The BBC has hit back at reports that last year’s agonising iguana chase in Planet Earth II was faked, saying that their filmmakers had faithfully captured “extraordinary animal behaviour which had never been witnessed or filmed before”.
The scene, in which an iguana was relentlessly pursued by a group of snakes before eventually scuttling to freedom, was a big deal. It has been viewed over 140 million times across YouTube, Facebook and Chinese social media platforms Weibo and Tencent, and earlier this year the sequence won the BAFTA for TV’s ‘Must See Moment’.
But the broadcaster felt the need to speak out after media outlets picked up on Planet Earth II producer Elizabeth White’s comments at a Media Production event in London. She told the audience: “It wasn’t the same iguana no, and often we have to augment it with other clips. Unfortunately lizards, snakes and iguanas aren’t good at ‘takes’.”
But a spokesperson for the BBC has defended David Attenborough’s programme.
“The BBC strongly refutes any suggestion that the award-winning iguana v snakes sequence was ‘faked’,” she said.
“As is common in natural history film-making, pick-up shots were filmed separately – for example close-ups of iguana eyes – to make the story of the sequence as clear as possible for the audience.
This is absolutely in keeping with the norms of natural history film-making – and absolutely in line with the BBC’s editorial policy guidelines, and was a true representation of animal behaviour.”
Crucially, the spokesperson confirmed that the final chase was the real deal.
“The final iguana chase in which one iguana escapes the snakes was – unusually for natural history filming – shot using two cameras, allowing us to follow both the individual iguana and the snakes’ point of view.
“What was captured in the field was extraordinary animal behaviour which had never been witnessed or filmed before.”
So, not ‘Fake News’, then. Phew.