Wild Brazil, BBC2 - TV review
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Tuesday 14 January 2014
For Brazilian animals, monsoon season is a lot like Christmas, as we discovered in the first episode of the three-part nature documentary Wild Brazil (BBC2) last night. It’s a time of feasting, family arguments, and pretty little lights, which come from the luminescent beetle grubs that burrow up to the surface of termite mounds when the rains come, so they can entrap returning termites for food.
That’s the only generalisation to be made about the content of this programme, because Brazil is so vast its landscape varies so widely – from wetlands to desert and from mountains to plains – and it’s home to more animals than any other nation on Earth.
Wild Brazil was particularly good at conveying a sense of this vastness: the sections were linked together by aeriel shots which give the sensation of flying overhead from habitat to habitat. They were achieved with a nifty bit of kit on a remote-control helicopter, which we learned in the making-of addendum: seemingly a de rigueur part of nature documentaries these days.
It’s the animals, not the gadgets that really fascinate, however. There was the mischievous caracara birds, the sleek jaguars and the languorous, alligator-like cayman, whose low-maintenance approach to hunting involved lining up across the river with their mouths open and waiting for the fish to be swept straight into their stomachs.
This episode focused on three different species in particular: giant otters, the not-as-cute-as-they-look capuchin monkeys and coatis, a mammal I’d never heard of before, but which look like a cross between a fox and a raccoon. Coatis live in the grasslands of the southern Pantanal for most of the year, but are forced to retreat to the trees when the rains come and flood their habitat. I’m sure some unfortunate residents of the Thames Valley can empathise after last week.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West