Davina McCall: Life at the Extreme, ITV - TV review: Less presenter, more animal action, please

Davina was an engaging and likeable front-woman, but there should have been more of the wildlife in its natural habitat 

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The Independent Culture

If you didn't get it from the title, Davina McCall was visiting some extreme climates in this four-parter. Here, our Dav was in Namibia and it was really, really hot and dry and she was determined to show us just how much. In practice, that meant a lot of her – and not quite enough wildlife– in front of the camera. 

Dav lost her cool immediately. "Oh my god, it's a cheetah." From there, it quickly became apparent that most of the budget for this probably went on her, and they got their money’s worth. They filmed the – admittedly telegenic presenter -racing the tame cheetahs in an enclosure (maybe the Big Cat Workout will feature in her next DVD?).  It was amazing to see a powerful beast purring and pawing like a domestic kitty then flopping down on under a tree while Davina panted on-cheetahs conserve their energy to survive in the heat, see?- but I’m not sure it was as good as watching the cats in action in the wild. "We're blessed to be able to do this," said the cheetah owner. Bet the accounts department thought so, too.

I preferred the segments in the desert when we saw the animals in their natural habitat. Like the shovel-snouted lizard who “danced” on the sand so that it didn’t burn its feet, and  the chameleon that crushed beetles to get its water. I’m not sure we needed thermal imaging cameras to show us that it was bloody hot (the fact that the thermometer on the dashboard crashed out at 66 degrees kind of made that clear) but it hammered the point home. Davina's enthusiasm for the wildlife was genuine and I suppose her presence was this show's USP, which is fine, but the animals were the stars for me.