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Planet Earth Live: Making ambitious wildlife programmes

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Tim Scoones Tim Scoones | 17:58 UK time, Wednesday, 9 May 2012

We are delighted to say that over five million viewers tuned in to watch the wildlife action on Planet Earth Live on Sunday and we are hoping they will join us for tonight's updates with Richard Hammond in Kenya and Julia Bradbury in Minnesota. While millions tuned in, thousands are following the regular updates from the field on Twitter and on the website bbc.co.uk/planetearthlive following @bbcplanetearth.

Our guys are filming 24 hours a day, seven days a week so that we can bring audiences all the action and the news highlights in our three times weekly programmes. We have five separate outside broadcasts transmitting from often quite inhospitable locations, so there is a bit of a large margin for error in this hugely ambitious project. As the action develops in the field, Richard and Julia are on hand to present the latest news and analysis of these real life events going on around the world.

Wildlife filming is a long, drawn out and arduous process. Programmes like Frozen Planet are years in the making but we are doing this in a matter of weeks. Animals don't act on cue and rarely behave as we would like them to, which is why we present the action as pre-edited news packages. The camera guys put in the groundwork so that we can bring our discerning natural history audiences the most fantastic and up to date stories - real-stories of real action and not endless footage of a location where there's a risk that nothing happens.

Ten years of experience on series like Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Big Cat Live have taught us that sharing the thought that animal stories are playing out and we don't know what is going to happen next makes for compelling viewing and a wonderfully real and connected experience. We have also learned that simply delivering pure, raw, live images only does not deliver enough of the much more exciting and informative drama that our audiences expect and deserve.

Julia Bradbury

Julia Bradbury co-hosts Planet Earth Live on BBC One.

It is worth noting that reality shows and news programmes have reached the same conclusion - it's the content and the ongoing story that matters, not the method of how we then package and present it to our audience. Richard and Julia present live in the field so that we can deliver up to date reports of real, ongoing events. Planet Earth Live is doing just this, and on a scale that we have never dreamed of before. We have camera teams and experts working around the clock, around the globe, capturing the action as it happens and filing reports to send back to base. The shows are then transmitted from Kenya and the USA and from our control hub at BBC Bristol onto BBC ONE and simulcast or as-live transmitted to 140 countries worldwide. Its quite a technical feat, and is the most ambitious wildlife broadcast event of its kind ever undertaken.

The stars of the show include lions, elephants, black bears, grey whales, giant river otters, toque macaques, meerkats and polar bears filmed in various locations in Africa, America, Asia, South America and the Arctic. Already they are developing their own following thanks to the real-time twitter updates from the teams in the field and their appearances on the BBC Planet Earth Live website. Gavin Thurston's little macaque Gremlin is causing a stir while Moja, the solo bear cub, is fighting for survival with his brave mum has us all rooting for him.

Our presenters are live in every show, discussing the latest action and news with our expert cameramen in the field. The reason we chose Richard and Julia is that they are consummate professionals well used to working with this live action environment. They are surrounded by experts - who we carefully chose for their experience in the field and with that particular species. And so, as Richard so succinctly put it in an interview with the Daily Mirror - when people ask why the bloke from Top Gear is doing a programme on nature "I can address that head on . I'm there to ask the questions and be amazed. Julia and I are not going to be afraid to ask those questions that perhaps some experts wouldn't because they assume greater knowledge."

In terms of the live nature of the series, we are reporting as a news programme would on recent events. We have never promised live footage of animals. The audience is sharing the action with the presenters and filmmakers with nature writing the script and our teams presenting the most interesting and informative parts of the animals' stories. The presenters are indeed hosting the show live and our web site is receiving updates from all over the world. If any animals are spotted during these live presenter moments and are relevant and interesting we will show them but this has never been our core purpose.

I hope you enjoy watching the series and follow us on the web. We are certainly having the time of our lives making it and we are grateful to Mother Nature for already writing us some amazing scripts.

Tim Scoones is Executive Producer, Planet Earth Live

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Tim,

    I'm so glad to here your having a whale of time at our expense, I see ur reading the news back here about the fact of very very very little live action and your hopeless presenters.

    You can't even defend the position ....

    What muppet decided to go and film in africa on the MM when the only animals there are starving and it's in the middle of the night and raining. If it was your money would you honestly pay to go on a safari at this time of year?
    Quote "in terms of the live nature of the series, we are reporting as a news programme would on recent events. We have never promised live footage of animals." It's called planet earth "LIVE" ... WHAT do you think we expected?


    You know all the comments regarding this are true and justified, in these economic times how can the BBC justify this HUGE expense?

  • Comment number 2.

    Just had to say I disagree with the poster above. Whilst Richard Hammond & Julia Bradbury are maybe not who I'd have wished for as anchors, they're doing a good job in general. (For the record I'd have gone with Simon King in the Mara and Gordon Buchanan in Minnesota) Anyone with half a brain cell knows that time differences mean the animals cannot all be shown as live broadcast, some are, some are recorded for later broadcast. (virtually all shows billed as live, including results shows for things like Strictly and The Voice are pre-recorded anyway).

    Someone told me they hadn't been watching because they "didn't want to see baby animals being killed or anything and they didn't want their child to see it and be upset". I think it's important that the realities of wildlife are shown, babies will die, starve, be killed and issues like poaching need to be brought fully into the public eye.

    Tim - could we get some concrete confirmations as to what will be included in the next programme please? Was waiting for the meerkats and polar bears, but they weren't on last night.

