The Telegraph, review: 'breathtakingly exciting'
This natural history series, narrated by David Attenborough, is beautiful and dramatic,
By Benji Wilson
The most remarkable thing about The Hunt (BBC One),
the BBC’s new natural history marvel, is its restraint.
I had assumed from the title and some of the trailers that we were in for a hearty dose of nature red in tooth and claw, Darwinism uncut, something to make ITV’s Jekyll and Hyde look tame.
Yet, so far at least, The Hunt appears not to be interested in what I had thought was the money shot – meaning the kill. Indeed, the opening few minutes of last night’s sensational first episode were avowedly anti-sensationalist, with David Attenborough (on narration duty) stressing time and again that hunters of every sort usually fail. Cheetahs? Losers.
This led to a brilliant sequence about the difficulties of being a leopard, of which the highlight for me was what can only be described as a headshot of an apex predator looking narked off. Our leopard had devised a cunning plan to sneak up on an impala by walking down a trench that ran through the middle of a plain. A camera had (somehow) followed it all the way, right up until the point where the impala had got wind of it and run off.
Stunning sequence upon stunning sequence followed, from the croc pretending to be a log to dupe wildebeest at watering holes to the wild dogs in Zambia, also hunting wildebeest. The dogs were filmed both at ground level and with aerial shots, each taking turns in the lead like the peloton on the Tour de France.
It was a perfect example of what this series has that some recent natural history has lacked – a narrative more compelling than just “isn’t nature amazing” or “aren’t we clever, we built a Penguincam”. Unfortunately, there is so much amazing nature photography available on several dedicated channels (not to mention YouTube) that we have become desensitised to the merely miraculous.
New landmark series will mark the land only if they have a good story to go with the pictures. And in the simple will-they-won’t-they device of a chase told with the direction and skill of a Hollywood movie, the producers of The Hunt have managed to add narrative tension to startling photography – with scintillating results.