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Frozen Planet scandal: Sir David Attenborough defends fake polar bear footage
Daily Mirror (UK) ^ | 12/13/2011 | Simon Boyle

Posted on 12/13/2011 7:21:19 AM PST by Mount Athos

SIR David Attenborough yesterday defended Frozen Planet’s fake polar bear footage – by comparing BBC nature documentaries to movies.

In a surprising justification for duping millions of viewers, the TV star argued that owning up to splicing archive film with real Arctic scenes during the programme would have spoiled the mood.

His blunt remarks came as more footage from the series was exposed as a sham.

Speaking after our exclusive story yesterday revealed shots of a polar bear and her newborn cubs were staged in a zoo using fake snow, Sir David, 85, said: “The question is, during the middle of this scene when you are trying to paint what it is like in the middle of winter at the pole, to say ‘Oh, by the way, this was filmed in a zoo’.

“It ruins the atmosphere, and destroys the pleasure of the viewers and destroys the atmosphere you are trying to create.

“It’s not a falsehood and we don’t keep it secret either. But to say actually in the middle of that sequence, I mean how far do you take this?

“Do you say this is a penguin, but actually it was a different penguin colony than this one and this one is a different one? Come on, we were making movies.”

It yesterday emerged BBC producers also misled viewers about footage of a frozen caterpillar in hit seven-part series Frozen Planet.

In an episode on November 2, Sir David said: “Beneath the rock the caterpillar is out of the wind, but the cold penetrates deep into the ground.

“Soon it’s heart stops beating, it ceases to breathe, and it’s body starts to freeze – first it’s gut, then it’s blood.”

The footage included a wide shot of the caterpillar’s natural habitat above ground, and a close-up of the creature beginning to freeze underneath snow and ice.

But some of it was actually filmed in an artificial habitat – in fact, a box.

Another scene involving snowflakes forming at close range was also set up and produced in a controlled environment using time-lapse photography.

The BBC admitted: “There’s a sequence with snowflakes which is set up – it’s filmed in a controlled situation, so they can get really close footage. And there’s another section with a woolly caterpillar, but the vast majority of it is filmed in the wild.”

In a further blow to wildlife fans, corporation bosses yesterday confessed that staging footage was standard ­practice in natural history programmes. They insisted such editing tricks were necessary to create the ­documentaries, and added the programme met the expected editorial standards.

A spokesman said: “While the great majority of footage for Frozen Planet is filmed entirely in the wild, on occasion certain sequences need to be filmed in controlled conditions – otherwise we wouldn’t be able to bring these stories to our audiences.

“This type of filming is standard practice across the industry when creating natural history programmes.”

The spokesperson added the narration was carefully worded so as not to mislead ­audiences – and the details of the zoo footage was explained on the BBC’s website.

But last night Mediawatch hit out at the corporation’s excuse. Vivienne Pattison said: “I’m sorry, but it’s a bit pathetic to argue that the details were available on the website. How many people would have looked at it?

“It would have done them no harm to explain how they did the filming at the end of the episode where they give viewers a look behind the scenes. Viewers are grown up, they would understand why it could not have been done in the wild.”

Sir David said filming a bears’ nest in the wilderness would have been too dangerous. He told ITV’s This Morning: “If you had tried to put a camera in the wild in a polar bear den, mother’s den, she would have either killed the cub or the cameraman, one or the other. I mean, it is out of the question.”

Last night the BBC refused to disclose the precise location and name of the Dutch zoo where the filming took place.

A spokeswoman would only say: “It’s not set up to be deluged with calls from the media.”

Frozen Planet, watched by an average 8.7 million viewers, has been sold to more than 30 countries.

Jim Shelley - verdict

NO ONE wants to criticise Sir David Attenborough, given the amazing television he has made and the work he's done to preserve wildlife and educate us about the way we are destroying the planet.

But in the case of Polar Beargate, he would be better to recognise that what he and the BBC did was duplicitous and simply apologise.

The dodgy footage was the most touching scene in Episode Five of Frozen Planet - watched by some eight million trusting viewers.

The pictures would have been NO LESS remarkable if Sir David had simply mentioned that they were effectively library footage, shot in what we now know was a German animal park.

After all, as he pointed out on This Morning: "If you put a camera in the wild in a polar bear den, she would either have killed the cub or she would have killed the cameraman." He could have easily explained this at the time. It is disingenuous to claim that this would have spoiled the atmosphere and to argue that the BBC "did not keep it secret".

Attenborough's voiceover for the footage sighed in wonder: "On these slopes beneath the snow, new lives are beginning.

"The cubs are born blind and tiny. In two more months polar bear families will emerge on the snowy slopes all around the Arctic... but for now they lie protected within their icy cocoons."

This is clearly misleading. And viewers will be disappointed to find out that Sir David is yet another TV presenter they cannot totally trust.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: bbc
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1 posted on 12/13/2011 7:21:27 AM PST by Mount Athos
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To: Mount Athos
"SIR David Attenborough yesterday defended Frozen Planet’s fake polar bear footage – by comparing BBC nature documentaries to movies"

Then we should treat them as movies. In other words, fiction....
2 posted on 12/13/2011 7:26:31 AM PST by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Mount Athos

Environmentalists got caught in a lie?
Shocked. Just shocked and saddened.

