Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 24 May 2016

The bare truth about that fake candid camera

By Lindy McDowell

Published 15/12/2011

As if there aren't enough conspiracy theories rattling round about alleged fixes on the TV talent shows, this week comes the revelation that the BBC has, as one paper put it, 'faked Frozen Planet'.

With our weather, you'd wonder, why would they have to?

It turns out though, it was the wildlife, not the thermometer, that was playing up. Scenes featuring a polar bear and her cub were shot in the relative safety and comfort of a German zoo enclosure not, as viewers might have imagined, in the barren waste of Arctic tundra.

True, audiences may have felt duped by this particular sequence.

But in defence a programme maker points out - not unreasonably, I think - that attempts to film the real thing in the wild were considered a no-no since there was a fair chance that the bear would have killed the cub.

Or killed the cameraman.

The real failing seems to be that the Beeb didn't actually flag up that the amazing close-up scene of hibernating mother and cub was actually filmed by hidden camera previously installed in a specially constructed "nest".

It was what Crimewatch would label a reconstruction.

Surely the most surprising aspect of it all however, is that in our current era of Health and Safety obsession such documentaries are ever made at all?

How long before even the zoo scenes are deemed too dangerous? (The workman could have nicked his finger installing that hidden camera, for example.)

How long before the Frozen Planets are entirely frozen out?

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