Fake shots `routine' in TV wildlife programmes
Monday 10 August 1998
Hugh Miles, who has worked for the BBC and for Anglia Television's Survival series for more than 20 years, claimed that the practice of choreographing extra scenes with captive, or "habituated", animals is regarded as an acceptable solution for many wildlife documentary makers.
"It is a common technique when you need to capture a particular piece of behaviour that is vital for the story you are telling," said Mr Miles, who shot memorable sequences for Sir David Attenborough's Life on Earth series and for the more recent documentaries, Flight of the Condor and Kingdom of the Ice Bear.
"It is always a last resort and it is certainly something I try to avoid," added Mr Miles. "But on one or two occasions I have had to fall back on it myself. The truth is that all films are a cheat. We get as close as we can to the scientific truth and 99 per cent of the work is genuine."
Mr Miles was responding to allegations that a film crew working for Survival made use of tame hyenas, porcupines and wild cats when they put together a new documentary, Tale of the Tides. The film has already been shortlisted for the 1998 Wildscreen Golden Panda award and is to be broadcast on ITV without any explanation to viewers about some of the techniques used.
"I know the team involved with making this film, Mark Deeble and Vicky Stone, and they are two of the most committed film-makers you could find," said Mr Miles. "They will only have used captive animals if the piece of behaviour they needed to get would have been too stressful for the wild animals involved."
A spokesman for Anglia Television, which commissions the Survival series, admitted the film had made use of tame animals, but stressed that the decision was not the result of budget considerations.
"Tale of the Tides makes use of the practice, but the bulk of the film is the result of two years' work and thousands of hours spent filming in the wild," the spokesman said.
"The sole criterion for using habituated and captive animals is to show behaviour that looks natural in the wild but that would be either impossible, prohibitively difficult, or unjustifiably disturbing to film with totally wild creatures.
"Strict conditions are always applied: no animal is harmed or put under unnatural stress, the behaviour shown is authentic and the relevant sequences are not be possible to obtain in any other way. Survival, along with other UK-based natural history producers, has never made any secret of the fact that these techniques are occasionally employed."
The methods used by wildlife camera crews are likely to come under greater scrutiny in future, however. Public attitudes to fakery have been sensitised in recent months by the revelation that several documentaries, factual programmes and docu-dramas routinely set up and re-shoot scenes to give a desired impression.
- 1 If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
- 4 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 5 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
Auschwitz museum defends mist showers installed during heat wave after visitor complains they are reminiscent of gas chambers
More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
Nazi 'gold train': Fire engulfs suspected location of vehicle in Poland
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...
£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...
£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...
£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...