Sreya Biswas, the BBC Head of Natural History, unveiled two highly anticipated projects at the Wildscreen Nairobi event. Big Cats 24/7, produced by BBC Studios Natural History Unit, and Orphan, created by Hello Halo, are set to captivate audiences with their immersive exploration of African wildlife.
Big Cats 24/7 takes viewers on a mesmerising journey into the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, a pristine wilderness untouched by human interference. The groundbreaking 6-episode series follows a team of expert cameramen, including renowned wildlife cinematographers Gordon Buchanan, Vianet Djenguet, and Anna Dimitriadis. Led by Brad Bestelink and armed with cutting-edge tracking technology and state-of-the-art low-light cameras, they document the lives of lions, leopards, and cheetahs day and night. Enduring treacherous landscapes, raging wildfires, and extreme weather, the team unveils unprecedented insights into the behaviour of these majestic creatures.
Roger Webb, the Executive Producer, expressed his enthusiasm, promising viewers an enthralling rollercoaster ride of drama and emotion. Commissioned for BBC Two, iPlayer, and PBS, the series aims to present big cats in a never-before-seen light.
Meanwhile, Orphan tells the remarkable tale of Toto, a baby Kenyan elephant whose life takes a profound turn when his mother tragically dies. Filmed over three years, the documentary showcases the incredible bond that forms between Toto and Joseph, a man who becomes the elephant’s surrogate mother. Joseph, himself an orphan, dedicates himself to raising Toto at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s neo-natal unit. The film explores their heartwarming journey filled with uncertainty, challenges, and extraordinary encounters with other elephants raised by keepers. Together, they embark on a transformative path that leads Toto back to the wild.
Executive Producer Wendy Rattray emphasised the captivating nature of Toto’s story, promising awe-inspiring moments that will shed new light on the behaviour of these remarkable creatures. Supported by Screen Scotland and The Chantecaille Conservation Foundation, Orphan is a single film commissioned for BBC Two and iPlayer.
Both projects, commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual, are set to push the boundaries of wildlife documentaries, offering unparalleled access to African wildlife and showcasing the talents of African experts both on and offscreen. With their dedication to authenticity and diversity, these captivating documentaries promise to redefine our understanding of African animals and their environments.