Catch up TV review: The Queen’s Green Planet, The Secret Life of the Zoo, One Born Every Minute
James R | On 22, Apr 2018
The Secret Life of the Zoo (All 4)
Channel 4’s delightful series looking behind the scenes at Chester Zoo is back for a fifth season, and it starts with something closer to First Dates than Animal Hospital. We drop in on Orangutan sisters Emma and Subis, who are pregnant by male Puluh, and gaze endearingly at chameleons Charles and Eddie, as they try to impress a new female arrival, Ruby. Best of all, though, are the two meerkats trying to mate, but their family planning is disrupted by the introduction of two new aardvarks to their pen. There are fascinating insights into the way animals court and behave – it turns out that showing a chameleon a mirror will make him think a rival is next to him and perk his colours right up – and no end of cute footage, but what also shines through is the care the zoo workers have for these creatures, as they carefully craft a new bedroom for the meerkats away from their long-nosed new friends. Insightful, sweet and boasting impressive levels of access, this is cracking viewing for nature fans – any series that begins with “the aardvarks are making the new meerkats anxious” is a good thing.
One Born Every Minute (All 4)
Every human life starts off as a tiny miracle, even as life itself tries its best to make that miracle as complicated as possible. Somewhere in between the two sits Channel 4’s charming documentary sees, which takes us inside Birmingham Women’s Hospital for an intimate look at the arrival of new babies into this world. It’s a dramatic time already, without the need for added drama, and the series does well to give us a strong dose of human interest from a tactful distance, so we never feel like we’re crowding people out or the filmmakers are contriving something artificial. We meet veterans Dawn and Scott, now onto baby number eight, and Sarah and Tom, a couple whose 11-year age gap hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm or care for each other, as they await their second kid. Concerns, worries, and tears abound – but it’s testament to both life and the programme’s carefully uplifting tone, that they are usually tears of joy. Get a pack of tissues and prepare for some moving, joyous viewing; after a heavy day at work, this universal slice of everyday miracles is like letting in an hour of sunshine.
The Queen’s Green Planet (ITV Hub)
Just when you think you’v got your dream True Detective Season 4 partnership sorted, along comes an unlikely contender: Queen Elizabeth and Sir David Attenborough. They team up for this one-off documentary to highlight the Queen’s passionate work in the Commonwealth Canopy project, a scheme that sees trees planted in the 53 member countries – a network of joint commitment to the environment. We see Princes William and Harry abroad championing the initiative, as well as a segment featuring an impressive, eloquent and earnest Angelina Jolie. The highlights, though, are undoubtedly seeing Her Maj and Sir Dave simply chatting about trees, as they stroll through the Buckingham Palace gardens, the Queen joking about one that looks worse for wear and Dave bending down ungainly to read all the little plaques. As a glimpse of the Queen being relaxed and humourous, it’s likeable, lightweight viewing. As a reminder of the need to pass on care for the environment to future generations, it’s inspiring. As a pilot for the talk show you never knew you wanted, it’s essential viewing.