Friday 22nd February, 20.00 and 20.50, BBC2
1.4M/1.5 Viewers, 5.8%/6.3% Audience Share
(Average for 20.30: 2.44M, 12% and 20.30: 2.69M, 12%)
For those of us who've watched this wildlife series over the past 20-odd years, marvelling at the photography and the exotic animals, this edition - first shown on Animal Planet last year - is a very weird creature indeed. Using both archive footage and dramatic reconstructions, it tells the story of a young chimpanzee called Ham, who in 1961 ended up being the first primate to go into orbit - and come back alive. The dramatic elements, depicting the relationship between Ham and his caring soldier handler, are cheesy; but the Nasa archive film of screeching chimps enduring scientific tests and being trained to press levers in response to flashing lights - and to avoid electric shocks - is distressing. Ham and his chimp friends were for two years poked, prodded, locked in confined spaces and subjected to G-forces they'd never experienced back home in the African jungle. It makes for an absorbing slice of space history, but some viewers will still be appalled at seeing any animal treated in this way.
Wild: Great British Parakeet Invasion
Wildlife documentary series. There are estimated to be 30,000 wild parakeets in Britain. Why are they thriving?