Last Night's Viewing - The Polar Bear Family and Me, BBC2; The Truth About Magaluf: Stacey Dooley Investigates, BBC3

 

"It's a bit of a waiting game," said a polar bear expert in The Polar Bear Family and Me, as he and Gordon Buchanan hunkered down to wait for their subject to do something filmable. But it isn't if you're watching the final film. You don't have to wait for anything, these days, as the opening sequence from last night's episode demonstrated, immediately laying out a bullet-point preview of every moment of wonder and awe that was to follow.

This is the prevailing mode in television right now and it's a kind of self-inflicted vandalism. So desperate are directors (or more usually commissioning editors) that we should watch their programme that they eagerly rush to spoil it, destroying any possibility of narrative tension or slow reveal. There is no real "journey" (the buzzword of the moment) because you invariably begin with the destination.

So, last night, right off the bat, we got the money shots of Buchanan stroking a pair of polar bear cubs as they clung to their tranquillized mother and footage from the remarkable sequence in which he sat inside a Perspex cube as a full-grown bear tried to open it and eat him. And then we sat around until we could watch them again, but this time in context. It's a bit like a striptease that begins with the dancer dropping everything, then getting dressed again and doing it slowly. Which is not to say that there's nothing to watch in the interim. Buchanan, who made a wonderful trilogy of films about his relationship with a single family of black bears in Minnesota, is essentially repeating the process, but this time with a species that would be perfectly happy to include a wildlife cameraman on its menu.

The Ice Cube was one of the solutions he'd come up with – a worryingly home-made looking safety cage that he set down near a seal hole in the hope that it would give him unprecedented access to a bear's hunting technique. It half worked, I suppose, since the first bear that turned up decided that the novelty meat in the puzzle packaging was a far more enticing prospect. Seal? So been there. But this thing smells really good, if I could only just get the box open. As the bear prodded and poked at the weak points of the structure, Buchanan kept up a running commentary on its efforts, which got more breathless and high-pitched with every passing second. "Is that giving a little?" he croaked as a paw the size of an excavator's bucket rattled against the Plexiglass. Wonderful, but how much more so if they'd only hinted at what was coming.

Stacey Dooley offered "a story we've never seen before" at the beginning of The Truth About Magaluf. You need to stay in a bit more, Stacey, if you really believe that. The seamy underbelly of British holiday resorts has been repeatedly covered, in virtually every television format available, apart from the phone-vote talent contest. There really can't be many people out there who fondly believe that British youngsters head to Magaluf for bridge evenings and a little fino sherry before bed. Still, Stacey is a winningly sweet presence on screen and the horrors of this particular outpost of British culture can't really be overstated.

Dooley looked at the Magaluf holiday from the service-industries end, working alongside the chambermaids who have to wipe semen off bedroom walls and fish the furniture out of the swimming pool and the paramedics who struggle nightly to prevent Darwinian selection from taking its course. She also talked to the Mayor of Magaluf, who indolently shrugged off any suggestion that the local authorities might in any way curb the undignified bacchanal. I did mean to look as well at What Happens in Kavos, Channel 4's treatment of the same subject, but I felt sick after one and decided I'd reached my limit.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border