I know a lot of you are anxious for news of when or if Big Cat Diary will be re-commisioned. Here is what I know at present.
While there is still some talk of BCD being re-commissioned at some stage there is considerable debate as to how it might work in practice. One problem is that BBC1 does not have a slot for the traditional Diary formats right now – the old way of stripping the Diary-type series across a single week each night at 7.00pm simply isn’t possible right now – and it hasn’t been for somewhile – as there is no room in the current schedule for this kind of Event. This is a big frustration for programme makers working on a series as it seems that it is not uncommon for a series to be shown on different times from one programme to the next – far from ideal, and very frustrating for the audience trying to follow a series.
There was definitely considerable resistance to a new series a year or so ago – despite strong support for the series
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Seems that there may be life in the old cat yet. Not so long ago people were saying that Big Cat Diary had maybe run its course – 12 years is a long time on TV for any series – but there is now talk that we may well get the chance to film a new series of Big Cat in the summer of 2011. What a buzz we will all get if that turns out to be the case. Not counting our chickens yet though we would be amazed if the BBC let a Brand like this simply fade from our screens. Have a feeling that we will be going back to something resembling the old format for Big Cat – not live – but then who needs live when everything is recorded ‘in the moment’.
The Bird Fair coincided with the launch of our latest book Stars of Big Cat Diary (Evans Mitchell Books) which celebrates 12 years of the popular television series that I present with Simon King and Saba Douglas-Hamilton. Angie and I were delighted with the design and printing and were able to sign copies of the book at the Bird Fair – and at a number of other functions organized to promote the book during our stay in the UK. We were delighted to make an appearance on BBC Breakfast Television and meet up again with Kate Silverton our co-presenter from Big Cat Live, and our evening talk at the Garrick Theatre for the Lichfield Camera Club was a full house. Our old friends and traveling companions Peter and Grace Mason helped organize our stay for this event and once again welcomed us to their home for the night.
It has been such a pleasure for Angie and I to work on our latest book Stars of Big Cat Diary (BCD) for Evans Mitchell Publishers. The book should be in the shops in early September 2009 – so hopefully that should be one Christmas gift you can tick off your list (it is targeted to retail at GBP 19.99). It is packed with new insights in to the making of BCD with lots of snippets of gossip about life in the field and back at our tented camp along the Mara River which is outfitted for us by Governor’s Camp where we were based during the filming of Big Cat Live. Angie and I decided to write the book to celebrate the past 12 years in the history of BCD, focusing on the star big cats that we have come to know over the years – and to work with Simon King and Saba Douglas-Hamilton and our friends and colleagues from Production – Editors, Cameramen, Soundmen and Producers – to make the book an inclusive look at what has
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Sometimes life just gets the better of you, which it certainly has these past few weeks. Where to begin? All kinds of exciting things have been happening. We have completed our latest children’s book for HarperCollins called On Safari which outlines what life is like for Angie and me when we are on safari taking photographs and working on our books. It is a lot of fun and is our seventh title in the children’s series. We are about to set off for a month long safari to India – yes, we know it is going to be very hot but it will be good for tigers because they will be getting hot too and hopefully decide to hang out at the nearest water hole to keep cool. We are working on a new childrens book in India and at the end of the year we will be visiting Oman again to write a children’s book on life there. And we will be looking at all the best places to visit in India (its one of our favourite destinations) so that we can be sure to offer a really exciting safari there next year – why not join us on that adventure in 2010.
We are just putting the final touches to Stars of Big Cat Diary – a celebration of 12 years of Big Cat in words and pictures in association with Simon King and Saba Doughlas-Hamilton. There will be lots of Angie’s stunning images and lots of behind the scenes info on the series too, plus an update on all the big cat stars.The book should be in the shops by September and we will be promoting it at a number of events in the UK in late August. We will be at the Bird Fair in Rutland from 21 to 23 August as guests of Swarovski and giving three illustrated talks over that period, and speaking at the Lichfield Camera Club on the evening of the 24 August.
I just spent a week in the Mara filming an episode of a new reality show called To The Ends Of The Earth presented by Nick Knowles with James Honeyborne of the BBC Natural History Unit. More on that later but Shakira and her three daughters were all doing fine, as were Honey’s Boys, also Notch and his younger relatives down on Paradise Plain – all in fine form.
