Yeti search gets off to a hairy start: Actor's plans for a pounds 1m BBC monster series appear difficult to

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The Independent Online
AN ELUSIVE large hairy man was being frantically tracked down by the BBC yesterday after reports that the corporation was spending pounds 1m on helping him and a crew to track down several other elusive large hairy men on three continents.

The actor Brian Blessed, according to his own account, is to spend several months next year leading an eight-man camera crew on a 3,000-mile trek in a bid to come face to camera with the giant yeti.

With that task in the Himalayas completed, Mr Blessed and team will set off for Sumatra to acquaint themselves with another yeti family member, the Orangpendeck - or Upright Man, and then head off to North America for a photo-opportunity with Sasquatch or Bigfoot. 'There is a need for a monster like this in our society. If we didn't have them we would have to create them,' Mr Blessed told London's Evening Standard.

But yesterday, Mr Blessed, who, at 57, will attempt to become the oldest man to climb Everest this August, was proving as elusive as his subject. BBC TV Centre said it had no evidence of the project, although Mr Blessed's agent claimed to have had several sightings. Eventually the trail led to BBC Bristol, where a spokesman said: 'It's not even off the ground yet, let alone up the Himalayas.'

In London, John-Paul Davison, a BBC director, reported firm evidence of the series and hopes to begin filming next spring.

He estimates the costs at nearer pounds 700,000, and is unperturbed at spending licence-payers' money to find the yeti, when he probably won't: 'One cannot be relied on to get a three-minute sequence of the yeti like David Attenborough and his gorillas but I think there is an unidentified animal there and if we do not actually track it down, it is still a useful device for getting through an interesting part of the world.'

(Photograph omitted)