Wednesday, 14 Nov 2018
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Sir David Attenborough's crew reveal jungle torment filming new BBC show

Sir David Attenborough's crew suffered two-and-a-half-years of jungle torment filming his new BBC show dealing with snakes, scorpions, blood-sucking flies – and swarms of bees.

New series Dynasties looks at the family lives of emperor penguins, lions, wolves and tigers in dwindling habitats – with episode one focusing on alpha male chimp

But it was the creepy-crawlies that pushed the team to breaking point in the steaming West African jungles of Kedougou Region in south-east Senegal.

The crew regularly woke up at 3.30am to trek 15 miles to find the troop of endangered chimps.

Each of these products has more than 80kg of kit and five liters of water a day to avoid dehydration and heatstroke.

Stingless bee was a constant bread for crew

Then they would sit motionless for nine hours filming in the 40⁰F heat – unless they were attacked by bugs and bees.

Producer and director Rosie Thomas said: "The number of things we face is ridiculous – like blood sucking mosquitos and tsetse flies.

"They're bad – but the sweat bees were horrendous.

"The small stingless bees swarm around you trying to get to anything that's moist.

"They go in your mouth, in your eyes, in your hair – they're the most irritating things. Then there are the stinging bees – honey bees. If the chimps have been stepped up we should not be ashamed to go to the opposite direction as we would chase you for miles to sting you. It was horrendous. "

Sir David Attenborough will host the show

The crew also had to avoid snakes and scorpions as they trekked through the jungle.

Rosie, 38, said: "It's incredibly hot, you've to walk incredibly long distances carrying everything – it's tough.

"Both the cameramen and I have heard of different types of diseases, but we do not know what they are.

"We're all right now, but we're up in the UK after one shoot or another."

The crew regularly woke at 3.30am to trek 15 miles to find the troop of endangered chimps

But Rosie insists that the trials of filming will feel good when viewed at the final result, starting tomorrow night.

She hopes the Dynasties will bring back to life their world – and their diminishing habitats – as 92-year-old Sir David's previous series Blue Planet II.

The series last year to a boost for the campaign to clear the oceans of plastic.

"When you realize this is what these animals go through it's quite extraordinary," said Rosie.

In West Africa, mineral mining has risen in recent years.

"We're trying to raise awareness that it's going to become more of a reality.

"Hopefully people will engage with these issues and feel what these animals have gone through."

  • Dynasties begins on Sunday night at 8.30pm on BBC One.

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