Airdate: Elephant: Spy in the Herd

As previously reported, the success of David Attenborough is proving so popular for Nine that it is following Tiger: Spy in the Jungle with three more specials featuring lions, elephants and bears.

In fact, the ratings for this nature series have been so strong (this week getting 1.54m viewers) that Nine doesn’t mind the fact that the next batch have actually screened in Australia before.

Lion: Spy in the Den aired on the ABC in 2001. Elephant: Spy in the Herd followed in 2005 and Bear: Spy in the Woods was on the Animal Planet channel as recently as April.

Still, Attenborough and his sage-like narration make for easy entertainment that is clearly working -including giving Sea Patrol a strong lead in.

Attenborough has also made two “spy” series on Wildebeests.

Press Release:

Following on from the success of TIGER – SPY IN THE JUNGLE, Channel Nine presents the next three instalments from wildlife master David Attenborough: LION – SPY IN THE DEN, ELEPHANT – SPY IN THE HERD and BEAR – SPY IN THE WOODS, commencing Monday, June 9 at 7.30pm.

LION – SPY IN THE DEN is an intimate portrait of what it’s really like to be a lion growing up to be king of the African plains. Filmed right under the lion’s nose, it features a state-of-the-art mini camera with surround sound hidden on an ingenious buggy disguised as a boulder. Producer John Downer says: “It gets so close that you can hear the cubs breathe as their whiskers brush against the lens.”

Over two years, Attenborough’s team watched lions for 3000 hours to produce this film which takes a fascinating lion’s view on life. “Bouldercam”, another of the special wildlife “spy” cameras, survives being sat on by an over-amorous male and chewed on by cubs, and becomes accepted as part of the pride.

The documentary shows cocky cubs taking on an angry hippo and being kept in a crèche where their mothers share suckling duties and dish out strict discipline. Comparisons can be made with domestic cats and lions as viewers watch the cubs getting stuck up trees, eating grass and generally causing mayhem.

ELEPHANT – SPY IN THE HERD is an equally engaging wildlife documentary and the most intimate portrayal ever of life in an elephant herd as it follows a family for more than a year.

A new range of “spy cams” were created especially for ELEPHANT – SPY IN THE HERD. Cameras were disguised as elephant dung in three different versions: “dungcam”, based on a pile of dung which can crawl around on hidden wheels; “poopcam”, a larger and faster version that can race towards the action; and “plopcam”, based on a single dollop of dung that is indistinguishable from the real thing. The intimacy of the dungcam images reveals the subtleties of elephant life in a way that has never been seen before and shows how these mighty animals share many human qualities.

The final part of the trilogy is BEAR – SPY IN THE WOODS which takes viewers within a paw’s swipe of the bear world and reveals the most ambitious deployment of the roving spy cameras.

Multiple camouflaged cameras unravel the lives of bears. Cameras plunge into the water as bears dive for salmon, swim with polar bears between ice floes, and follow the antics of cute cubs known as spectacled bears, which are the only bears to inhabit South America as well as being the inspiration for Paddington Bear.

One of the most astonishing devices in this whole arsenal of roving cameras is the “magi-cam”. Taking lessons from the world of magic, this camera uses a caterpillar-tracked device and, with the use of mirrors, effectively vanishes into the bears’ environment, making it all but invisible to the animals being spied on.

BEAR – SPY IN THE WOODS also tracks the giant panda in the wild, penetrating the bamboo curtain to gain an astonishing glimpse into the private lives of pandas – even capturing them doing handstands, and unravelling the mystery of the panda’s relationship with other bears. Throughout, this intimate bear portrait will make you feel as if you are right behind the lens.

LION – SPY IN THE DEN: 7.30pm Monday, June 9
ELEPHANT – SPY IN THE HERD: 7.30pm Monday, June 16
BEAR – SPY IN THE WOODS: 7.30pm Monday, June 23

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