Stay Classy…Planet Earth
I must admit I was quite excited. It might not be the coolest thing to be looking forward to, but the prospect of a new series of Planet Earth really appealed to my nerdy side. This time it would be live, an intriguing spin on the classic documentary, so in my mind I pictured David Attenborough, in some remote part of the world, sharing his knowledge with all of us simpletons stuck at home. Instead of Attenborough though, we are given, some might say a like-for-like replacement, Richard Hammond. Not me however, I would not say that at all.
I can picture the BBC team now, wrestling with concepts of how to freshen up the show.
“We really need to appeal to a different audience, y’know, one that is younger, or pretends to be, and cooler, or pretends to be. And we need to try and move away from the whole ‘nature expert’ idea as well.
“How about James May?”
“No, No. We need a person who won’t bore the audience with facts or relevant information, that’s not what people want to see nowadays. No, what we need is a simpler host, with a smiling face and a lack of anything about him. What we need, is Richard Hammond!”
The problem with this programme however cannot lie completely with the presenters. Perhaps the largest flaw has to be the fact that the only live part of the show is when Hammond and Bradbury tell us about what happened before the show, or when they flick on the night vision camera to show us some incredible shots of wildebeest sitting down. Here I was expecting to witness the quintessential scenes of nature play out in real time, the harsh realities of our world being broadcast simultaneously as the equilibrium of life is demonstrated, but instead, all we are given is three baby bears, two hungry lions, and a Hamster.
It would appear that instead of being exposed to the harshness of realities, the audience is shown the terrifying truth that is live TV. It’s not the BBC’s fault that nothing ever happens live, but after thousands of uneventful live-at-the-scene news reports, you would have thought they would know better. They soldier on though, cutting between Hammond and Bradbury in an attempt to create some excitement by seeing a different face on the screen, with both of them recounting in amazed tones how one the animals actually did something before.
Do you know what the worst thing about this programme is though? Not the presenters, or the fact that nothing is live, or the fact that very little happens, it is the constant lie that is perpetuated by numerous nature shows that animals think like us and are in fact just little Peter Rabbits and Baloos and Simbas. Simultaneously, Planet Earth Live is trying to demonstrate the ruthless characteristics of nature, and Disneyfying all of the animals to tug on the heartstrings of the public. Do they really think we are all so morally defunct that we can’t feel emotion for a starving lion cub without it being named and having its life anthropomorphized? They might as well have just dubbed a voice over the top and got Elton John to bang out a few tunes in the background. You don’t need to tell us that Harold the hippo gets a bit peckish around lunch time or pretend that animals are kissing or in love when they are just following their reproductive instincts and trying to sustain their species. You can’t try and tweak the storylines of that which has no script, especially when your forerunning programmes have taught exactly how nature works.
So there it is; the BBC’s new nature programme, stripped completely of anything credible, interesting, and informative, and where the only live thing about it is a man in a tent in Africa, struggling to cope. Brilliant.