BBC admits scenes in Human Planet which showed tribe living in rainforest treehouse were faked

2011 documentary series showed remote Indonesian tribe building home 30 metres high among trees

Chris Baynes
Thursday 05 April 2018 08:56
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Scene from BBC's Human Planet which shows tribe 'living in rainforest treehouse'

The BBC has admitted scenes in a TV documentary which showed a tribe building and moving into treehouses high up in the rainforest were staged by programme makers.

The broadcaster said an episode of the 2011 series Human Planet “breached editorial standards” by inaccurately portraying the Korowai people, who live in a remote area of the Indonesian province of West Papua.

During the filming of a new BBC2 documentary series, My Year With The Tribe, it emerged the tribe had built a wooden home 30 metres up in the forest canopy “for the benefit of overseas programme makers”.

In the upcoming series, adventurer Will Millard is seen visiting the same Korowai tribe, who tell him the raised houses “are not our home” and were “commissioned for filming”.

Millard comments: “That’s why they’re worried [about] how many people come up here and we might fall through the floor. This is not where they live, this is total artifice.”

The BBC said in a statement: “The BBC has been alerted to a breach of editorial standards in an episode of Human Planet from 2011 which concerns the Korowai people of West Papua.

“During the making of BBC Two’s upcoming documentary series, My Year With The Tribe, a member of the tribe discusses how they have built very high tree houses for the benefit of overseas programme makers.

“The BBC has reviewed a sequence in Human Planet depicting this and found that the portrayal of the tribe moving into the treehouse as a real home is not accurate.

“Since this programme was broadcast in 2011, we have strengthened our mandatory training for all staff in editorial guidelines, standards and values.”

Human Planet, an eight-part series narrated by John Hurt, focused on people living in some of the world's most remote locations.

My Year With The Tribe will air on BBC Two on 15 April.

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