    People moaned about Springwatch because the badgers didn't show up, or the baby birds fledged outside the live broadcast - I recall reading one comment about Planet Earth Live that "the animals weren't doing anything interesting" - ye Gods. It's not Disney, they don't tap-dance past the camera singing The Circle of Life! They don't appear or do stuff on cue - it'd make wildlife cameramen's jobs a lot easier if they did. Congrats to Charlie Hamilton-James, Toby Strong, Gavin Thurston, Jamie McPherson, Gordon Buchanan and all the other cameramen filming these wonderful sights of nature - probably the only chance I will ever get to see most of them.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Tim,
    I am very disappointed with this programme. Over many years I have grown up with and enjoyed most of the programmes put out by the Natural History Unit, but this is dreadful. I know the BBC are trying to target younger people and by using "popular presenters" they hope to get a new audiance, but they are dishing up a poor offering that can only appeal to very few people and is an insult to the intelligence of most of its viewers both young & older.
    I would love to know who made the decision to use this style of presentation. If you cast your minds back to Big Cat Diary, this was a successful programme that was enjoyed and the format was spot on. Then they changed it to Big Cat Live and parachuted Kate Silverton in ( who can ever forget the Out of Africa suit and single mum referances) and it was universally slated and then dropped. I am afraid this will go down as another example of poor decision making at producer level. You say that Richard & Julia were chosen as they are consumate professionals. Well that may be your opinion, but all I can say from my immediate family & friends beg to differ and find Richard Hammonds skills very limited to say the least & Julia Bradbury may be OK in small doses but usually comes over in a condescending manner. Will these heads of departments look truthfully at the negative comments on both the blogs and also the Points of View Messageboard or will they just go along with their eternal search for the young viewer. I so wanted to watch a well made & presented programme, but this is aimed at, maybe unintentionally, to young children and will generally irritate the usual audiance a wildlife programme attracts.

  • Comment number 4.

    Is there any chance of you or another producer coming on to the TV or to a blog or even (god forbid) the POV board and discussing the hundreds of complaints about this programme?

    And I see you start this blog by congratulating yourself on getting 5 million viewers the first night. No mention of the fact that the second programme had only 3 million. Keep dropping those kinds of numbers and it will One Man and his dog watching.

  • Comment number 5.

    Only 118 complaints? Do you happen to have a blindfold on by any chance? Have you read the comments on the message board?

    You have an indefensible position. The whole programme was badly conceived and the choice of presenters nothing less that an unmitigated disaster. Why, why, why did you think that someone more know for beating up the environment in supercars was capable of presenting a wildlife programme? The most ambitious wildlife programme ever made by the BBC? Well, that might have been your ambition but unfortunately it has fallen way, way below your and the public's expectations.

  • Comment number 6.

    Tim

    You post is an insult to us all.

    Why not answer the points that have been raised on the following bbc forums rather than post this rubbish?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview/NF1951566?thread=8345087&skip=100
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tv/2012/05/planet-earth-live-julia-bradbury.shtml

    there are many other forums on the bbc complaining about the presenters and the content.

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh dear who commissioned this? Who thought Richard Hammond and Julia Bradbury could do this when they have no experience in this field of work? You could have made this work so well and its been a total disaster with those pair at the helm. I literally cringe every time Hammond opens his mouth. Julia well.... I feel like she is very condescending and talking to a younger audience. It would have been good with Simon King/Gordon Buchanan least they know what they are talking about and are good at what they do. Its actually got that bad, we've switched it over to watch Britain's Got Talent and that's speaks volumes!

  • Comment number 8.

    Please repeat a wildlife programme that is done by David Attenborough instead of this. This would massively reduce costs and would also be better at informing people abotu wildlife. Also I would like to add that Richard Hammond is not suitable to do a wildlife program considering he is most famous for a show that disregards the environment and abuses people who do care about the environment and wildlife.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well, you invited us onto this blog from the other one. Too much music. Too much dreary, monotone narrative, too much "it really doesn't look good.....we'll find out later", too much presenters on screen. David Attenborough doesn't take central stage on his wildlife programmes. The only one he really featured in was when he joined a group of Gorillas. When he talks, his voices blends into the background. Johnny Kingdom, Kate Humble, Bill Oddie, Simon King are all passionate about wildlife, and it shows. They don't eclipse the wildlife.

  • Comment number 10.

    I just want to say how much my family and I are enjoying this series. Being able to see all those wonderful animals in their own habitats, and learning more about them is great. All the animals are soooo cute!! Well done Planet Earth Live, keep up the good work!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Totally disagree, can't believe you are all whinging about such a fantastic programme. Fully support the packaged approach otherwise we would be unlikely to see the defining poignant moments in the animals lives that make you connect and identify with them, especially as a mother myself. Richard and Julia both make it interesting and accessible and their enthusiasm is catching.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Richard Hammond is great when he's talking about lumps of metal on wheels. However, he really is NOT the right choice of Presenter for Planet Earth Live! To chart the lives of these magnificent creatures on the most beautiful and magical place on earth, the presenter needs to possess an extremely humane streak.
    Humane:- characterized by tenderness, compassion, and sympathy for people and animals, especially for the suffering or distressed.
    Hammond needs to familiarise himself with this definition. Furthermore, I take exception to Hammond referring to his flight over such charming and mystifying landscape as a "commute" - when it is one of the greatest privileges! BBC - please don't ruin such great footage with a Presenter who is out of his depth, removed from and unfamiliar with his subject matter.
    On the plus side, the camera man who filmed and spoke about the otters in the Amazon was absolutely brilliant! Very in tune with his subjects; heartfelt and passionate presenting!

  • Comment number 14.

    I appreciate the technical complexity and the scale of what you're attempting with Planet Earth Live but I'm afraid these things alone do not satisfy or excite viewers. There are three problems with this series:

    1. A lot of viewers simply can't get past the choice of presenters and this is proving to be a major distraction from the actual content. There are plenty of equally talented, professional presenters who specialise in natural history so I find your defence weak. Chris Packham, Simon King, Gordon Buchanan, Jonathan Scott, Steve Backshall and Michaela Strachan have all cut the mustard on live TV and I don't believe any of them would stretch a BBC One audience (or an international one).

    2. The association with Planet Earth is a mistake. Planet Earth is rightly seen as one of the crown jewels of wildlife filmmaking, and this programme is something else entirely. Viewers attracted to the programme through the connotation of the title were always going to be left disappointed, and in the process the BBC have devalued one of their most prestigious brands.

    3. The animal "stars" have all been on our screens very recently, and in better programmes. The black bears in Minnesota featured in Gordon Buchanan's series last year and previously in a Natural World episode. The sea otter in Monterey Bay marina also featured in Natural World. Polar bears got plenty of screen time in Frozen Planet and Spy on the Ice. Elephant Diaries and The Secret Life of Elephants were shown in the last few years, as were the Marsh Pride in Big Cat Diaries. The grey whales were shown in Last Chance to See and meerkats are ubiquitous. All these programmes outshine Planet Earth Live, so viewers again feel short-changed because the subjects are over familiar, the footage is not as good and the stories are not as strong.

