Penguins - Spy in the Huddle

The Journey

Series 1 - Episode 1 The Journey



A robotic rockhopper-penguin camera surveys a Falkland Islands nesting colony like a twitchy Bond villain with a bad toupee. It’s one of a clutch of spy cameras planted in penguin communities across the globe to capture the birds’ breeding habits up close.

In Antarctica, the emperor penguin-cam glides across the ice, a slightly sinister fairground ride, followed by its comically shuffling real-life counterparts. In the Atacama Desert, plucky Humboldt penguins pay no heed to the mechanical impersonator in their midst as they pick their way through thousands of snappy sea lions.

If you can ignore the jokey music and melodramatic narration, this is a lovely film. The fun of the penguin cams isn’t their footage; it’s watching the real birds’ interactions. One sex-starved rockhopper even tries to get off with the fake interloper in a scene that will make you laugh for a week.


David Tennant narrates an insight into this most intriguing and comical of birds, beginning with three different species' journeys to reach their breeding grounds. Emperor penguins cross a treacherous frozen sea, and rockhoppers brave stormy seas before they come ashore and face a daunting assault up a 300ft cliff, where they are vulnerable to predators. Meanwhile, the tropical humboldts have to evade sea lions, dodge vampire bats and battle sea birds before they can lay their eggs in the desert. All the while, their every move is being secretly filmed by hidden spy technology, including robotic penguins with cameras for eyes.

Cast & Crew

Narrator David Tennant
Producer Philip Dalton
Series Director John Downer