What if you spent tons of money flying celebrity hosts, camera crews and support personnel to exotic locations halfway around the world for a live television show featuring wild animals in real-time, and then spent tons more money on PR and marketing so everyone would be sure to tune in as the hosts documented real, live wild animals that are being beamed into your living room live, as it’s happening right there in the wild! And then nothing shows up?

That’s the PR nightmare facing the BBC after the first episode of a new real-time wildlife series tanked in spectacular fashion. Apparently no one told the animals to show up. What divas.

From this story in the UK Telegraph:

_It was billed as the ultimate live global wildlife drama but the BBC was deluged with complaints after the first episode of Planet Earth Live featured only two animals in “real time”. The broadcaster came under fire after the 70-minute programme failed to deliver any new footage of the “magnificent creatures” shown in previews. One viewer said: “Enjoyable, but I’m still waiting for live pictures of any creature that isn’t a human being.”…The BBC had advertised the series as a “global wildlife event” that would feature “real animals” in “real time”. Producers had hoped to emulate the success of series such as Springwatch, which have proved popular. Within minutes of the first instalment of the eight-part series being broadcast, the BBC’s Points of View message boards were deluged with complaints.
Interestingly enough, one of the two exotic locations the BBC chose was…Minnesota?

From the story: The episode featured little more than 20 minutes of live footage during which the presenters, Richard Hammond and Julia Bradbury, spoke to the camera from their respective locations in Kenya and Minnesota. Most of the programme consisted of pre-recorded footage of lions, elephants, bears, whales and monkeys.

Really? Minnesota? I don’t mean to knock the good folks of Minnesota, it’s a lovely state, but if you’re going to film a wildlife show and not have people fall asleep on their couches, shouldn’t you choose somewhere with lots of fearsome creatures engaged in epic fights to the death? Like, oh, I don’t know, the LA freeway system, the NYC subways, Wal-Mart on Black Thursday? Anyway, apparently the only “live” animals caught on tape were a couple of buffalo caught on a thermal imaging camera. Viewers also complained about the presenters, specifically “Top Gear” host Richard Hammond.

From the story: Hammond, in particular, proved an unpopular choice. The presenter, more famed for racing cars in Top Gear, was described as “maddening” and “annoying” by wildlife lovers. One viewer said: “I don’t think Richard Hammond is a suitable presenter for wildlife documentaries.” Another said: “Hammond should stick to cars.” A spokesman for the BBC admitted that there was little live animal action but said the presenters were there to comment on the day’s news and stories and to provide analysis. “A lot of it had been filmed that day on location and the footage was clearly signed as pre-packaged,” said the spokesman.

OK, so maybe the BBC was a bit unrealistic in depending on wild animals to cooperate with its show. Maybe viewers are being a bit unrealistic to expect a live TV show to be as entertaining and action-packed as a filmed wildlife documentary, which literally take years of footage to produce. But come on, don’t rag on Richard Hammond, guys.

Think about it, if you’ve got seventy minutes of what is essentially dead air, you might as well have someone funny in front of the camera, right? In fact, I think the BBC needs to get the other two “Top Gear” hosts onto that show, pronto, give them some cars, put them in the middle of the veldt, and do a live “Top Gear” episode. That sound a whole lot more fun than two buffalos…