    All in all, a series of muddled decisions by the producers. I would far rather the money spent on this series had been put towards the next Planet Earth.

  • Comment number 15.

    well I too am glad that your're all having a whale of a time at our expense. When I saw that comment at the end of your piece on Julia Bradbury's blog I thought it was a spoof - took me a while to realise you were the producer. I gave up watching after the first 15 minutes of the first programme, in fact I find the POV pages and your blogs more entertaining.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Planet Earth Live - what a sad way to squander years of public trust and belief in the excellence of BBC wildlife programming.

    cjp1979 hit the spot in post 14 - I would just like to add you should be sued under the Trade Descriptions Act for calling it "Live".

  • Comment number 18.

    Tim. Genuine question. As a professional, whose reputation and future commissioning possibly depends to an extent upon Planet Earth Live, are you happy with it?

  • Comment number 19.

    What a total waste of money! Awful prestenters with no qualification for this kind of programing. The childish rubbish that Richard Hammond spouts is beyond belief.
    No live action to speak of! How on earth have you got this SO wrong?
    The Natural History Department is the beacon of quality programming at the BBC but sadly the beacon this time seems to have been reduced to a cheap lighter.

  • Comment number 20.

    Steve Backshall's Deadly 60 series on CBBC is better than this garbage. I don't per se mind Hamond & Bradbury but you guys are portraying them as patronising idiots.

    Time to review the BBC nature financial budget & quality control. Please consider we live in times of austerity.

  • Comment number 21.

    Mr. Scoones, when is this delightful programme you describe to be aired?

    Will it be better than the rubbish of the same name, being shown at the moment?

    The BBC has a well deserved worldwide reputation for the excellence of its wildlife documentaries.

    You have put an enormous dent in that hard won reputation .

  • Comment number 22.

    I have to agree that this programme is certainly not living up to the hype it was given before it started. Richard Hammond truly is an awful choice for this kind of programme and is far better suited to the childish antics of Top Gear & Wipeout.
    Will someone please tie his hands behind his back because the constant arm waving & pointing when talking to camera is really annoying - although Kate Humble does this a lot on her wildlife programmes so maybe it's BBC prerequisite!
    Julia Bradbury is marginally better than Hammond.
    My family gave up watching it halfway through last night's programme. It's a shame because wildlife programmes are the very thing at which the BBC excels. Then I ask myself should I carry on watching in the hope that all the negative comments are being passed on and acted upon and will it improve next week?

  • Comment number 23.

    It is a disgrace that decades of brilliant wildlife filming and reporting on the BBC are being totally debased by this dreadful programme - shame on all concerned. The two main presenters are totally unsuited to this, they appear to have little actual knowledge and overwhelming egos.
    I read that the viewing figures were down to 3million by Wednesday so others apparently agree with my opinion.

  • Comment number 24.

    Tim - thank you for your corporate answer to my email complaining about what an insult it is to have a potentially hugely successful idea introduced by a fool who's main interest is his hat hair. You have failed to answer any of my questions re suitability. You failed to interest me in suffering another dreadful episode of something that could have been incredible. You instead decide to give me a short and pathetic ramble about how Hammond's interest in wildlife goes beyond his love of cars - why do you think I care ? You are blatantly ignoring the failing viewing figures and the feelings of those who are enraged enough to put finger to keyboard. Your guidance of me to your blog only incensed me enough to gain a BBC ID and write back to you - can you not read ? The programme, your casting and your communication are a disgrace.

  • Comment number 25.

    I feel you are not listening to your viewers. We hate this corporate responce. We the viewers want intelligent presenters who are knowledgeable about wild life and not cars or walking the lakes. Why is Simon King and his band not involved? Why are you trying hard to fob us off.Look at your viewing figures and how they are reducing prog by prog. Are you listening? Are your boses? Wake up, this programme has been ruined by your stupidity.

    I really feel you are out of touch with your viewers. I want sensible wild life programmes with people I respect making them, and who have infinitely more knowledge than what you are saying richard hammond has. I have that knowledge, can I make the prog? I sincerely hope not. You have messed up and it is time for you to make your exit, bye bye. The BBC needs to save money, so you could hand in your resigination.

  • Comment number 26.

    Not very impressed with your new showing, I started watching the BBCs wildlife programs a long time ago with the likes of Johnny Morris, who wasn't a wildlife expert. I like time machine, hosted by Tony Robinson, he isn't a history expert. Both however where and are passionate about the subjects they where presenting. Hammond is clearly not a wildlife enthusiasts and that comes across.

    Just because someone is popular doesn't make them suitable for presenting a particular type of show, and simply saying so is frankly arrogant of the BBC, please learn a lesson or two from this farce.

  • Comment number 27.

    I disagree with most of the comments above. Having watched the three episodes so far, it has been fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Animals do not appear on cue and one needs to be patient. There is nothing wrong with showing pre-recorded footage because capturing such amazing animal behaviour takes time.

    In my opinion the BBC continues to maintain the highest standards in wildlife documentaries. Presenters - good to watch. Is it value for money? I think so. Good fun, keep it up. looking forward to the next five episodes.

  • Comment number 28.

    I was sorely disappointed by the anthropomorphic twaddle that now passes for a BBC wildlife programme. The camera work is as ever excellent but the level of presentation has been reduced to lowest common denominator with very little live footage. The programme is called Planet Earth Live but it's not. Animals do not have names and they do not have the capacity for thought and reason that the commentary suggests. Hammond is very good with cars and stupid reality shows but is clearly out of his depth with anmals, costly talking about being killed by animals close to the camp. Bradbury is nice to look at but equally unconvincing. David Attenborough and the camera crews must be so disappointed with how standards have slipped. I work abroad and have been proud of the fact that the BBC wildlife programmes have such a high reputation in other countries but this is almost down to the level of the very poor American offerings pitched at a market with about a 4 minute attention span. I watched one episode really wanting to like it but I will not be watching another - Britain's Got Talent has more to offer and that is very sad to say. What a waste of my licence fee.

  • Comment number 29.

    We have never promised live footage of animals.
    Why not call it Richard and Julia "live" instead then??!!??

  • Comment number 30.

