There was uproar back in 2011 when it was revealed that scenes from David Attenborough’s epic series Frozen Planet purporting to show polar bear cubs in their den were, in fact, shot in a zoo. But now Sir David’s favourite cameraman has revealed that the practice is commonplace when it comes to capturing the behaviour of smaller animals and that the BBC should be “proud” of such work.
“The Beeb did not handle it well,” said Doug Allan of the Frozen Planet controversy, adding that the methodology should have been flagged “more obviously at the time”.
“Be proud of it and then I think people would have felt less deceived,” said the cameraman, who Sir David has described as the most “special” he has worked with.
Speaking to an audience at the Cheltenham Literature Fetsival, Allan said he refused to ever film very small animals in their natural habitats and that it took great skill to capture footage even in a purpose built set.
“You can’t make a film about mice by just going into a meadow,” he said. “You need to introduce them to a safely built set in which they will be happy. A lot of these films will be entirely in conditions similar to the polar bear. There’s a lot of skill in doing that.”