Elephants are the ultimate proof that there is a God. It's just not possible that something as utterly bizarre as the elephant could have evolved on its own. As Jonathan Scott had a go at steering an African elephant by the name of Abu on Dawn to Dusk Safari (BBC1), using only a stick with a hook on the end and a bag of sugar, he rapped the pachyderm's ear. "Feels like cardboard," he said in the sort of voice usually reserved for discussing the blackberry content of a glass of wine.

The lovely Abu, an elephant of extraordinary sweetness and somewhat intrusive habits - when Scott tucked his knees in behind Abu's ears, the elephant responded by reaching back and fumbling most indelicately about the man's crotch with the prehensile bit of his trunk - is part of an artificial herd of former zoo and circus exhibits rescued and brought back to the Okavango Delta in Botswana by one Randall Jay Moore. Paying no heed to the received wisdom which states that African elephants are undomesticable, Moore spends his days pottering about the plains seated on their necks. It quickly became apparent that the man is completely cracked on his lumbering buddies, and after about five minutes in their company, I was pretty cracked on them myself.

As wildlife footage goes, this was impressive stuff. Africa is probably the continent after America with which the British viewing public is most familiar. The roads leading to the Serengeti must be gridlocked with Land Rovers full of documentary makers and their equipment. And yet, despite the fact that most of us could quite easily pick out the wildebeest who mugged us if asked to do so in a police line-up, one rarely gets a feel for animal character. Not so last night. Because the herd in question, while living in the wild, was essentially tame, photographers Mike Fox and Gavin Thurston were able to get up close to their frolics and play with the personalities: Abu, a natural leader, was completely at ease with the idea of letting these weedy anthropoids hitch a ride on his back. Gika had taken the role of mother hen. Miss B, a tiny orphan from Kruger who "knows she's the cutest little elephant on this earth", demanded constant praise from the grown-ups. They sploshed around in mud baths, displaying amazing suppleness and touchingly playful affection. Would that more human families could do the same.

Another large animal, Luciano Pavarotti, was the subject of Four Tarts and a Tenor (BBC2), the first in the returning Picture This strand. Francesca Joseph's film was the story, told by the people who organised it, of the return of the fat man to the Llangollen Eisteddfod after 40 years last summer.

This was a refreshingly elliptical piece, sometimes a little irritating - one could have done with a couple fewer shots, for instance, of the chef riding his bicycle up the towpath - but generally successful. It certainly contained some memorable visuals: a dark-suited security guard standing impassively before a brick wall and looking for all the world like a Magritte; the Eisteddfod Pavilion looming over the misty fields as though little green men were about to issue from its bowels. And there was a lovely, cosy feel of parochiality about the whole.

"He stayed with Alice," said Maureen Jones, marketing director, shot through an unflattering wide-angle which made her look like an asylum inmate in a Hammer House of Horror spectacular. "You've met Alice. And you can imagine how well she looked after him." Alice herself had only sketchy memories of the maestro, but what she did remember seemed most fitting. "He ate all his food. And he enjoyed his food." Harvey Goldsmith, the concert promoter, was universally remembered: "Hard, very tough". "A short, stocky sort of character". "Orlroight, mate," said the chef at the Bryn Howell Hotel, slipping for a moment into a brilliant wide- boy imitation, "I've just been doing the Queen gig in London". This was a delight: to pull off a film about the cult of personality without once showing the man himself or resorting to renditions of Nessun Dorma was quite an achievement.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?