    Plant Earth Live, a great idea, poorly executed. Whoever thought Julia Bradbury and Richard Hammond were up to the job. Their lack of knowledge is painful to watch, let's get the professionals in and send Julia and Richard back to 'light entertainment' where they belong!

  • Comment number 31.

    Can you please tell hammond to stop reminding us that it is live and that there are dangerous animals behind him. Its Africa. We get it. And I don't understand why the black bears are being introduced to us like they are new. It would be more interesting to follow on where Gordon left off and show us what them bears are up to now. The Bear Family caught the hearts of its viewers and I for one would like to see more links made to that series. I don't mind that its not techinically live but I would like to see more footage of the animals and possibly hear the experts speak more. However I do think the commentary on the makacks (sp?) is really good and delivered with good insight and passion.

  • Comment number 32.

    I've watched all the episodes so far and while I'm sure that you think that ten years of experience on series like Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Big Cat Live have taught you something you have ignored the most important aspect of those shows. Put people in front of the camera who have some credible expertise with the subject matter, not lame TV presenters who patronise and speak with little in depth knowledge of their subject.

    Where are Jonathan Scott, Kate Humble and Simon King et al.? The pictures are great the production is dreadful.

    The best bits are the narratives done by the cameramen who seem to know what they are talking about.

    Oh, and I just checked the previous threads on this topic and was really pleased to see everyone else feels exactly the same way. It is not a soap opera it is a natural world programme - lets get proper wildlife presenters and get back to real natural history content not the current awful presentation.

    Also, please stop repeating information (I'm being generous with that word) every time we see a set of animals - there must be plenty of new things you can say rather than telling us about pink feet over and over again.

    I'm going to watch the rest of the series with the sound off - please don't make a series like this ever again.

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm sorry to have have to report that I am very disappointed in the series so far.
    I have been really looking forward to it since the demise of "Big Cat Diary/Week"
    I feel cheated by the Promise in the title of the programme including the word "Live"
    As another comment said what else would you expect?
    Having presenters who are not remotely expert in the field of Nature seems a little strange too....I know they are very good TV presenters but what has happened to the old crew, Who know the Mara really well? Is it a matter of finance? Well I feel if the programme is worth doing, then do it properly or not at all.
    The next thing for me is the repetition......flashing between stories from one side of the world to the other, doesn't mean we have to be reminded of what happened 5 minutes earlier.
    This is the trait of many programmes nowadays, like the Property shows, whether it be looking fro a new home somewhere or makeover shows, and the cookery shows,
    I thought that the BBC Nature programmes would be above this type of time filling drivvle.......Please, Please show us the wildlife as nature intended, even if it did happen 12 hours ago.......a rare and hitherto unfilmed sighting of an Aardwolf in the Mara surely justified more than the few seconds of airtime we witnessed? Unbelievable really!
    Must go now as I am beginning to bore myself with such negativity.
    Hope you will take on board these points and improve on it.

  • Comment number 34.

    I truly hope that the producers will listen to the views held by the vast majority. I would not usually comment on television programmes but feel this programme is such a huge disapointment that it is necessary and important to add my complaint. Natural history on the BBC, especially perhaps in recent years, has been brilliant and informative with wonderful and knowledgable presenters who carry programmes with interest, enthusiasm and aplomb to the viewer (whether in the field or scripted such as Meercat Manor). Please do not dumb down on the presentation, children learn best from those who know and understsand their subject and can convey with interest and knowledge, please do not lose this. I have to say that when Richard Hammond stated that he thought the poaching of elephants for their tusks only occured in Victorian times I knew it was time to turn off, Julia Bradbury offered little except coo-ing over the young bears. Neither are qualified for this type of programme.

    Please, please learn from your mistakes and return to the type of Natural History programming that we have become used to and love receiving from the BBC

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    Your choice of presenter has totally undermined what could potentially have been a great series. Richard Hammond is not suitable for this series in any way and I'm very surprised more worthy and equally experienced candidates have been overlooked. We have seen Hammond " have the time of his life" on TV before - expect his ideas for increasing your declining viewers involve catapulting cars at herds of elephants or racing cheetah's in a 4x4. I echo the comments above, you have a great legacy of Natural History programming to follow, please don't tarnish it.

  • Comment number 37.

    It's all been said but I would like to add my concern that my licence fee is being wasted on a program which had such potential. Wrong choice of presenter's and if hammond says "It's live and there are dangerous animals all around me" once more I'll scream. I wish one of those "Dangerous" animals would make us all happy, if you get my meaning. As for Julia, stop hogging the camera.

  • Comment number 38.

    BBC ARE YOU LISTENING ?
    Are you going to respond to the overwhelming disappointment this programmes' presenters have caused. Are you going to recognise that you have insulted your viewers, wasted their money and potentially ruined your reputation for natural history programmes. Who cares if the animals dont appear on cue - no genuine watcher would expect them to ... we do care that the content and the presenters are weak, poor and uninspiring.

  • Comment number 39.

    Very disappointed with Tim Scoones response on Points of View this afternoon regarding Richard Hammond. Tim states that Richard Hammond finds wildlife fascinating and suggests that he is being judged on his past shows. Well I'm sorry but I also find wildlife fascinating which is why I like to hear a presenter who knows what he/she is talking about and has understanding of their subject matter. I have never watched any programmes presented by Richard Hammond in the past and can assure Tim that my opinion is based solely on his poor performance in this programme. Please bring back your respected presenters for any new programmes in the pipeline.

  • Comment number 40.

    Well known eco warrior Richard Hammond presents a wildlife programme, a perfect own goal. Have you all gone mad at the BBC what next Clerkson on Autumn Watch.

  • Comment number 41.

    DISSAPOINTMENT
    Watched the first episode the other night. I was quite excited about the show but it was such a let down. It was 5 mins of clips of animals then it would be richard hammond or julia bradbury talking for 20 minutes. Gave up after half an hour. If your gonna do a wildlife documentary please have someone decent to present it like David Attenborough his Frozen Planet on BBC One was amazing. No matter what dont let them two ever present wildlife cause they just ruin it.

  • Comment number 42.

