I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s missing Planet Earth II right now. The acclaimed documentary series, presented by the celebrated Sir David Attenborough, was a big hit for the BBC, combining exotic locales, sumptuous visuals, breathing-taking cinematography, and a cast of some of the weirdest, cutest, scariest and rarest animals known to mankind.
The six-episode long series was a big draw for the British broadcaster, at one point boasting over 13 million views on first transmission – without even factoring other views attained from streaming services.
So it’s no surprise that the BBC would want a replacement for the hit show, and have even pledged to make a third series before Attenborough reaches 100 years old. But they can’t very well just do the very same thing… which is why the premise for their latest documentary is probably one of the most insane ideas ever dreamt up. Animals interacting with androids…
The upcoming candid-camera-style documentary, entitled Spy In The Wild, will unleash a number of realistic robots (which look exactly like animals) into nature in order to film their subjects up close, and it’s clear that the experiment has been more interesting than anyone could have hoped – particularly after a family of monkeys dropped a robot disguised as a baby and then freaked out. For more information on this insane show shoot over to page two. The BBC’s latest nature documentary series, Spy In The Wild, which combines real-life animals with camera-concealing robot replicas has already created some dramatic scenes after the robots were introduced to a gang of primates.
In the first episode, a gang of Indian langur monkeys mistook a robot disguised as a baby langur as one of their own. When the patriarch of the family went to pick up the smaller monkey-bot it accidentally dropped it, and subsequently acted as though bereaved when the android camera appeared to be dead.
Commenting on the incredible scene, Matthew Gordon, senior producer of the programme, stated: “We felt this calm and silence coming over them.”
“All the noise they were making at the beginning just went completely silent and then they hugged each other. It was a voyage of discovery. We were never quite certain what we were going to discover. As they hugged each other, all of a sudden a gust of wind blew past me and ruffled the fur of the langurs.
He continued; “That was the moment I was looking through the viewfinder and thinking, ‘We’re capturing something truly remarkable here.’ And when the scientist comes over and he is just as excited as you are, you know you’re onto something special.”
Gordon added: “The langur monkeys were paying their respects and hugging each other. In those moments where they lose someone, a lot of emotions break out, so they hug each other and try to calm the situation down. A sequence like that gives us insight into why we do that – we all want to feel connected to other people.”
Executive producer John Downer and his team have created a grand total of thirty-four 34 “spy creatures” with which to observe animals in their natural habitats. Downer has created numerous elaborate camouflages for animal documentaries in the past, including a fake rock on treads called the “bouldercam” and even an “egg-cam” to spy on penguins.
Downer has also had a hand in creating such celebrated documentary series as Dolphins – Spy In The Pod, Penguins – Spy In The Huddle, Polar Bears – Spy On The Ice, Tiger – Spy In The Jungle, Bears – Spy in the Woods, and Elephants – Spy in the Herd. But this looks to be his most elaborate feature yet! The first episode will air at 8pm (GMT) on Thursday 12th January on BBC One.