Thursday, 30 November 2006

Planet Earth - The Future

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BBC Four Sunday 10pm/Tuesday 7pm
(Total number of viewers: 423,000)

PLANET EARTH: THE FUTURE, With global warming at the top of the political agenda and species vanishing at an unprecedented rate, this new series brings together some of the world's premier thinkers, including scientists, environmentalists and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to discuss survival strategies.
From The Times - 25/11/2006

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Natural History Radio This Week

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Gardens of Faith – Judaism
Sunday 26th November 1445
In the forth of a five part series examining the relationship between a religion and the natural world Peter France explores how Judaism views gardens and nature.
Presented by Peter France
Produced by Mary Colwell

SOUNDSCAPE: The Sea Swallow
Mon-Fri 1545-1600
SOUNDSCAPE : The Sea Swallow, is the story of two Arctic Terns, one born on the Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland, the other in Iceland, and the challenges they face as they embark on their staggering annual migration across the globe, from their northern breeding grounds to their wintering quarters in Antarctica and back again.
Producer :Sarah Blunt

Planet Earth Under Threat
2 of 8 Life on the Move
Monday 9pm
In the second episode of a major new series Gabrielle Walker witnesses how climate change is forcing animals and plants to move. From insects gaining ground in the northern states of the US, to gelada baboons sitting on the tops of mountains with nowhere else to go - and some species of British butterfly making hay while the sun shines.
Produced by Beatrice Fenton, BBC Natural History Unit.

Shared Earth
Friday 3pm
Dylan Winter helps you enjoy and maintain British nature. This week he celebrates an eco-wedding and finds out what makes a good reservoir for wildlife.
Presenter: Dylan Winter
Producer: Alasdair Cross

Friday, 24 November 2006

Shark Therapy: Prog 2

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Having come to terms freediving with large sharks, Tanya travels to the Bahamas to dive with scary sharks: sharks with a reputation. She is spooked by the stars of the movie ‘Open Water’ – Caribbean reef sharks – as they respond aggressively to her silver suit. Changing into black neoprene, and wearing a scuba tank, she experiences a large shoal of toothy lemon sharks. But it’s the opportunity to dive with the legendary tiger shark, the most feared shark in these waters that will prove whether or not Tanya’s treatment has finally worked.

Planet Earth: Shallow Seas

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BBC 3, 8:30pm

Your body is a breeding place for millions of creatures which live on you and in you and most are invisible to the human eye – until now. Using cutting-edge technology, Grime Scene Investigation reveals a hidden world of organisms living all over our bodies. Specialist cameras film close-up footage of the billions of bacteria, fungi and parasites that live on us. Brushing your teeth, combing your hair and flushing the toilet will never be the same again after Grime Scene Investigation brings viewers face to face with some of the horrific creatures we share our bodies with. Scientists will examine how these critters survive, what impact they have on us and what purpose, if any, they serve.

6/8. Cambridge Breakdancers: Presenter Rufus Hound and the team check out a household of breakdace champions. Their home is over run with junk and filled with dust and bugs.

An RDF Bristol production

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Animal 24/7

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Mon 20th Nov, BBC1, 9.15 a.m.
1.1 million; 26 % audience share

Get up close and personal with our wildlife as this series follows the work of the nation’s top animal guardians – the wildlife crime officers, RSPCA inspectors, land estate managers, vets, specialists and amateur enthusiasts. From the unspoilt rural stretches to the heaving towns and cities, this programme is full of critters and the people who protect and care for them right around the clock. Each episode is full of adventure and fun with some fantastic and very interesting little characters and eccentric owners. Animal 24/7 delivers pure entertainment and a heart-warming series that will take us on a sometimes humorous and sometimes emotional journey. It’s a programme for all of the family – informative, educational and entertaining. ~ iD Distribution

Natural History Radio This Week

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Planet Earth Under Threat (Prog 1 of 8)
Monday 20th November at 9pm
Gabrielle Walker presents Planet Earth under Threat – a major new series on the impacts of climate change on the living world.
Listen to one of the 'on-Air' trails:
Presented by Gabrielle Walker
Produced by Julian Hector

