Award winning nature filmmaker John Downer has revealed some of the secrets behind the making of the new wildlife documentary series Penguins - Spy In The Huddle, which will be narrated by David Tennant. In a feature in today's Daily Mail, Downer explains how he used 'Penguin-cams' - robot penguins with cameras hidden in their eyes - to infiltrate colonies of Rockhopper, Humboldt and Emperor penguins to obtain unique close up footage of the birds. In all, 50 different spy cameras were used to film penguins in Antarctica, Peru and the Falkland Islands, including and Egg-cam and versions of the Penguin-cam that could waddle, slide and even swim with the colonies. The 300 day shoot has captured never before seen penguin behaviours. Read the full Daily Mail article here
The three-episode series Penguins - Spy In The Huddle will be shown on BBC One starting from Monday 11th February at 9pm. View a preview clip from the BBC here:
John Downer Productions have also posted details of the first episode on their website.
Programme 1: The Journey
Emperor penguins cross a treacherous frozen sea to reach their breeding grounds, on the way one becomes lost in a blizzard. Once there, the females hilariously flipper flight over the males and those that succeed “waddle walk” with their partners. They must lay their eggs without touching the ice but it’s the males that face the greatest challenge – overwintering alone in the coldest place on earth.
Rockhoppers brave the world’s stormiest seas only to come ashore and face a daunting assault up a 300-foot cliff, hopping most of the way up. Having laid their eggs, these plucky birds face airborne attacks from skuas and vultures
Humboldts are a strange tropical penguin that has rarely been filmed. To reach their desert nests they negotiate 20,000 predatory sea lions, dodge vampire bats and battle half a million sharp-beaked seabirds.
The hard work for all the penguins finally pays off when their tiny, vulnerable chicks begin to hatch.
Among the spycameras capturing unique behaviour is a technological first – robotic penguins with cameras for eyes.