If you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps now that the BBC’s brilliant wildlife documentary series The Hunt has come to an end, you don’t have to wait too long for another dose of BBC-produced natural history documentation. Their next venture which is called Snow Chick – A Penguin’s Tale will be shown on BB1 this side of Christmas Day. While legendary naturalist David Attenborough will be taking a break from this one, he is leaving narration duties in the capable hands (voice?) of Oscar-winning actor Kate Winslet.
As the title implies, Snow Chick – A Penguin’s Tale follows the misadventures of a juvenile emperor penguin. As they are one of the few creatures capable of surviving in the harsh conditions of the Antarctic (with temperatures that can go as low as -60ºC), the lives lived by emperor penguins are not exactly easy. Snow Chick follows one young penguin in particular, which has gotten separated form its parents and must embark on a perilous journey, having close frightful encounters not only with hungry predators, but also other members of his own species which would do him harm if left to their own devices.
The BBC website describes Snow Chick as “An enchanting and action-packed dramatised Christmas treat”. The inclusion of the word ‘dramatised’ here is somewhat worrisome as it implies that Snow Chick may not fully be a documentary – which might explain why David Attenborough is not involved with the project. As shows like The Hunt prove so well, there is little need to ‘dramatise’ that which occurs in nature as the stories which unfold there tend to be far more spectacular and awe-inspiring than anything the imaginations of humans can contrive. Hopefully Snow Chick can resist the urge to try and ‘improve’ nature by adding in fallacies the same way March of the Penguins did in 2005 (scandalously winning an Oscar for doing so) or, worse again, cheapening the entire affair by dumbing things down and giving the animals annoying voices like in Walking With Dinosaurs 3D.
Will Snow Chick – A Penguin’s Tale live up to its BBC nature documentary predecessors or will it drag the BBC’s reputation through the muddy snow? We will find out when it airs on BBC1 on Wednesday, December 23rd at 8:30pm.