Rum Goings On

Tuesday 21st November at 11am
In the 1940s a scientific fraud threatened to rock the British botanical establishment, when the eminent Professor J W Heslop Harrison claimed to have found some extraordinary plants on the Island of Rum in the Hebrides. A recent study has revisited his work, and as Julian Pettifer discovers, there is a new twist to an old tale.
Presented by Julian Pettifer
Produced by David Parkinson

Shared Earth (Prog 5 of 6)
Friday 24th November at 3pm
Dylan Winter enjoys some of the best autumn wildlife spectacles in Scotland - from salmon leaping upstream to spawn on a river in full spate in Perthshire to the arrival of tens of thousands of overwintering geese on Islay. He also finds out how the largest conservation project for Atlantic salmon is ensuring the rivers are in the best condition for the returning fish and what management plans are in place so local farmers on Islay can still make a living whilst accommodating their noisy and destructive winter visitors.
Presented by Dylan Winter
Produced by Sheena Duncan

Friday, 17 November 2006

Planet Earth: Jungles

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BBC 1 9pm Sunday
6.7 million, 26.1% Audience share

The Guardian - 18/11/2006
This is what TV was invented for, right? Skilful and innovative without being ostentatious, this series continues to beguile and inspire. Now, we're in the jungles and rain forests - occupying a mere 3% of the planet's land mass, they are home to over half of the world's species. Watch as trees fight for the precious sunlight, birds of paradise engage in some downright screwy mating rituals, and see what a freaky fungi does when it infects insects (something straight out of science fiction). More than just pedagogy, it's an experience. - Martin Skegg

Shark Therapy

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Sunday 19th Nov, 6:30pm, BBC2
In an attempt to overcome her shark phobia, Tanya Streeter travels to a shark hot-spot in the Indian Ocean, to meet the massive sharks of the Maldives. Her goal: to dive with the biggest shark in the world. But she is soon terrified out of the water by 2-foot long reef sharks. It takes an encounter with a spectacular shoal of manta rays to tempt her back in. In this difficult personal journey, Tanya freedives at night amongst feeding white-tips, discovers the curious deep-living zebra shark and comes face to face with the largest fish in the sea: the mighty whale shark.

Natural World: The Falls Of Iguacu

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BBC2 8pm
2.6 Million, 11.2% Audience Share

The giant waterfalls on the border of Brazil and Argentina are one of the natural wonders of the world – a spectacular horseshoe of tumbling water almost a mile long. Under the falls live thousands of swifts that plunge through the torrent to reach their nests. The falls are the centerpiece of a national park that protects a large area of Atlantic rainforest home to bizarre creatures like snail kites and manakins. Sadly it’s now under threat from illegal hunters and the park rangers face a constant struggle to keep its wildlife safe. Whilst jaguars have declined other animals like the incredibly cute coatis are thriving as never before.

Filmed & Directed by Christian Baumeister
Produced by Britta Kiesewetter, Dan Habershon-Butcher & Sabine Holzer
Executive Producers - Jorn Rover, Carl Hall, Walter Kohler
Series Editor Tim Martin

Review from The Guardian - 15/11/2006
They say you shouldn't go chasing waterfalls, that you should stick to the rivers and lakes that you're used to ("they" being TLC, of course). But this safety first approach doesn't take into account the bewitching beauty, the perilous poetry of waterfalls. The plummet might just be worth it for that moment on the edge.

The Falls of Iguacu are worth falling for. Formed 120m years ago by the rupture of the supercontinent Pangea, they are three times the size of Niagara and, in the wet season, enough water flows over in a day to supply London for a year. (Waterfalls are, of course, accompanied by a deluge of facts and figures.) Captivating stuff. - Gareth McLean

Wednesday, 15 November 2006


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ITV1 7.30pm, 14/11/2006
2.9m 15.3% share

Please note that as these programmes were tailored to individual nations and regions to launch Extinct, these audience figures will refer to the local London region.

'ITV has joined forces with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in a unique project to highlight the plight of some of Earth's most endangered animals and attempt to save threatened species from extinction. Joanne Malin and Tamzin Sylvester present this special report, which sees polar bears, gorillas and tigers listed as those most at risk. Extinct reveals what we can do to help stop these creatures being completely wiped out.' Pick of the Day, The Daily Express -

WWF Press Release
WWF-UK is excited to announce Extinct, a brilliant new television series in collaboration with ITV1. The programme will raise desperately needed funds and generate awareness about WWF's work around the world dealing with threats to endangered species and their habitats.
Extinct is a prime time show running from Saturday 9 to Saturday 16 December on ITV1, supported by a daytime quiz. Look out for regional programmes tonight (14 November) to launch the series.

