Snow Babies: Review

Snow Babies

BBC One, Wednesday, December 19, 8pm

If you’ve never spent an illicit couple of minutes at work watching YouTube clips of kittens, puppies or parrots doing something oh so funny, then fear not, that’s two minutes in the procrastination bank you can save and spend on something more edifying. If you’re one of the millions who have, then last night the canny (or crafty, as the fang-toothed illuminati at the Daily Mail would have us believe) BBC gave you an early Christmas present with wildlife documentary Snow Babies.

As is common knowledge, coverage of the natural world is one of the many things that the Beeb excels in, and in that regard Snow Babies was everything you would expect it to be.

Narrated by Caroline Quentin, it visited a number of winter-clad locations to cover the first year of life experienced by Arctic foxes, otters, penguins, polar bears and reindeer. All standard fare, until it threw a complete curveball and promised us a look at the utterly brilliant-sounding snow monkeys. Yes, as in monkeys that live in the white powdery stuff.

Given its title, Snow Babies was never going to be in quite the same league as an Attenborough-fronted show. Quentin spent most her time anthropomorphising everything in sight, referring to the young animals’ parents as “mum and dadâ€?, while there were plenty of gratuitous shots of polar bear cubs slipping over on icy tundras, penguin chicks having a play-fight and otters belly-sliding down snowy slopes. Presumably all to keep the YouTube crowd on side.

Nevertheless, it still gave us the usual stunning wildlife photography with just a smidgen of death and flesh-ripping (as tends to happen in the wild), although the gooey-eyed were spared any actual kill scenes. There was even the odd moment of terror, none more so than when a group of female penguins, crazed by the loss of their own offspring, chased down and nearly crushed a lone chick, before the genuine materfamilias swooped to the rescue with seconds to spare.

Best of all were the snow monkeys (that, disappointingly, turned out to be macaques rather than an actual species), residing amongst the glorious scenery of Japan’s mountain ranges and spending their days eating crustaceans, playing with snowballs and letting off steam in nature’s hot tub-like springs.

The chance to see all this, before the polar ice has completely melted, the rivers and seas are polluted and fished barren and humanity has tarmacked over every last remaining square mile of open land, was certainly nice. Season’s cheer everybody!

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