TV programmes about wildlife have that unique ability to capture the imagination of just about anyone of any age. How many times have you flicked idly through the TV channels and then found yourself hooked, if only for ten minutes, on a documentary about migrating wildebeest?
If you are of a certain age, then you will remember that the BBC had a long running kids show about wildlife called Animal Magic, hosted by the inimitable Johnny Morris and Terry Nutkins. That show sadly came to an end in 1983 when the BBC thought it was no longer relevant to kids, but it took them three years to come up with a suitable animal related replacement programme.
In 1986 the first series of The Really Wild Show was launched. Featuring Animal Magic’s Terry Nutkins, Chris Packham (now a fairly key part of the BBC’s Natural History unit, although sadly now minus the amazing spikey hair do) and Nicola Davies as presenters, it has to be said that the wait was probably worth it, as the new show certainly felt a lot more modern and in tune with what kids now expected to see on TV.
The Really Wild Show was filmed in a studio, with an audience of kids visible on camera behind the presenters. Animals would be brought in and the presenters would first let you know a bit about the creatures in question, before, in most cases, letting some lucky members of the audience come and have a closer look.
The good thing about the programme was that they tried to bring you some animals you had never heard of before. If I hadn’t seen it on the Really Wild Show I would not believe there was such a thing as a Sea Cucumber, let alone that it’s natural defence mechanism was to shoot out its guts when attacked. Ergh! I’ve always appreciated the fact they even demonstrated this by attempting to pick one up out of a tank of water.
Sadly the BBC have now seen fit to axe the Really Wild Show, and it came to an end in 2006. That means it still managed to last a very respectable 20 years (even though it has been through a number of presenters and format shake ups in the process) which puts it almost on a par with Animal Magic. I have to say though that it makes me feel a little old, since I remember tuning in to the first series…