    I had been really looking forward to the programmes but am hugely disappointed by what I've seen. The "live" filming is non-existent - I'm fed up of watching events that have been "filmed earlier in the day". The format of the programmes has unfortunately imitated the dreadful americanised style of constantly repeating footage from earlier in the show, presumably to remind us. I think the audience are more intelligent than they are being given credit for, and are more than capable of recalling what they saw 5 or 10 minutes earlier. I have also had enough of watching the presenters - can you not show film footage of the animals we have all tuned in to watch and, if we have to listen to the often inane commentary, at least give us something interesting to watch whilst we have to suffer the chat.

  • Comment number 43.

    Your presenters being "live" do not justify the much heralded tag "Planet Earth Live".
    You say, "The show and the format is evolving day by day..." but what I want to know, after all the experience the BBC has in producing great wildlife programmes, is how did you get this so wrong?
    Now, honestly, couldn't the presenters have done their "live" commentary from a studio is Scotland or England? Richard Hammond talking "live" from a tent in East Africa, in the dark!!!, is a total waste of money.

  • Comment number 44.

    Please, please get rid of Richard Hammond - his constant interrupting of superbly filmed action, merely to repeat in a very patronising manner what we had just seen, is EXTREMELY annoying.

  • Comment number 45.

    This programme would be a good example of the maths of failure as it's a lame duck to the power of a damp squib. Not just that but it shows bad idea + bad execution = total failure.

    What a joke and unfortunately, not a funny one - just a very expensive one, wasting talented BBC personnel (clearly excluding the Hamster, Julia Bradbury and Mr. Scoones) who could have been better used elsewhere.

    There is literally nothing new or interesting to be seen here and the whole anthropomorphisation of animals is just so Disney, that it's really making the whole show come off as something you'd sit the under 5s in front of - well, that and Richard Hammond.

    The BBC is supposed to have a few areas where it never fails - natural history is one of those but the rot has started to set in recently.

    I do not WANT to give Richard Hammond a chance - why does he deserve one? Oh, that's right - HE DOESN'T. Is there no beginning to his talent? Well, judging from the universal evisceration he's been getting - truly, there is none. He's fine as a Clarkson mini-me but that's the start and finish of his versatility.

    Naturally, we're getting the old rigmarole of how terribly ambitious this all is and how accessible it is. It's fairly awful.

  • Comment number 46.

    This programme has completely debased the wonders and heritage of the BBC's natural history unit who have produced such gems in the past. The time has come to ditch this programme quickly before it destroys the reputation further. This is the equivalent of "El Dorado" or the equally awful "Triangle."

  • Comment number 47.

    Tim, would you be so kind to publish fully the entire costs for this programme, not just for BBC's senior management (who are I think sitting uneasily at this huge public backlash) but also for us, the general public who pay their kicence fee to allow such programmes to be made. We are genuiniely interested to learn exaactly how much this has all cost including presenters' fees. I suppose we can wait a short period for the totals to be published. Of course, if they are not forthcoming in a sense of openness and responsibility to your viewers, a Freedom of Information request could be made.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think this is a wonderful programme. Julia and Richard are doing an excellant job. It might seem a bit boring sometimes but that's just because you can't make the animals perform, it's natural life. It's beautiful and educational. Carry on the good work. love the programme.

  • Comment number 49.

    Mr Scoones,

    As your chief benefactors through the licence fee, we expect YOU to use OUR money wisely and conscientiously. Our money would have been better spent choosing expert wildlife presenters such as Jonathan Scott, Simon King, Johnny Kingdom, Kate Humble etc as they're the total package. They are excellent presenters AND have the knowledge and expertise between their ears as well. Did it not occur to you to get the all-in-one product, rather than hire a male amateur and them go to needless expense by surrounding him with experts? If Richard's interested in wildlife and wants to 'branch out', then let him go away and study, learn the difference between Magpies and Oropendolas, gain the relevant GCSEs, A Levels, Degrees, fieldcraft experience etc and put him on our screens when he's fully-qualified and totally leavened. If you have an expert as a lead presenter, we benefactors see better value in action, and more spontaneity thanks to their already-inbuilt knowledge.

    The ongoing stories need to be supported by quality presentation and in this show, it simply wasn't. A masterpiece of civic sculpture cannot be adequately or competently displayed on a rickety plinth cobbled together from hedge twigs and cheap twine that a Pound Shop would even refuse to sell! A TV show like this is akin to an ecosystem that isn't working to its best. All elements need to be the best they can be and the weak presentation part of this ecosystem risks extinction for it if it carries on in its current manifestation. It's not supporting the viewers well enough, or their licence money. Planet Earth Live is losing its viewer species biodiversity and will be Critically Endangered very quickly if its faults aren't fixed.

    One final thing - the quote from you telling us that you're having the time of your life filming the series at the expense of your benefactors. This sentence from you comes across as the epitome of flippancy and arrogance. I hope that, for the sake of the people that fund you, Planet Earth Live undergoes a tremendously rapid process of evolution in quality. If you CAN'T guarantee live action, then DON'T put the word 'Live' in the title. Save OUR licence money by doing a pre-record and give unqualified presenters like Hammond the Total Wipeout from the show.

  • Comment number 50.

    ADDENDUM: Where Richard says this: "I can address that head on. I'm there to ask the questions and be amazed. Julia and I are not going to be afraid to ask those questions that perhaps some experts wouldn't because they assume greater knowledge."

    The reason why Jonathan Scott, Simon King, Kate Humble, Nick Baker, Mike Dilger, Saba Douglas-Hamilton, Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham are better value and quality than you in this area is this.

    They have spent many hours attending wildlife exhibitions, gone on Q&A book signing talks and tours, numerous Birdfairs, talks at schools, led wildlife holidays all over the world, spent years in the field etc mingling with the wildlife-interested adult public and schoolchildren who inevitably end up asking them things called 'questions'. They will then know EXACTLY the sorts of questions interested children and adults ask about wildlife, and have that prior knowledge to adapt their presentation to include the information required for a good, experienced, informed response. The experts therefore can relate MUCH better to the viewers. Hammond hasn't got that element of empathy of presentation. He ought to be at home listening to the experts.

  • Comment number 51.

    The self congratulatory tone of your blog in the face of a programme that has been universally panned is astonishing. Richard Hammond himself sums it up: "I'm there to ask questions and be amazed". If that is the brief, why not employ a couple of five year olds as presenters then? Perhaps, if you had assumed that the viewers had a few brain cells between their ears instead of imagining that they were wide eyed five year olds, who wouldn't even notice that the content is anything but "live", you would have made a decent programme. Still, scrimping and saving to pay my licence fee seems worth it, now that I know I am helping you all to have "a whale of a time" producing programmes to patronise me.

  • Comment number 52.

    I agree with a lot of the above comments. The main problem isn't the title Eg "live" but the poor presentation. Both Julia and Richard dumb down the whole program and thats ok if you're a 5 year old but im considerably older than that and used to well made programs with knowledgable and skilled presenters, eg big cat week, anything with David Attenborough, Gordon Buchanan, Simon King etc. I have enjoyed the imput from the bear man and various cameramen, but seriously.... Julia and Richard???? Who on earth thought they would be good in this type of role? Who employed them? Were the above mentioned (professional) presenters all unavailable?
    This program could and indeed should have been brilliant as we the viewers have come to expect from the BBC. Unfortunatley it has failed to impress the majority of viewers. Can I please make a suggestion to the "bosses" at the BBC..... next time PLEASE put in the professionals and not unsuitable, unskilled, frankly annoying presenters.
    Lets just hope this hasnt ruined the BBC's reputation for excellent Natural History programs!

  • Comment number 53.

    Planet Earth Live is one of the most condescending programmes I have watched on the BBC. Please could Richard Hammond be told to stop reminding us that May is a very important month in the natural world, I think I have heard him say it at least ten times. I understand that this programme was aimed for the younger generation, but I have happily watched wildlife programmes from a very young age and have never found them out of my depth. I feel as if, rather than other wildlife programmes on the BBC having an audience of all ages, this programme is limiting its audience to only young children. This programme could have been much more successful had the BBC chosen proper wildlife presenters instead of Richard Hammond, who spends half of the time making silly comments about clips which have just been shown or trying to make other jokes. I have ceased watching this programme and meanwhile look forward to the next properly executed BBC wildlife programme, with professional wildlife presenters.

  • Comment number 54.

    Please, please tell R Hammond to stop pointing it gets so annoying. Why do the presenters keep repeating what has just been said on the "live pictures" taken earleir that day. Can we have more of the animals and lesso f the presenters. When is Jackson going to actually be able to say something without RH stopping him. So many questsuion and no answers, it's not only the rainy season in Kenya it is here in England too!!!!!

  • Comment number 55.

    I am the author of this blog post and the Executive Producer of Planet Earth Live. Thanks for posting your comments. It’s great that so many people are watching the series and care enough to take the time to share their views here. We are also getting a lot on engagement via Twitter and Facebook (we already have over 8,000 suggestions for a name for Moja the lion’s mother …).

    As we’re putting the show together on a rolling basis, it’s very useful to know what you’re enjoying so we can build on it, and it’s also instructive to hear from those who still think we’ve got things to fix or would have done things differently - even if it’s a bit brutal for us to absorb while we are still in the 24/7 process of producing the shows. We now half way through the series and I hope you can see we are still trying to evolve and improve the format as we go.

    All of us from the BBC’s Natural History Unit who are working on this show – cameramen and women, editors, producers and presenters – are burning the midnight oil to make Planet Earth Live as good as we possibly can, and delivering as best we can on our core aim of telling you compelling stories from the natural world as they happen, because we really want to show you how important this month is in the natural world. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our field teams of camerafolk, producers and editors who are working extremely hard in difficult situations and are still able to deliver amazing shots and scenes and tell intimate, real-life stories with often only hours to turn the stories around and get them back to base in time for each live transmission. I remain extremely proud of their tireless work and beautiful, crafted results, and I salute them.

    Every episode we put together, we learn new things and we’re determined to keep evolving and improving. There are some issues you are raising that are too late to change for this series (and many of these I have already addressed in my initial blog), but rest assured every big new broadcast format and editorial idea like this gets rigorously reviewed and debriefed within the BBC Natural History Unit before planning any future series or re-workings of its format or core idea.
    Thanks again for taking the time to share your views, which we ARE all reading and listening to. We’ll be back on air tonight at 7.30pm on BBC ONE for a quick half hour catch up and with more new stories in our main one hour shows on Thursday and Sunday. I do hope you will join us.

  • Comment number 56.

    I have to agree with everyone, Richard Hammond, what a disaster, Gordon Buchanan would of been perfect for the job, and he knows the bears and he is passionate and clued up about all wild life!

  • Comment number 57.

    Why do the two presenters have to ruin absolutely everything by so visibly reading their notes on camera??? Julia seems to even need to check what emotion she is supposed to be feeling, or what the continuation of an exclamation is!! So unprofessional it's absolutely revolting!

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm a bit disappointed about how much 'Live' content there is. Most seems to be prefilmed nature with voiceovers by Richard Hammond and Julie Bradbury. Surely this could have been done in a studio in UK and saved a lot of money. The BBC's definition of Live seems to be totally different from mine and the OED.

    Richard Hammond standing in the dark by a fire is hardly riveting and Juliet Bradbury in forest or with water backdrops is also particularly uninspiring.

    Athropomorphising the animals is also a dumbing down. Viewers have more intelligence than the BBC seems to credit them. I think this 'Live' programme needs a big shake up.

  • Comment number 59.

    Having made my first compaint via the BBC's official complaint route, then received a response that in no way addressed any of the points I rasied, I now make them agian here.
    Please, please - take Richard Hammond off and get a decent presenter. He is fine for Top Gear & a stupid game show in Argentina, but not this!!
    I don't care if he first developed an interest in wildlife when he was in his mother's womb, that DOES NOT make him a good presenter for a natural history programme, and HE ISN'T. His "flip" comment in an early programme about ivory poaching was totally unacceptable, as is talking to us as if we are 5 year olds.
    In addition, there is way too much presenter time, stupid handovers between him and Julia, not enough actual wildlife footage (and what there is isn't "live") and then the series features a man who interferes with the eco-system by feeding the bears, therby encouraging them them to trust humans which could endanger their lives one day.
    The BBC has clearly put some excellent wildlife camera people out in the field, so let's see more of what they are seeing and not so much of Richard (preferably none, in fact) or Julia.

  • Comment number 60.

    55.At 13:00 16th May 2012, Tim Scoones wrote:
    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

    Mr. Scoones, as you started this blog, is this the only answer we can expect, to all the negative feedback?

  • Comment number 61.

    This is a very disappointing series. Too much repetitive talk, too many repeats of film action. Too much dumbing down. When the story is interesting, you break it up into pieces instead of seeing each story through to it's end. Sooooo annoying. Perhaps if each section has a time slot so you don't waste time going back and forward,[ for after all, most of it is prerecorded} and then repeating the same old introductions each time you go to the next area of the world with it's presenter and repeating the same camera shots.. Also as much as I enjoy the present presenters in their usual fields, I would have preferred to have experts in this fields who would perhaps have a more adult approach in their presenting.

  • Comment number 62.

    I have gone to to some trouble to seek out this forum this evening to express my great irritation at the mere four minutes of this program that I tolerated tonight before employing the remote. Do these presenters think we are all completely stupid? Could they not present this impressive footage without endlessly dragging out a simple statement and repeating it in seven different ways? We really do get it when you say the polar bear cubs will die if they can't suckle - really, job done in a few words - move on, we all have. Last week it drove me round the bend and we turned the sound off and just looked at the pictures. Please do not try to turn these hapless creatures into characters in a soap opera, it is demeaning to all of us!

  • Comment number 63.

    I too have gone through the bother of registering just to express my sheer frustration at this diabolical programme!! 

    45 minutes of constant interruptions by these two 'numpties' who not only  know nothing about wildlife but also only to tell me what I can already see or that they've already told me every flipping episode so far- over to Hammond 'it's the rainy season in the Masai Mara' really, no-way that's rain? Well my goodness I'm so glad I tuned in- now over to Bradbury to tell me 'how cute these little brown bears are' oh no wait that's not enough let's also pretend you're a bear! Honestly I can't 'BEAR' anymore of it!!

     Each episode I've tuned in hoping for improvement because believe it or not I actually want to like it but these two make it impossible! How it was suppose to capture younger audiences I will never know- two middle age misfits who know nothing beyond the blatantly obvious?? 

    Whilst Hammond's presenting skills were adequate enough for 'total wipeout' I'm certain that this gig is not for him, the only thing he may achieve is 'wiping out' the entire audience who are left watching this drivel. 

    BBC standards are slipping send Bradbury back to 'cuddling lambs', Hammond 'racing zafiras' and let the big guns deal with the really wild stuff. :(

  • Comment number 64.

    I thought I may have been a bit harsh in my last comments, so I watched again last night and also had a whizz through some episodes on iplayer. It's even worse watching episodes on iplayer as you realise how bad this 'live' extravanganza is. Please use professional wildlife presenters. Calling it 'live' is a misnomer (could it be referred to Trading Standards!!).

    Did no-one realise that it would be dark in Africa when the show went out? Poor research, poor presenting, poor series. Please don't do this again without proper preparation. Poor planning results in poor performance and presentation

  • Comment number 65.

    Still no response from Mr.Scoones!

  • Comment number 66.

    I had a quick thought, that might recoup some of the money spent on this series. Videos of the episodes could be used as training videos on how not to make a wildlife series

  • Comment number 67.

    It's interesting to note that there has not been one single reply from Tim Scoones. I wonder why that is?

  • Comment number 68.

    Come on Tim, please come out from behind the sofa and address the complaints made about this shambles of a programme.

    I dare you !

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    I saw the programme last night albeit with the mute button on for some of the presentation. The film of the baby elephants caught in the river with their young mums was very moving and well done but unfortunately broken up by other items and RH.

    Richard Hammond was again very much out of his depth as a presenter with arms and hands going around like a windmill, very distracting, but at least he has now learnt of ivory poaching, something he hadn't heard about before this programme started according to his own comments.

    It has to be asked if Tim Scoones really believes that an adult prime time audience wants to see Julia Bradbury filling the screen making bear noises and crawling about on all fours imitating the bears. The target audience may be young people but this was definitely pre-school.

    Perhaps Richard and Julia's next nature project should be titled "Fish out of Water" a subject they both seem to know a great deal about.

    I'll not watch again, mainly because of the bad presentation and programme formating. Most subjects covered on the series have been covered much better on other programmes. I'm sure there must be many positive comments on twitter and facebook due mainly to the filming and wildlife. Unfortunately I'm sure this will be taken by the BBC as proof of success.

  • Comment number 71.

    i kind of agree with bagofbits because i also expected LIVE footage of animals not just richard hamond drooping of about something he doesn't have a clue about in the rain!

  • Comment number 72.

    (not wanting to offend you there richard)(+david attonbourough is allot better

  • Comment number 73.

    Most of what I think has been said already. This (LIVE) programme is an absolute load of rubbish and an embarrasment to the BBC and the professional wildlife presenters who DO NOT appear on it.
    I object strongly to my license fee being used in this way.

  • Comment number 74.

    Hi Tim, I wish to add my voice to the others here who are very disappointed with this programme.

    From all the trailers and hype before this series aired it looked like it was going to be an unmissable series of live wildlife action from around the world. I'm not surprised the first show got 5 million viewers especially after watching the original Planet Earth series.

    The producers of this show should be ashamed of themselves for taking the name of one of the best BBC wildlife series ever produced and adding the word 'Live' on the end. The content of some of the shows has been great and I commend the wildlife camera men and women for their work in getting great footage of the grey whales, the bears, and the lions and elephants but billing it as Live was a huge mistake!

    Please tell Richard to stop repeating what was seen earlier everytime we go back to him. By the end of the hour I'm screaming at the tv 'yes you told us that 3 times already tonight!' Discuss the action once and then when he comes back later in the show go straight to the next film or live action NOT a replay of what was seen earlier.

    I have stuck with the programme mainly for the parts from Minnesota and Gordon Buchanan who has not had nearly enough air time. But I feel very let down by the production team for the way its been put together and the way i have been deceived by the ambiguous title for the show. Please stick to making programmes that have top quality WILDLIFE content like you used to and ditch the 'live' aspect and Hammond, It was never going to work.

  • Comment number 75.

    I am also disappointed with the programme, I was expecting so much, over the years I have watched and enjoyed big cat diaries, living with bears and so many more wildlife programmes, Hammond always seems to be scratching his arms or head, but I feel I have been very let down by the presenters. One of the worst wildlife programmes the bbc have aired.

  • Comment number 76.

    My first problem is that given that most of the programme's actual animal action content is necessarily recorded, I fail to see what value a live presenter in a dark Masai Mara encampment is supposed to add.

    My second problem is that, even as a supporter of Julia Bradbury and as professional as they both may be, she and Richard Hammond are hopelessly miscast here. I don't believe that you can make serious wildlife documentaries without using presenters with serious wildlife gravitas. You've got the best in the world available to you, for Heaven's sake.

    I'm a long-standing fan of the normally excellent BBC wildlife documentaries and view them with great respect but this is the first such programme that I now actually avoid. I agree that you're damaging the fine reputation so professionally created.

    I'll try desperately to forget the sight of Julia Bradbury crawling on her hands and knees padding out expensive air time pretending to be a bear. Strewth!

  • Comment number 77.

    I have read elsewhere that Julia Bradbury would like to do more wildlife programmes. I sincerely hope that this does not happen. Viewers do not need a non-expert asking an expect questions, all we need is the expert in front of the camera or as voice-over. Julia seems to forget sometimes that it is the wildlife that needs to be centre stage, it is the wildlife viewers are tuning in to see. Julia may be good in the walking series and with interviews on countryfile but wildlife needs a presenter qualified in the field and happy with a place in the background. We also do not need expert filming to be broken up with a return to the 'studio' for a non-expert to tell us what we have just witnessed. Please show some respect for the wildlife by showing captured incidents in full.

    I'm not sure whether the species covered by this series are suitable for 'soundbite' television anyway, all of the species shown have been covered by more worthy and detailed programmes which are ultimately more interesting as the subjects can be shown in more depth. I would like to see a full programme on the elephants in particular (with wildlife experts), those poor young mother elephants crying out, for their babies, for their own mothers, for their situation, following the river incident is something that stays with you and cannot be forgotten.

  • Comment number 78.

    To add, the baby elephant crying out as the group walked away was absolutely heart-rending, all RH could say at the end of the film was to tell us to remember that it was happening 'right-now'. I do hope this experiment in un-qualified presentation will be the last.

  • Comment number 79.

    BCD was so enthralling that it lured us to KENYA .After 9 visits,most included trips to the MARA,we regret not a minute.If,however,we had only seen this latest shambles we would never have contemplated going to KENYA.The production team must think its viewers are idiots.Who chose the presenters? Whats wrong with using SIMON,JONATHAN,SABA or KATE.The BBC have dumbed down its previous high standard.A lot of the KENYA film has been shown before.Why hasn't Jackson been used more?This latest programme is rubish.

  • Comment number 80.

    I commented last week about this programme and have returned to see whether my earlier observations are shared by others. Reading through the posts it seems there are very few that support the vision Mr Scoones portays in his opening comments.
    I am surprised he hasn't returned to his own blog to answer his customers concerns that this "LIVE" series has not met with his expectations. Perhaps his absence speaks volumes.

  • Comment number 81.

    What has happened with natural history film making? It just seems to get worse and worse as the years go by. This being one of the worst NH programmes I have seen so far.

    Without repeating the same old complaint's about lack of live footage and choice of celebrities (presenters). Maybe it should have been called Why! Why Richard and Julia ? Why live? Could the original title infringe trading standards, maybe it should be reported to watchdog!

    I remember a time when natural history covered almost any species you care to think of. I have never been a huge fan of Attenbourgh's programs simply because it had him standing in front of a camera far to often! But now it seems natural history programs are mostly about the celebrity presenters!

    The BBC have even begun showing pseudo NH programs with 55 minutes of a Well known Scottish grey haired camera man in front of the camera and the last 5 minutes of the actual animal the program is about (if you are lucky)

    When I was growing up I remember seeing programs about coral reef's, Ground Hornbill's, Massive flocks of Quelea, and so on. Now its always the same old things Big Cat's, Crocdiles, Bears, Elephants. I love those things but there are over one and a half million species in the world can't we (the tax payers) see programs about something else just for a change.

    Without some celebrity presenter taking up all the limelight, spring watch is very enjoyable but can we have NH programs that just star the animal! There is enough dull reality drivel on the TV can we escape it just for an hour now and again and get away from property and antique programs Please please please repeat the old BBC NH programs that used to be about wildlife not the person in front of or behind the camera.

    It wouldn't even cost anything, but please don't do what ITV have recently done and re-edit it with exciting drum rolls and younger narrators just to make it "modern & sexier" for younger audiences.

  • Comment number 82.

    It is Sunday evening and I thought that I would give Planet Earth Live !!!! one more try. Like many commentators after the Hype about the programme I was sorely let down by the choice of presenters and the cheek to call it live. Having said that I enjoyed the brief shots of the Polar bears with Gordan Buchanan which has followed on from seeing him on Eden last night with the black bears.

    I cannot understand why the BBC has let themselves down with this programme by using presenters who are not normally associated with this type of programme. I would loved to have seen presenters of the calibre of Saba Douglas hamilton or Charlotte Uhlenbroek and others they know what they are talking about and put it over in a professional manner.

    I feel I would rather see recorded NH programmes as they are well put together I shall be looking out for Gordon's new programme later in the year.

    I would love to know just how much this has cost us

  • Comment number 83.

    Mr. Scoones should admit that the experiment was a dismal failure, and offer Charlotte Uhlenbroek some of the huge amount of money the BBC wastes on "the talent", to entice her back to the fold, and make some professional wildlife documentaries

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

    I have to say I am disappointed with the series so far, don't get me wrong I am beginning to enjoy it more as it gets going it but I agree with the many the presenter choice is very questionable. I was seriously looking forward to it as I was lucky enough to see Caught on Safari Live with Michaela Strachan and John Varty (to name two). Michelas passion for wildlife and energy is always evident and I think she would have also made a great presenter for the African anchor. That series was truly live. I was well and truly hooked, brilliant totally live experience. I realise this is several places in the world but has too much of a pre-recorded feel. (Kinda waiting for a Lion to jump on Hammond to give it a live feel lol) No seriously lovely concept but I feel it could have been done so much better.

 

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