Extinct - The Final

Extinct - The Final
Saturday night, 8:30 - 9:30pm
(4.1million, 18.1% Audience share)

Extinct - The Quiz
Saturday 4 - 5pm.
(1 million, 8.6% Audience share)

Text the studio. Save a species
Independent On Sunday - 17/12/2006, Hermione Eyre:
Extinct has been a week-long ITV wildlife extravaganza with a big heart and an even bigger sense of its own importance. It welcomed viewers with footage of orangutans, pandas and polar bears, followed by the words: “You can save them from extinction.” We can? Just by texting a premium rate number and exchanging the word “Myleene” for “Hyacinth Macaw”? Yes, just when you thought only a complex series of international negotiations involving a reluctant United States’s ratification of the Kyoto Treaty would stop global warming and save the polar bear, along comes an ITV gameshow that can do it single-handedly. Phew.

Please excuse my cynicism. The programme had many very good aspects. In a week when the white dolphin was declared extinct, it raised public awareness about the seriousness of the situation. Its short films about specific animals’ fights for survival were superb, and it often brought home a heart-stopping fact (“fewer than 720 mountain gorillas remain”). Who could deny that it is better, certainly, to spend £3 texting ITV for a screensaver of an orangutan – a whole 50p of that went to the World Wildlife Fund, you know – than it is to spend £3 on bushmeat at Hackney market? But there is something a bit strange about any show that plays the giant turtle off against the Bengal tiger in a televised popularity contest. Only one of the eight nominated creatures could win (to be fair, the others got half the proceeds from the show divided amongst them, a bunch of mangy losers though they were). It was conservation played by the rules of the playground.

Celebrities were involved, of course, each championing a different beast. The polar bears had Anneka Rice, the hyacinth macaws Michael Portillo. I hear the orangutans were a bit sore that they got Sadie Frost. “We were hoping for a Barry Humphries,” said a spokesman from the primate community, “but you can’t have everything.” Frost did rather well on her trip to Borneo, actually – but I can’t resist a little celeb carping. The programme did seem to invite it.

And poor Trevor MacDonald. As he delivered the words “Remember, the animals are depending on us”, you can see that a small voice inside his head is saying “isn’t this a little OTT?” Yes, Sir Trevor, it was – but don’t worry. We blame the autocue writer.

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