More from us tomorrow. Got to go to bed – its nearly 11.30pm and got an early start tomorrow in Nairobi
Wow is all I can say. Our latest safari to the Mara was sensational. Not only were we blessed with wonderful weather, the game viewing was superb. But then there is always something amazing happening in the Mara. The big cats performed to perfection. We saw our old friend Notch with some of his sons on Paradise Plain, the Marsh Pride with White Eye leading the way in the Marsh, the Three Graces with two four month old cubs (might be a tad older than that), Shakira and her three daughters, Honey’s Boys, Olive (Bella’s daughter) and her son Khali, Olive’s daughter Binty – it just goes on – and that is without telling you what they were up to. We were hosting a 12 person safari and photoworkshop with our good friend cameraman Warren Samuels and staying at Rekero Camp. Jackson Ole Looseyia my fellow Presenter on Big Cat Live joined us for the trip which was a real bonus. Jackson is a co-owner of Rekero with Gerrard and Rainey Beaton and what a fine job they are doing. More later.
I’m off to Mara again on Saturday 21 Feb for four days working on a BBC Natural World TV programme on leopards worldwide with cameraman Warren Samuels and Producer Mark Fletcher.
Drive back to Nairobi on 26 Feb and then fly daylight to UK on 27 Feb in time for the Travellers’ Tales Festival at the Royal Geographical Society in London over the weekend of 28 Feb/1 March. Why not join us there – great speakers on travel, travel writing, photography and cinematography. Should be amazing and a great way of networking for anyone interested in these disciplines as a career or who simply loves to look and great photographs and hear a good yarn.
Angie and I are madly working on the Stars of Big Cat Diary book – have to finish that by end of March so there are going to be some late nights with that. Like now!
It always takes us a while to come down off the high of working on Big Cat – and the Live series was no exception – so much adrenalin pumping during those few weeks that it is quite a dip when we pull the tent pegs and head back to our home in Nairobi. But as always great to see our family of four dogs and Little Cat – she is such a wild little thing at heart and just loves to be out on her garden patrol – she is the consummate predator and our birds and squirrels have to be on their toes to avoid becoming her next victim. She has that typical cat habit of bringing her prey in to the house to show them off to us – and on one occasion she dropped a snake at the foot of the bed – some wake up call!
So it is finally over – but hopefully not the last of the Big Cat Diary lineage – Big Cat Live certainly took the series to a new high and we all were so excited at the response from our audience. Big Cat Raw – the website – proved to be an enormous success – and it brought a totally new interactive element to Big Cat that tens of thousands of people enjoyed – particularly the live stream of video images from the webcams. The website is going to be up indefinitely – but without the webcams – so you can all still enjoy posting your messages as far as we know.
The debate has already started – and it has been ongoing since even before we went Live – everyone wants to know if there will be more Big Cat next year or in the future – will it go Live again or back to Big Cat Week – or will the BBC allow it to fade away. Well I think you can imagine that everyone involved with the series thinks Continue Reading »
Yesterday was a really tough day for the Cheetah Team. We were all on a high after doing the first of our live transmissions from the Masai Mara for Big Cat Live the previous evening – the 5 October. The storm clouds had suddenly lifted, the stars and a new moon appeared just before our broadcast, and as if to wish us good luck the Marsh Lions began to roar on cue captured live on our night vision infrared cameras. My fellow presenter Kate Silverton who hosts Breakfast television in the UK and is a news reader and broadcaster is
anchoring our live shows over the next week. To celebrate we had decided to visit our cheetah family – Shakara and her 5 ten-week-old-cubs – the following morning to see how they were doing. But as we approached one of our game spotters Chris Brennan came on the radio – all our cars are fitted with radios so we can keep track of Continue Reading »
We are all very excited about our first live broadcast tonight on BBC1 at 6.10pm. And last night we went live online to the Big Cat Live website after our rehersal for program one.
It is raining but spirits are still high – this is the time of the year when we expect our short rains from mid-October through to December. But the Mara often gets thunder storms in the dry season and it is the rains that make this such a great place for wildlife.
Our cheetah family is still intact – all five cubs are alive (though Shakara did lose a sixth cub some while ago due to an attack by a herd of buffalo). The cubs are visibly growing by the day and are getting very mobile – they dash off in all directions if danger threatens and simply disappear into the grass. Shakara has had at least Continue Reading »