Is it just me, or did the BBC go out of its way to find ridiculous contestants for its ‘Wildest Dreams’ programme? In case you haven’t seen it, the premise is this: nine ‘ordinary people’ were flown out to Africa to learn the skills of wildlife film-making, facing a different challenge each week, with the worst performer being sent home.
I’m a little bitter because I would have loved to be on the show myself (I certainly didn’t see the adverts, did you?) but I can’t think where on earth they dug up this motly crew.
In Week One, there was Sardia, the mum from east London who couldn’t have been less interested in the wildlife if she tried.
Then there was George whose main claim to fame, according to the narrator, was that he happened to go to public school. Well done, George.
Until this week. there was also Lucy, who seemed a bit more clued-up, but then she does hold a zoology degree. I bet half the students on zoology courses want to get into wildlife films – it was hardly outside the realms of possibility, unlike for factory-worker Alan from Rotherham.
Alan seems a nice chap, but you couldn’t sit through a whole hour of his Joe Pasquale voice-over.
There’s also Sherilynn, who’s afraid of heights and cannot swim. Unfortunately, rather a lot of wildlife lives up trees or in the sea, so she was always going to struggle. Amazingly, she’s still in the running after Week Six, and next week the judges will be deciding between her, Alan, and Anna.
Which brings me onto judge/presenter Nick Knowles himself.
I like Nick Knowles. I enjoy DIY SOS. But he knows as much about wildlife as I imagine David Attenborough knows (or cares) about Medium Density Fibreboard.
There are tonnes of well-known wildlife presenters who could have done it – Steve Leonard, Charlotte Uhlenbroek, Chris Packham. Even Kate Humble and Ben Fogle off Animal Park could claim some prior exposure to the wildlife of Africa, even if only in the cages at Longleat.
Perhaps the BBC will economise on airfare by getting Knowles to film a ‘DIY SOS Africa’ while he’s out there. There’s bound to be a few mud huts with wonky shelves that need fixing.