TELEVISION / The tarantula's tale, lightly grilled

NATURAL history film-makers often imply that the difference between mankind and the animal world is purely visual and not remotely behavioural. 'The whole process is fascinating,' enthused the voiceover in 'Tarantula]' a film for Survival (ITV). 'The build-up to mating can take up to two hours, with the male making several failed attempts.'

For a moment, it looked as if Desmond Morris was back, scientifically measuring the skimpiness of female clothing and the flagrancy of male chat-up lines, before stationing himself ringside in the cervix. But only for a moment. The female human, unlike the female tarantula, has not yet fully developed the skill of warding off sexual predators by harpooning the air with thousands of leg hairs which burn the throat when inhaled. Although radical feminists in Manhattan may be working on it right now.

When comparing The Human Animal (Wednesday, BBC 1) with 'Tarantula]', we can conclude that while sensationalist films about humans pass themselves off as science, scientific programmes about animals aim for sensationalism.

Thus, in an informative hour spent deep in the Venezuelan Amazon that inspired Conan Doyle's Lost World, the talk was all of giant this, monster that, larger- than-life the other. Anglia is second only to BBC Bristol in its coverage of natural history but, like the effect of a tarantula's poison on its prey, it sounds as if it's being eaten alive from inside by the venomous influence of Carlton.

When a spider dispatches a much larger poisonous snake, its 'technique for diving on its victim', we learnt, 'is as gruesome and leisurely as the kill is clean and swift'. In that sentence, the second pair of adjectives convey much more information than the first, which are just there for kicks.

While the tarantula might grow to the size of a dinner-plate, Piaroa Indians tend not to use dinner-plates. Of all Nick Gordon's mesmerising footage, some of it taken from a hole with as restricted a view as any Desmond Morris has penetrated, the most extraordinary was the supper sequence.

In this, an Indian lures the spider out of its lair, traps it live and ties it in a parcel of leaves. Having lit the fire, he unwraps it, kills it, yanks off the legs and prepares an international menu of omelette aux oeuf de tarentelle (a tad bitter) followed by tarantula alla griglia (not unlike prawns). Rather inconsiderate of the beast not to lay on dessert too.

The only thing left at the end are the fangs, which are quite handy as toothpicks. Back in decadent Manhattan, a pack of tarantula-fang toothpicks would doubtless cost as much, and bring as much social cachet, as it does to be snapped by Albert Watson.

My Name Is Albert Watson (BBC 2) profiled the Scottish photographer whose name you won't know but whose pictures you will: Clint as a Mount Rushmore bas-relief, Clapton resembling a Rembrandt, Mick 'n' Keef saying it with pursed lips and spurning shoulders.

The story of the Stones photo is instructive. The subjects had refused a double portrait, but Watson suggested a quickie for the road. Next time you're posing for a magazine cover, remember that when a photographer proposes just one last snap that makes a fool of you, that's the one that'll get used. And people say journalists are duplicitous.

This was one of those wearying profiles where the talking heads are all filmed at crazy angles, as if the camera has been chucked into the room any old how and left there. Even sports documentaries do this nowadays. You can be sure Kirsty Wark, who produced, would never let herself be shot like that, however persuasive the photographer.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments