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Terry Pratchett - Facing Extinction

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In 1994, fantasy author Terry Pratchett visited the Borneo jungles to meet and film endangered orangutans. Since then, both their fortunes have changed. Orangutan numbers in Indonesia have halved, and for Pratchett, diagnosis with a rare form of Alzheimer’s has confronted him with a sense of his own mortality. While he still can, Pratchett wants to revisit the orangutans again, to see what chance they have, but also to ponder his own looming extinction: as he puts it, “When you’re dying, how do you live your life?” It’s a touching and profound film, as we’ve come to expect from Pratchett. He talks stirringly about the beauty and sheer force of orangutans.

Remembering his meeting with famous alpha male Kusasi, he says, “You absolutely knew that he could take you to pieces. He looked like two Arnold Schwarzeneggers side by side.” He hopes to be reunited with Kusasi, but in the vastness of the jungle, it’s a long shot.


Eighteen years ago, Discworld author Terry Pratchett had a life-changing experience in the jungles of Borneo, where he encountered orang-utans in the wild for the first time. Here, cameras follow him back to find out what the future holds for these endangered primates. The novelist, who died last month following an eight-year battle with Alzheimer's, finds the trip an incredible challenge both physically and mentally, as he contemplates the role of mankind in the eradication of the planet's species and considers his own mortality.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Terry Pratchett
Director Charlie Russell


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