Television / Survival (ITV)
Saturday 15 July 1995
The problem with seeking congruity between the personalities of man and other mammals is that it doesn't work. Survival (ITV) pitched its film as a chance for the hog to strut a catwalk too often trodden by more sleekly designed models. This was its chance to, if you will, hog the limelight. "What it lacks in looks," intoned Hywell Bennett, "it makes up for in character." Warthogs all over the bush will doubtless be faxing Anglia to give thanks for this overdue acknowledgement of their qualities.
No question about it, the warthog is the last word in preternatural deformity. The four warts on the male face are hideous, the tusks curl upwards in Baroque excess and the dashing mane looks like a malevolent joke played by God on a creature with so little cause for vanity. In the family we met, three generations of females gave birth together: dominant males like to put their seed about a bit, so the problem could be the result of inbreeding. If your great-grandmother was also your aunt, you'd probably be plastered with warts too. There's no getting away from the looks issue - if you're human. But as man plays no part in a hog's life, his aesthetic judgement seems utterly irrelevant. Leopards and jackals, who do play a part, probably do not prey on hogs as a punishment for being ugly as sin. They just like the taste.
The imposition of human values on an animal is the sort of low-brow activity you expect from ITV. The words of the script ridiculously insisted that the warthog is a star, while the pictures proved otherwise. Pro rata, we spent more time with one magnificent leopard than any hog. We took time out to watch the miraculous birth of a giraffe, and a thunderous tussle between a hippo and a buffalo. Neither are big events in a hog's life, but both are gifts to an aesthetically hungry film-maker.
The film couldn't help but leak some information, and Barbara Tyack's photography was never less than stunning. You got a rough idea of what it's like to be a warthog for a year. The riddle of its lookalike was solved too: thrusting, snouty mouth, piggy eyes set poles apart, slick quiff to compensate. There's only one cabinet minister of whom it can safely be said: nice hair, shame about the face.
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
- 2 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 3 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 4 How to gain confidence and maximise your sexual potential
- 5 Chinese theme park sets up 'death simulator' where volunteers can experience being cremated
Penny Dreadful, series 2 episode 1, review: It is still gloriously silly
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
Eurovision 2015: What date and time is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
How the Other Half Eat, Channel 4 - TV review: Swapping food trolleys shows how food and class are closely connected
Noel Gallagher 'cannot wait' to hear Oasis-inspired One Direction album but rants about 'pointless' Tidal and Spotify
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils