Natural World: Cheeky Monkey

Tuesday November 25
Tonight’s Natural World (8:00, BBC2)

'Cheeky Monkey' is David Attenborough's entertaining romp through the world of “the cheeky monkey.” When humans look at monkeys we can, if we look hard enough, see ourselves. From memory to morality, from 'crying wolf' to politics, monkeys are our basic behavioural blueprint. Thus, in tonight's show we get a glimpse of pygmy marmosets 'farm' tree sap; bearded capuchins in Brazil developing a form of a production line for extracting nuts; other capuchins in Costa Rica tenderly nursing the victims of a battle and, in the Ethiopian highlands, a refugee baboon has got the blues. Baby. If he starts singing “woke up this morning,” I’ll be impressed. I think, on reflection, my favourite monkey has to be Peter Tork.

By Keith Topping


  1. Tinkerbell Rappenstein8:20 AM

    Cute little archive film, I enjoyed it as a casual viewer but it was a bit too anthropomorphic at times. I'm sure those macaques where huddling together because they were sleepy and not because they were sad that the young monkey had just been killed by the monitor lizard (which I suspect was a bit concocted anyway). David A was also acting as a translator, telling us what the monkeys were thinking - wow, he surely is a modern day Dr Doolittle, and has greatly advanced primatology if he knows that.

  2. I thought I knew a fair amount about monkeys already, but a BBC wildlife documentary last night still had some surprises for me. The documentary is ouststanding even by the BBC's usual standards for this kind of thing. I dare say it will be broadcast in most countries sooner or later (iplayer or equivalent required).

  3. Marianne Lindsell6:47 AM

    What a gem the Natural World series is.
    I wonder if anyone can tell me why the BBC seems so reluctant to release most of their archived Natural World episodes on DVD? I have the 6 episode DVD (excellent) they released within the last year or so, but there are so very many more. I have followed the series since the early 1980s and remember many fantastic episodes, which I would love to see again. Am I the only one to feel this way?

    Does anyone know anyone in the BBC who would be interested in this comment?

    Best wishes to all,

    Marianne Lindsell

    PS. Anyone remember the following from the 1980s? They are some of my personal favourites (to name but a few):
    Flight of the Condor (3 eps) (very atmospheric)
    Kingdom of the Ice Bear (3 eps)
    Okavango - Jewel of the Kalahari (3 eps)
    Ichkeul - Between the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea

    Has anyone else noticed how the character of the series has changed subtlely over the years?

  4. Natural World9:33 AM

    See our new article for more on Cheeky Monkeys. Have a look at the full review at Giantsorbiting to get involved in the debate on the theory of mind and anthropomorphism.