David Attenborough – the man who the British public seem to have collectively adopted as a surrogate Grandfather – continues his exploration of the island of Madagascar his latest piece (which has a rather Potteresque title). Cue shots of furry beasts as Attenborough stumbles through the jungle speaking with his trademark liquid marmalade vocal chords. Who needs Bear Grylls anyway?
This may sound like a half-arsed JK Rowling draft, but Attenborough and the Giant Egg is just as enchanting as the wizarding saga (although these people may feel differently..) The legendary naturalist hunts out rarely seen yet incredibly fascinating creatures while also investigating the legend of the giant Elephant Bird which began with keen adventurer, Marco Polo.
It is a pursuit that began 50 years prior for Attenborough who, while filming his original nature documentary Zoo Quest, discovered various egg shards littered upon the Madagascan Island. With black and white footage of this archived documentary showing a young intrepid Attenborough (believe it or not, he was 20 years-old once) spliced amongst the present day footage, we get a real sense of the passage of time with this particular documentary which adds an element of charming mysticism and a layer of adventure to the proceedings.
The exploration for this giant bird acts as a grounding for the episode, and while it is bookended with the story of the egg, with one or two odd bits mid way through to remind you that this all started with an elaborate Easter egg hunt, the real topic that is discussed is conservation. As we are treated to brilliantly shot montages of lemurs leaping around like white wraiths in their thorny habitat, we are once again reminded that you and I – the human race – is rubbish and all we do is destroy and push out other species. The episode enjoys displaying long distance shots of decimated Madagascan landscapes which Attenborough informs us, used to be jungles teeming with human sized lemurs and giant 10-12 ft birds. It would seem that when humans came on the scene they began to cut down the forests, therefore removing the homes of the rare species, and hunting the animals. Whoops.
The magic of Giant Egg.. is that it doesn’t seem to matter when the initial myth is scraped away and we realise that this giant bird is in fact just an oversized extinct Ostrich, you still find yourself transfixed by the calming nature of Attenborough, the human sedative of television who manages to bring a British homely atmosphere to the exotic worlds of the jungle.