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TV review: Great Bear Stakeout and 10 O'Clock Live

Entertainment | Published:

Given its rather jokey title and the fact that Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly was providing the narration, it was no surprise that the Great Bear Stakeout hardly compared with David Attenborough at his best.

Grizzly bear and cub trying to survive in snowy Alaska

What we got, in fact, was nature as soap opera.

That is not to say it didn't have tremendous production values, great close-up shots of bears doing whatever bears do in the wild and some spectacular scenery on the Alaskan coast.

But at heart, this was a soap opera with bears instead of actors – and far cheaper I'll warrant.

There was Diana, the mother bear with her two-and-a-half year-old cub Solo, who rapidly found himself solo when mum dumped him to go haring off after one of the fit young male bears that occupy this verdant corner of Alaska.

Then there was young Parsnip, initially making a bit of Horlicks of this whole motherhood lark.

Within the first few minutes she managed to lose one of her cubs and later decided to find safety up a cliff with her remaining youngster, Pushkie.

This turned out to be a bad move as she found herself almost nose to nose with a very big and aggressive male who fortunately spotted another likely female he fancied and wandered off.

Parsnip, hardly a candidate for mum of the year at this point, then decides to take her tiny cub for a one mile swim in the freezing sea to find safety on a nearby island. Against all the odds, and her own track record, this turned out to be a success, giving them weeks of lonely security away from an ever-expanding horde of grumpy, rampant bears on the prowl for a mate.

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And very cute mum and cub looked, romping around on the grassy hillside.

But the stars of the show turned out to be a couple that even the resident bear expert, Chris Morgan, described as 'twisted'.

Boss of the beach was a huge grizzly the show dubbed Van, probably because he looked to be the size of a Transit. Normally he would have been expected to be wandering around mating with every female that moved, but instead was obsessing over a wanton minx called Alice.

Talk about femme fatale. At one point she does the dirty on Van with some sneaky young male. When a decidedly unhappy Van comes across the lovers, she promptly turns around and chases the boyfriend off, apparently trying to act the innocent party. And not so bright Van buys it.

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This is all soap comedy, but it turns much darker when aggression between the two hits a peak. In a scene out of some dark late-night thriller, Van kills an innocent female and he and Alice almost immediately consummate their relationship.

Even the naturalists and camera crew were taken aback. "They're more like Bonnie and Clyde than Van and Alice," says a shocked Chris Morgan. I was thinking more along the lines of Macbeth and his missus!

Like every soap opera, it leaves you dying to find out what happens next and I'll be glued to the next episode tonight.

It probably doesn't impress proper naturalists, but it's great television.

I'll have no such wish to catch up with the next edition of 10 O'Clock Live. Humour and satire don't come much flatter than this.

The series has returned more than a week after Margaret Thatcher's funeral but, despite missing the boat, our hip funsters efforts to drum up some fresh laughs at her expense came across as pretty desperate.

David Mitchell hosted a half decent debate on Thatcher's legacy and Charlie Brooker got in some decent swipes at the idiocies of the Twittersphere in the wake of the Boston bombing, but Jimmy Carr was just tiresome and Lauren Laverne spent most of her time trying to keep the whole thing on track while working with some fairly thin material.

As many of my teachers used to say, "Must try harder".

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