘fast food’.
So the first task and chance to prove themselves worthy involved the hopefuls filming elephants while being observed and judged by Nick, James and elephant specialist Dr Kate Evans, who seems to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of pachyderms.
The contestants had to climb aboard a very dodgy looking canoe – or Mokoro – and set sail into waters filled with hippos and crocs who were probably hoping that someone would fall in and provide them with a tasty snack. And indeed, one of them nearly did; contestant James stood precariously wobbling the boat so he could get the best shot of the heffalumps on the bank.
Next up was a trek into Meerkat territory, and if it had been me, I’d have been hoping to meet Meerkat.com’s Alexander and Sergei, but alas, they must’ve been off filming or fixing their comptermabob. Or maybe they were just sensibly sheltering from the torrential downpour that ensued, complete with a lightening display that truly was nature’s own pyrotechnic display.
And it carried on raining… and then it rained some more, causing everyone to be evacuated from their campsite in the middle of the night.
Nick, demonstrating a real talent for stating the glaringly obvious said, “We’ve just had a storm of biblical proportions” while James commented sagely, “Inside, my tent’s like being inside a shower cubicle, and even for the Kalahari, you could say this is an extreme weather event.”
So, with no sign of Alexander or Sergei and with lots of wet non-celeb Meerkats behind them, the group moved on to track rhinos under the watchful eye of Tswalu reserve manager Gus Van Dyk and of course, the waxing lyrical Nick and the rather dull and parent-like James.
Ultimately, the wannabes had to prove that they could track beasties as well as film them and after much deliberation, it was decided that Sadia, a mum from London, just didn’t have what it takes so she was despatched back to Blighty. The decision to be rid of Sadia was made largely because she was sent to film elephants but turned up with footage of tortoises instead. Bless.
So you get the gist; each week they’ll lose someone else until one remains, and that one will win the coveted job. Next week, we’ll see them all shipped off to South Africa where they’ll have to film killer bees half way down a sheer cliff face. They’ll also be filming fruit bats in a dank cave system that’s positively teeming with hazards.
Will I be tuning in? Probably, if only because I fancy Nick Knowles, but there’s also the stunning scenery and the fear on the faces of the wannabes. Definitely worth seeing.