(it worked for Al gore)


3 posted on 12/13/2011 7:27:12 AM PST by Notwithstanding (1998 ACU ratings: Newt=100%, Paul=88%, Santorum=84% [the last year all were in Congress])
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To: steelyourfaith

Pesky polar bear ping


4 posted on 12/13/2011 7:27:22 AM PST by Fractal Trader
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To: Mount Athos

Yes Mr Attenboro we know all Environmental wacko stuff is fantasy.


5 posted on 12/13/2011 7:27:54 AM PST by marty60
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To: Mount Athos

It’s OK when Lefties lie, because the ends justifies the means.


6 posted on 12/13/2011 7:30:41 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (Holding our flawed politicians to higher standards than the enemy’s politicians guarantees they win)
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To: Mount Athos
This isn't really that big of a deal to me. I've known for a while now that animal programs use different tricks to enhance the experience. Not sure if it's done in every show, but I heard a long time ago that the sounds of the wild are put in later. As long as they are recreating things that actually happen in nature, I don't have a problem with it.

The things that bother me are when they crop a photo (or edit a film), like the famous polar bears on ice, to make it look like they are stuck at sea. Misleading for an agenda is wrong. If that was what Sir David was doing, then I can't be for that.

7 posted on 12/13/2011 7:33:27 AM PST by beaversmom
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To: Mount Athos; Berlin_Freeper; SolitaryMan; golux; SteamShovel; Bockscar; Thunder90; rdl6989; ...
 


Beam me to Planet Gore !

8 posted on 12/13/2011 7:35:35 AM PST by steelyourfaith (If it's "green" ... it's crap !!!)
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To: Mount Athos

Fake but accurate. The UK’s Dan Rather!


9 posted on 12/13/2011 7:35:39 AM PST by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: Fractal Trader

Thanx for the ping Fractal Trader. I was distracted in the midst of being possibly the first respondent on this thread,


10 posted on 12/13/2011 7:38:06 AM PST by steelyourfaith (If it's "green" ... it's crap !!!)
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To: beaversmom

“The things that bother me are when they crop a photo (or edit a film), like the famous polar bears on ice, to make it look like they are stuck at sea.”

Yes, and then there was the woman who said SHE took the picture and it was spring when the ice always melts, and the polar bear and cub were within swimming distance of the ice floe.


11 posted on 12/13/2011 7:39:38 AM PST by kitkat (Obama, rope and chains)
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To: Mount Athos

algore has requested the next polar bear filming in Florida with palm trees, white sand, and beach chairs.


12 posted on 12/13/2011 7:39:49 AM PST by Proud2BeRight
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To: Mount Athos

Episode Seven has Attenborough on camera destroying his reputation and destroying his legacy. He does so fully conscious of his chosen actions and fully aware that he is repeating extremist sensationalist propaganda that has no scientific basis.

The underwater episode footage is just absolutely amazing.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8923287/Lord-Lawson-accuses-Sir-David-Attenborough-of-sensationalism.html


13 posted on 12/13/2011 7:40:37 AM PST by JerseyHighlander
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To: Mount Athos

“Soon it’s heart stops beating, it ceases to breathe, and it’s body starts to freeze – first it’s gut, then it’s blood.”

Then it’s apostrophes reach critical mass and million’s of them burst forth from it’s brains.


14 posted on 12/13/2011 7:41:38 AM PST by Lady Lucky ( Merry Christmas to all)
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To: Lady Lucky

Lol...nice retort, Lady...:)


15 posted on 12/13/2011 7:46:45 AM PST by EnigmaticAnomaly ("Mantra of the left: 'It's only okay when WE do it.'")
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To: Lady Lucky

Dittos. It must be painful to be so stupid as to not know the difference between “its” (possessive) and “it’s” (contraction of “it is”).


16 posted on 12/13/2011 7:47:05 AM PST by hsalaw
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To: Mount Athos

David Attenborough seems to be taking Dan Rather’s lying stance: “Fake, but accurate.”


17 posted on 12/13/2011 7:49:03 AM PST by CodeToad (Islam needs to be banned in the US and treated as a criminal enterprise.)
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To: Old Teufel Hunden
Isn't that Michael Moore’s defense when he is confronted with the mounds of falsehoods in his “documentaries?” He has said something to the effect of “Hey, I am just an entertainer!”
18 posted on 12/13/2011 7:54:42 AM PST by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: beaversmom
We watched the documentary "Beavers" and it was great. The accompanying "How this was made" part though was sort of disappointing. The beavers were totally conditioned to the film crew so they weren't exactly natural. On the other hand, they wouldn't have been able to get many of the shots they did if the beavers weren't used to them being around. So I guess in the end there's a trade off between filming wildlife completely unaware vs. getting more intimate footage that you couldn't otherwise.

Unnaturally staged or contrived footage is, of course, another story.

19 posted on 12/13/2011 8:02:35 AM PST by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: Mount Athos

Fake? The next thing you know we will find out the Bear Grylls really doesn’t sleep out in the woods when filming Man vs Wild. :-)


20 posted on 12/13/2011 8:13:49 AM PST by Hacklehead (Lets stop bashing Republican candidates and get back to bashing OBAMA.)
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