Over the course of a week the programmes will feature eight endangered species around the world. Each species will be presented by a celebrity travelling to projects to learn about the threats these species face, and the solutions WWF and our partners are working on to ensure their survival.

The animals and celebrities being featured in the programme are the Bengal tiger, mountain gorilla, giant panda, Asian elephant, polar bear, orang-utan, leatherback turtle and hyacinth macaw. These animals will be represented by David Suchet, Anneka Rice, Pauline Collins, Michael Portillo and Graeme Le Saux, among others.
You and the public will be asked to vote for your favourite species. The winning species will receive 50% of the total funds raised. The remaining 50% will be split equally between the seven runners-up.

To find out more visit for all the latest news - we'll be keeping you updated.

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

I'm a celebrity...get me out of here!

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Natural History?

Itv 1, 9pm - 10.30pm.

8.9 MILLION, 38.1% Audience Share

This year, how many can you name?
From The Times - 14/11/2006 (213 words) Hugo Rifkind
The rats, snakes and slimy toads have been released into the jungle. Some of them also appeared on last night's opening instalment of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Jan Leeming, the former BBC newsreader, was the first to tackle a task and throw some fruity insults about.
After being forced to grapple rats and scorpions in a task called Mine Shaft Misery, she branded Ant and Dec, the cheeky Geordie hosts, "b******s".

Liza Minelli's oddball, plastic-surgery obsessed ex, David Gest, whose odds on becoming King of the Jungle have for some reason fallen dramatically, was the next to throw insults. He abused Tony Blair's sister-in-law, Lauren Booth, after she said that the contestant had an "ironing board face". She added that her luxury item was a ball of string, so "I can hold bits of David Gest's face together".

Gest then turned on the amply proportioned comedian Faith Brown. As she showered in her bathing costume, he shouted: "You could breast feed all of us and we would all have milk. It's true."

Can't you see why people love the show.

Friday, 10 November 2006

Planet Earth: Great Plains

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BBC 1 Sun 12th Nov, 9:00 pm
The great plains cover one quarter of the land on our planet and are home to some of the greatest gatherings of wildlife anywhere on earth. While herds of gazelle run for their lives on the Mongolian steppe, plagues of 5 million 'red-billed' quelea create havoc as they sweep through the African Savannah and in North America the immense herds of caribou are making their migration. These vast grasslands play host to some of the most incredible and surprising dramas in the natural world. "The sequence of the pride of lions hunting an elephant will stay in your minds for a very long time"!

Animal 24/7

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On BBC 1, weekday mornings at 9.15am
(yesterday's figures - 1.1 million, 27.9% Audience Share)

Today's Review from Radio Times
Series following people who protect and work closely with wildlife and domestic animals. RSPCA Animal Collections Officer Andy Sowdon is on the trail of a runaway cat, injured after a road traffic accident. We visit the Geltsdale Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve in Cumbria and get to see the important work of Investigations Officer Guy Shorrock and his dedicated team of workers and volunteers who protect one of England's rarest birds, the hen harrier.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

Natural World: The Bear Man of Kamchatka

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3.2 Million, 13.6% Audience Share
08/11/2006, BBC Two, 8pm

From The Times
The volcanic peninsula of Kamchatka in eastern Russia was declared a World Heritage Site ten years ago. It is an area of heart-stopping beauty, filled with volcanoes and geysers, pristine forests, lakes and salmon streams.

It is also home to the densest population of brown bears in the world. Charlie Russell, a 65-year-old Canadian from southern Alberta, spends seven months of the year living as a recluse in this magnificent wilderness, where he raises orphan bear cubs as their surrogate mother. "We're fearful of bears," he says, "because of the stories that have been passed down for centuries about how horrible these animals are. In truth, they're not horrible. They're incredibly wonderful." You only need to watch this bewitching programme to be convinced that he is right.
- David Chater

Web 2.0 Live Presentation - A broadcasters perspective

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Here are the slides from my recent presentation at Web2.0 Live.
A video podcast of all the talks will be available soon at the Web2.0 Live website:

I gave an overview of web2.0 (what ever that means) from the perspective of someone in the broadcasting community, what does it mean to our future, and how do I see the BBC facing it - projects I discussed included, BBC Connector, BBC Collect, Augmented Reality & BBCJam, Creative Archive, Springwatch and the BBC presence in Second Life and other virtual worlds.

