Belfast Telegraph

TV viewers praise BBC camera crew for rescuing trapped penguins

The documentary team took the rare step of intervening in the scenes they were filming.

TV viewers have praised a BBC film crew that came to the rescue of trapped penguins they were filming in Antarctica.

The team capturing footage for the Sir David Attenborough series Dynasties took the rare decision to help out Emperor penguins stuck in a ravine.

Their actions went against the usual stance of nature documentary makers not to intervene in the scenes they are filming.

“That camera crew deserved MBE’s for saving them penguins #Dynasties,” wrote one viewer on Twitter.

Another tweeted: “Amazing. Right decision guys intervening to save the penguins. What an amazing film. What an amazing brave crew. #Dynasties”

“The crewmen are amazing amazing humans Bravo #Dynasties,” said another Twitter user.

Behind the scenes footage broadcast after the emotional second episode of Dynasties on Sunday revealed the harsh conditions the TV crew faced in Antarctica.

The programme tracked a colony of emperor penguins in Atka Bay battling to survive and breed in the cruellest winter on earth.

Director Will Lawson, director of photography Lindsay McCrae and camera assistant Stefan Christmann spent 337 days on the icy continent, working in -60C temperatures and 100kph plus winds.

On one occasion following a storm, the team discovered several penguin mothers and their chicks had become cut off from the colony in a ravine.

They filmed harrowing footage of mothers battling to drag their chicks up the sheer slope, some making the terrible choice to abandon their baby.

The crew returned two days later and decided to build a stepped ramp that helped the remaining penguins climb to safety.

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Cameraman Lindsay McCrae and field assistant Stefan Christmann filming the Emperor penguin colony from a jib in Atka Bay, Antarctica. (BBC/PA)

Praise was heaped on the team on social media.

“The film crew braving the conditions to get such high quality footage and then helping some of the penguins to survive is absolutely amazing #Dynasties,” said one tweeter.

“The penguins really have a rough time so pleased the camera crew helped the ones that were stuck #Dynasties,” said another.

Before the episode aired, Mr Lawson defended the decision to take the rare step and intervene in the penguins’ welfare

“You can only react to the facts in front of you,” he told the Times.

“We knew we were the only other animal there. There was no animal benefiting from the demise of these penguins. It was only going to end one way.”

Mike Gunton, creative director at the BBC’s natural history unit, also backed the crew’s actions.

He told the Times: “I think it was the right thing to do. If people knew that we had the opportunity to do that and we hadn’t done that, I think that would be much more difficult to answer.”

Last week, viewers were moved to tears as Sir David’s new series debuted on BBC One.

People tuning in said they were moved by the story of chimpanzee David, an alpha male fighting to hold on to his position with rivals all around him.

The next episode of Dynasties, which follows the fortunes of a pride of Lions, will be shown on BBC One at 8pm on November 25.

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