Wildest Dreams - A moan by 'Jon on TV'

We thought this review was so amusing that we had to re-post: Dream on. Or something witty like that. Posted on July 27th, 2009 by Jon on TV - a moaning blogger.

“Wildlife film-making is one of the most difficult jobs on earth. Thousands want to do it, but few get the chance. For the first time, the BBC has chosen nine people with ordinary jobs to see if one of them has what it takes to become a wildlife film-maker.”

This is of course the BBC’s newest Apprentice-spinoff style heap of garbage, Wildest Dreams; a show which takes 9 wannabe wildlife filmmakers and promises one of them ‘the ultimate job’ at the BBC’s Natural History Unit. And it’s a fantastic idea – give ordinary people the chance at becoming wildlife film-makers, a career which they could never hope to secured on their own. Only slight problem there is that ordinary people tend to be, by definition, ‘ordinary’.

These aren’t people with photographic backgrounds. They haven’t come fresh from degrees in photography, film production or even media studies – they’re just plain ‘ordinary folk’ who are optimistic delusional enough to think they’ve got the skills required to follow David Attenborough around.

‘Oh, but they’ll learn’ I hear you cry. No they won’t. I learned what a single overhead camshaft was the other day, it still doesn’t mean I’m capable of redesigning an engine. These are people that I wouldn’t trust with my Sony Handycam, but who still expect that in 2 weeks they’ll be the next… famous wildlife film maker person. (I couldn’t think of any)

Anyway, the first ‘task’ of the episode was to go out into the wilderness and film an African Elephant; something which I would have thought was fairly easy to achieve considering they were actually in Africa. So, off they go in their little canoes to try and find the not-so-illusive creatures in the Ocavango Delta; an area which we’re told is the size of Northern Ireland.

So, 2 hours in, have team 1 (lead by single mum Sadia) spotted any elephants? No. But, as the narrator says, ‘it’s a hard first challenge’. No it’s not! Finding an African elephant in a Belfast branch of Staples – that’s a challenge…

But perhaps team 2 have had more luck. …no, they hadn’t. “The whole nature of wildlife is that it’s very wild”, ex-public schoolboy James helpfully explains. Clearly that expensive education wasn’t in vain.

Surprisingly enough the 3rd team hadn’t found any either. But not to worry, they’ve got the right man for the job of elephant spotting – “Factory worker Alan has a keen eye for detail – he works nights checking customer details in a Rotherham clothing factory”. I could so easily make a joke about elephants and the dress sizes of people from Rotherham here…
Back to camp they all go, ready to be judged by the zoologist equivalents of Nick, Margaret and Sir Alan – or in this case wildlife film maker James Honeyborne, some woman who seems to know a lot about Elephants, and Nick Knowles from DIY SOS. Obviously.
It turns out only one team managed to get some elephant footage, and it was rubbish. So after a patronising little speech from Honeyborne…they were sent out again to find some meerkats. So after 10 minutes of watching them search, did they find any?

If you haven’t worked it out yet, this is on the whole a very uneventful programme. But it’s ok, apparently, because ‘that’s the nature of wildlife film making’. It might well be, but it doesn’t mean I want to watch 60 minutes of people not managing to film things....

Read the rest of this review at Jon on TV


  1. Anonymous4:44 PM

    this review of wildest dreams is very true, one particularly annoying part of the programme is that they describe one of the contestants as an "ex public schoolboy" , what a stupid way of describing someone, is that all he has achieved in life? Its like saying about one of the other contestants, "ex state schoolgirl kylie". or "ex international schoolchild bob". Everyone goes to school!! A truly crap programme and James Honeyborne comes across as an arrogant twat. What are the odds that any of the contestants are still in wildlife film-making in 2 years? nil.

  2. Chris Cooper6:58 PM

    I agree with previous comment. This programme us terrible. How can they justify finding new staff through such a terrible series when we hear that many of the talented staff of the BBC Wildlife department have been made redundant.

