1 9 5 6 – 1 9 6 8 (UK)
500+ x 25 minute episodes
With videotape and film expensive, and technology limited in television until the early 1960s, the bulk of this animal information programme came in the form of live outside broadcasts.
This approach overcame the problems inherent in introducing large and uncooperative animals to a cramped television studio every week. Even so, live television and even more live animals brought the occasional awkward moment.
Dr Desmond Morris, helped by various animal experts and zoo staff, hosted the programme from ‘The Den’, an outside broadcast unit situated behind the Bird House at Regent’s Park Zoo, London.
Morris’s live commentary and animal information linked relatively static camera shots of the various parts of the zoo. Occasional editions came live from Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire.
The programme relocated to Chester Zoo in the North West from July 1967, no doubt in order to justify Granada’s “From the North” tag as the 1968 ITV franchise renewals loomed. Granada newsman Chris Kelly assumed presenting duties.
The programme reflected attitudes of the day, with no suggestion of the modern school of thought that questions keeping animals in captivity in zoos.