Click on the image below to launch the slideshow:

Web 2.0 - a jolly jape with cheese

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This is an excellent overview of the Web 2.0 seminar I contributed to.
By Adam Stone of Rokkmedia.

7 November, 2006
I was lucky enough to blag a free ticket, ahem, attend a conference last night (6/11/06) in Taunton, Somerset concerning the topic of Web 2.0. Not only was my good friend and colleague Bill Wells (of 2.0 Ltd - I kid you not!) organising the video recording of the event (for future vidcast), but ‘podcast-rockstar’ Paul Boag ( - reputedly the worlds’ most subscribed-to web design podcast) - someone who has been hugely influential in Rokk Media adopting Web Standards some time ago, was one of the guest speakers (after I introduced him to the event) - so I think my complimentary ticket was well deserved!

The event was well attended, and probably one of the most professional I’ve been to in these here parts - so congrats to all involved.

The theme of the evening was the hot-topic de jour - “Web 2.0” buzz or bizz - hype-full or hope-less!

Speakers included Ben Hilton from Rubberductions, Simon Price from Bristol University (who demonstrated some amazing applications for gathering and interpreting web-based which he insisted was Web 1.5); and two very eloquent Pauls from the BBC - who showed some amazing web-based applications that the Beeb have been working on. Finally Paul Boag who took a swipe at the hype filling a very entertaining 20 minutes or so.

Most speakers, possibly with the exception of Simon, showed how Web 2.0 can be fairly neatly boxed into a huge take-up of broadband fuelling a massive growth in social network/communicate centric sites that use cool technologies like AJAX and Ruby On Rails (among others), and a clean, matter-of-fact design approach aimed at getting straight to the heart of the proposition. Paul Appleby from the BBC was also keen to point out that the web is Darwinian - evolving, gene-like, and could not therefore be realisticaly likened to a software application in the version x.0 mould - fair point Paul!

After the speakers concluded with a Q & A (a much nicer term than FAQ - what went wrong there in Web-lore?), a sumptious buffet of rustic fare was provided - apples, cheese, scones and strawberries - oh yes.

On my way back from the event, battling to keep from crossing lanes on the motor-way in a 3 foot visibility pea-souper, I mulled the wise words of the five speakers and something else occured to me. Thinking back to the eleven or so years that I’ve been involved in web design and development I can see a definite growth-curve emerging - but not so much with regards to the technology or appearance of sites (in fact I can probably show you a duplicate example of anything that exists today that emerged in a previous time). The growth I have seen, is in the understanding and appreciation that clients have for the Web - and how it can enhance and rocket-fuel their individual businesses.

Ten years ago - for example - you couldn’t give away a Web Site! In fact the bulk of our ‘hot prospects’ were “The Internet you say? Oh yes, heard of that - could you come over and show me what it looks like?”. Ten years later and the landscape couldn’t be more different. Clients come to us now knowing exactly what they want out of their web presence, fully aware of the power an online presence can have on their success of their business.

From our point of view this is fantastic. No longer do we have to go through the painful process of convincing our clients that the Web is the way to go!

For me that’s the real evolution of the Web.

Rokk on!

My "Web 2.0 Live" Presentation - A broadcasters perspective

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Here are the slides from my recent presentation at Web2.0 Live.
A video podcast of all the talks will be available soon at the Web2.0 Live website:

I gave an overview of web2.0 (what ever that means) from the perspective of someone in the broadcasting community, what does it mean to our future, and how do I see the BBC facing it - projects I discussed included, BBC Connector, BBC Collect, Augmented Reality & BBCJam, Creative Archive, Springwatch and the BBC presence in Second Life and other virtual worlds.