  3. Anonymous4:00 AM

    Agree. Rubbish.

  4. Paul A5:14 PM

    I think the show is great. Inspirational and insightful. James is excellent and says it how it is. He is plain speaking and obviously knows what he's talking about. Nick Knowles wouldn't be my choice - isn't he a builder? What about all those brilliant presenters who actually know about wildlife?

  5. It's a brave show and sometimes brave, bold ideas need time to settle in. I mean, not many corporations make so many staff redundant and then seek to replace them with game show contestants. That epitomizes the sort of left-field thinking we need more of in the TV industry.

  6. Thanks Bill. I like your positive spin!

  7. Zoe Field5:38 PM

    I loved Jon's review. Maybe he should have been a contestant on the show? At least he has a way with words and can tell a tale...which is more than any of the contestants can do - STory telling is an essential talent for any film maker and all of these no hopers are crap at it! Oh and none of them seem to know one end of a camera from the other. It's so bloody infuriating - why wasn't I a contestant huh? Pick me! pick me!
    My only consolation is that whoever wins the job will likely not be let loose with any piece of equipment more technical than the kettle for a very long time (If the BBC has ANY sense at all).
    The filming Dolphins in the wild would have been my ultimate dream, I can't believethat 2 of the contestants were too mardy to even be allowed in to film. As I said earlier - 'Pick me!'

  8. Anonymous2:46 PM

    Quelle surprise..........the Northener didn't win!
    The programme was ok. Some great scenery and nice people ( apart from the two arrogant,supercilious idiots that were 'in charge'). 7/10 in my opinion

  9. I managed to watch all the programmes albeit with the I-player. I don't understand why the BBC didn't make more of it - after all it ran over 10 weeks, nearly the same as Endomol's Big Brother. Instead a week's activity was compressed into an hour which meant that pretty much everything that happened was left out and as it was a competition it's not ideal repeat material (though I see they're having a go!) They could have had a couple of one hour programmes per week with members of the large support team and a bit more input from the local support e.g. (and especially) the african guides who deal with the local animals on a daily basis.

    Apparently more than 12,000 people applied for this competition - oblivious to the fact that it was something of a smokescreen for the swingeing cuts in the BBC's Natural History film unit announced in 2007. You quietly remove a quarter of the unit's staff and make a whole TV series about appointing an intern... It was originally promoted as "to the ends of the Earth" but that then got cut down to "just" Africa. I spy budget cuts!

  10. I think some of the comments made above about James Honeyborne are too harsh. I don't think he gained much from the super-compressed nature of the programme format which inevitably portrayed him as something of a hanging judge. He didn't go into natural history filming to appear on programmes like this. Read Nick Knowles account of it on his personal website and you can see that James Honeyborne had a tough time of it. Nick Knowles by contrast came across as the media reptile he is. But he's a professional presenter and that was what he was paid to do. If they wanted someone more compassionate and caring they could have asked Simon Cowell.

    See http://www.nickknowles.com/news/2009/03/19/brand-new-bbc1-show-goes-to-the-ends-of-the-earth/

  11. Wildest Dreamer5:32 AM

    Quote from Nick Knowles website under the heading of dislikes: 'Traffic Wardens, people who crap on about their relationships in the press, gizmos, BMWs, bigots, reality TV shows and manufactured pop.' WAS'NT WILDEST DREAMS A 'REALITY SHOW'. He is such a rent-a-presenter!! Why oh why the BBC used him for WD is beyond me.

  12. Anonymous5:33 PM

    you are obviously some bum who has never been on safari let alone knows anything about wildlife. otherwise youd know that sometimes you can be driving through the masai mara, kruger national park etc for hours before you see an african elephant, whereas sometimes you can see at least one every 10 minutes. unfortunately, with regard to wildlife they dont just pop up when we want them to and sit there and say cheese for photos. so dumbass jon who is the real obnoxious twat???