'Planet Earth Live; join us for the ultimate global wildlife drama.
Real animals. Real lives. In real time.'
"Welcome back to the Masai Mara, where the heavy rain has not dampened the spirits of Richard Hammond. Stuck in his tent amid the downpour, Hammond is reverting to his usual behaviour, gesticulating and chattering excitedly to camera; he must now use all his entertainment skills if the programme is to survive the next few weeks..."
Oh dear! Auntie has blown a massive chunk of our money on an all-squeaking, all-slaughtering Natural History jamboree and it's not going down at all well.
It was obviously meant to be a triumph of 'My Little Pony' broadcasting - make a list of the things viewers like best and put them all together in an incongruous one-size-pleases-all package - with hot and cold running popular presenters in exotic locations and lots of cute baby animals, some of which get eaten in exciting chase sequences.
The public, however, turned out to be resolutely ungrateful for this largesse; the first episode has brought a volley of complaints, not least about the fact that, despite the grandiose strapline above, the programme featured just 20 minutes of live footage consisting almost entirely of the presenters talking to camera, although a couple of buffalo were glimpsed in blurry night vision at one point.
However, the disgruntled viewers are, according to the BBC, quite literally missing the plot:
A spokesman for the BBC admitted that there was little live animal action but said the presenters were there to comment on the day’s news and stories and to provide analysis.
“A lot of it had been filmed that day on location and the footage was clearly signed as pre-packaged,” said the spokesman. “We consider the series to be a multi-media experience so the Twitter feed and website is key to the live action.”So get with it, Grandpa - live TV is just so last year! Those hip young things at the BBC know what the viewers want, at least the viewers that matter; constant anthropomorphic soap opera is the order of the day, held together with lashings of cuteness and cheap sentimentality.
Thus it is that Hammond breathlessly describes a lioness as a 'single mum bringing up her son in difficult circumstances', while an elephant - 'Emily' - is 'a first-time mum who is finding things tricky'; all that's missing is Jamie Oliver recommending a list of healthy alternatives to decomposing zebra.
That being so, I suppose it makes perfect sense to choose wildlife programme presenters for their popular appeal rather than any expertise in the subject; perhaps the more intellectually demanding viewers should be grateful they were not invited to vote and say which of the the least talented animals should be fed to the lions.
This is Mother Nature as a pregnant 16-year-old with a Justin Bieber fixation.