Click on the image below to launch the slideshow:

- Paul Williams

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Planet Eath: Ice Worlds

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BBC 1 Sunday 9pm (6 million, 23.5%)
BBC 2 Monday 7pm (2.5 million, 11.4%)

Are polar bears hot stuff at poker? Planet Earth is back in the Arctic to find out
From The Guardian - 06/11/2006

As the wedding guest at Cana said, most people keep the cheap booze until the end of the party when the guests are too bladdered to notice (I paraphrase St John slightly), but Planet Earth (Sunday, BBC1) kept the best till the last.

It was the end of the Ice Worlds episode, during the diary section, which shows the struggling human beings behind the camera. Doug and Jason were sitting down to supper in a bleached wood hut in Kong Karis Land. Now, say what you like but a name like that, Kong Karis Land, does not fill you with confidence. It is in the Norwegian Arctic and has not been visited by humans for 25 years. I am not altogether surprised.

Doug said suddenly, "I thought I heard something." (For years I have been trying to persuade the BBC to give us some good ghost stories. They made up for it now.) A face appeared at the window. It looked like an enormous snowman - solid, white, compacted - with two pieces of coal for eyes. It pressed its big, black, boxing glove of a nose to the glass, melting the frost like a child rubbing a circle in the pane to see better. I have heard that polar bears are peculiarly dangerous because their face is a fixed mask. You cannot tell what they are thinking. They would be hot stuff at poker. I'm not sure this is totally true. This bear was clearly curious. Not angry. Not hungry. Nosy. It is a face that stays with you, like snow made flesh.

Earlier we saw a polar bear swimming slowly through black seas. It swam on for two days, looking for a seal to eat. Starving and weak, it smelled a huge herd of walrus, the largest and best-armoured of all seals. Pulling itself on to the ice, it waited, eyelids drooping, for its strength to return. Then, under cover of fog, it attacked a billowy, black, blubbery backside, trying to prise a walrus away from her young. And failed. And tried again. And failed. Gored and exhausted, within sight and smell of that tremendous fish supper, it lay down to die. It didn't make a big deal about death. It just curled up like a pup and slept.

You do feel the crew could have chucked it a kipper. As global warming has already disturbed the balance of nature, it may be time to rewrite the rule that natural history programmes can observe but must never interfere. In the Antarctic, Frederique, a field assistant, had no hesitation in helping an emperor penguin chick out of a hole, quite literally, saying endearingly, "Come on! Grab my hand! Out you come chicken!" We have reached the point where nature does need a helping hand.
- Nancy Banks-Smith

Friday, 3 November 2006

Search for Mountain Lions with Gordon Buchanan

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Sunday 5th November, 5.30pm

Only a handful of people on Earth have ever seen a wild mountain lion. Award-winning cameraman Gordon Buchanan takes up the challenge not only to find one of these elusive big cats, but also to see how they hunt. In his search Gordon travels to the far tip of South America, high into the spectacular Andean mountains and endures all night stakeouts in the freezing sub-Antarctic conditions. Eventually, in the pitch black, he comes face to face with a huge lion…it’s at this point he discovers exactly how they hunt.

Producer - Jonny Keeling
Series Producer - Wendy Darke
Executive Producer - Vyv Simson

Natural World: Eye for an Elephant

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2.8 million, 12% Audience Share
01.11.06, BBC 2 8pm

Picks of the day from The Daily Express:
Natural World: Eye For An Elephant, 8pm, BBC2 The African elephant is the biggest land creature in the world, and wildlife photographer Martyn Colbeck has spent the best part of two decades studying them. The result is this magnificent film, in which he captures elephants at work and play.

Memorable moments include the rare sight of two bulls fighting, and a night-time birth, watched by the rest of the family. Colbeck also observes desert elephants in Namibia and forest elephants in the Congo.

Especially touching is the powerful image of a mother elephant grieving for her dead calf. We learn that elephants 'cry' at times of intense emotion, because glands near their eyes stream when they're unhappy.

Wild Thing I love you: Adders

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Channel 4, Sunday, 4:55 - 5:55pm
(1.1 million, 7% Audience Share)

From the Radio Times
Wildlife series in which Bill Bailey and a team of experts try to rescue some of the UK's most vulnerable animals by investigating the causes and engineering solutions. A significant number of adders are at risk from the widening of the A74 road in Cumbria, and Bill and his team must come up with a strategy to help these increasingly rare snakes. Naturally there are plenty of problems that have to be overcome, including Bill's fear of the reptiles…