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Frozen Planet Fakery


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I am really interested in this news story, having enjoyed the BBC's Frozen Planet in all it's beauty, I was surprised to see the news yesterday whereby the BBC and Sir David Attenborough had admitted falsifying certain scenes.

For example exert from the Guardian below:

The BBC One programme showed footage of a mother bear nursing twin cubs.

But while Sir David's narration referred to cubs being born "beneath the snow" and was intercut with genuine scenes of polar bears in the Arctic, the footage was shot in a man-made den in a city zoo.

What appeared to be snow on the floor of the den was actually woodchip.

The scenes were filmed at Ouwehands Animal Park in the Netherlands (not Germany, as previously reported).

The mother was a captive polar bear named Huggies, who was taken from the wilds of Siberia at five months and placed in captivity. She was named by her sponsor, Kimberley-Clark, the nappies manufacturer.

Sir David's comments regarding the situation:

Sir David said it was right that the programme disguised the origins of the footage because telling the truth would “ruin the atmosphere” for viewers.

He told ITV1's This Morning: “During the middle of this scene, when you’re trying to paint what it’s like in the middle of winter in the Pole, do you say, ‘Oh, by the way, this is filmed in a zoo?’

“It would completely ruin the atmosphere and destroy the pleasure of the viewers. It’s not a falsehood.

“How far do you take this? ‘This is a penguin but actually it’s a different penguin colony than we did for that one’ - come on. We’re making movies.”

Sir David added that it would have been impossible for a camera crew to film a polar bear giving birth in the wild. “If you had tried to put a camera in a polar bear mother’s den, she would either have killed the cub or she’d have killed the cameraman, one or the other. So it’s out of the question.”

The specially-constructed den in the programme was fitted with remote cameras linked to a webcam.

However, the film-makers made no mention of this in the segment at the end of the episode explaining how the programme was made.

Animal welfare connotations:

Animal welfare charities criticised the programme for using bears in captivity.

Will Travers, chief executive of the Born Free Foundation, said: "The question is: would the film have been any less marvellous, astounding and sensational if that scene had been omitted? I doubt it.

"But sadly, as it stands, the public may be wondering whether there are any other sequences that are not quite what they seem.

"And millions of viewers were left with the feeling that the cubs were about to embark on a life in the wild, with all its adventures and challenges, when sadly their future is one of confinement and frustration.

"Ultimately it is these young bears who are being let down."

What do you guys think?

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I think its over the top Laura, 99.9% of the scenes were real and people forget the work that goes into filming this stuff.

My mate has been out with the team twice this year to film the next big series on North America, he is a storm chaser and went out to help film the scenes.

He had the pleasure of sitting on a long haul flight with the directors etc and some of the stories he came back with were eye opening. They are all mostly divorced as they spend time away fom 6 to 12 months, he was saying that they went out to a desert to film these land crabs that only ever came out when it rained, they waited 6 months and nothing! A suggestion was made to create a scene of fake rain just to get them out but this was rejected straight away and they packedup and came home.

This is not even a story in my opinion. I have the preview to the north america show on my PC and it looks amazing.

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BBC nature documentaries have been fliming in studios, in front of blue screens, using animals in captivity for years. Its nothing new or anything to be concerned about. As long as it depicts real behaviour then who cares how it was filmed.

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It's interesting to know how they filmed it Laura, in the same way as during the last 5/10 mins of the programme they show how that episode was made and the difficulties they encountered etc.

But it's the way the arse rag newspapers got hold of it and used it to slate the programme that narks me, that's what I meant as a 'non story'.

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not really surprised, when they showed the freeze frame bit that showed the plants being grown in a factory unit because it was the only way they could control i light i wondered what else they have mocked up

then i thought bollocks to it its an amazing show regardless

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Imagine my outrage when I watched a documentary on Agincourt on TV the other night and found out that not a single Frenchman was harmed during it's making ....

seriously , I just think some people have too much time on their hands , Frozen planet is supposed to be educational and in that regard it achieves its goals ...

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As others have said this is fuss about nothing IMHO.

The whole series was such a wonderful spectacle who cares if a couple of scenes of a female Polar Bear den with newborn cubs, were shot in a Zoo?!

It was the conservation/environmental message behind the series that was surely THE STORY!

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I agree, it's an amazing show regardless, but I feel slightly misled as a viewer. As far as I am concerned it's a wildlife show and as such if something is replicated in order to show the viewer something that would otherwise be impossible to film, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but why not mention it?

The annoying thing for me was that the BBC spokesperson made a point of saying that the commentary was given specifically so as not to misled. It was subtle and as such they've been clever and had offcom in mind when scripting it, which feels a touch manipulative IMO.

When I watch something on a wildlife program, I believe it is a natural occurrence in a natural setting. Now knowing that in this instance that is not the case, I feel slightly sucked in and I don't like that feeling. It makes me wonder what else has been falsified when all they have to do is plan the language in order to not fall foul of any offcom rules with regards to the broadcast.

Personally, I think the show is wonderful. I would just prefer the BBC to be upfront with viewers about certain aspects that may have been filmed somewhere other than in the wild when I am watching a wildlife program.

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