Tune in, switch off - Wild things

3rd April 2009 at 01:00

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'd stay there, if I were you. Stranded in Grizzly Country is a tale of extreme physical endurance that will keep you glued to your seat. You'll certainly think twice before booking your next weekend break in Alaska after watching this documentary - part of More4's Alive series.

"We were just gonna have fun," says Blake, as he reminisces about the wreckage that was his father Neil's 65th birthday expedition. All was planned by this foolishly stubborn youth.

"Do you really wanna share this with 10 strangers and a tour guide?" Blake asks his father as they set out. Prophetically wise, Dad admits he does. I'm with Neil every time.

It's a mad scheme: just the two of them, thousands of miles of Sarah Palin wilderness and a 90-mile float by raft, with no mobile phone or radio contact. Oh, and I nearly forgot - the grizzly bears. On this bargain break, the local inhabitants "tear your head off with one bite". That's if the hypothermia doesn't get you. Assuming you pull through after spending minutes under the ice floe, almost choking to death.

This is fun, because I love watching other people's mess-ups and then feeling less guilty about my own. But I'd never put young Blake in charge of my Duke of Edinburgh teams without trebling the insurance. And Neil would never have got Saga to cover him either.

As Blake goes off for help, the only question is whether he will be able to cross the river before his father's fire goes out. Well, everything that can go wrong does. The reconstruction is full of bubbling underwater shots and fast-paced music to make our hearts race like this duo on adrenalin.

The real Blake re-lives the agonies of the experience, as his tears movingly show. Rescue arrives, but only after I have had a second cup of cocoa and turned the central heating up ridiculously high.

I once got this close to nature on a tiny rowing boat on the Zambezi in Chobe National Park in Botswana. The hippos began coming up for air and snorting water. Afterwards the boatman prostrated himself and gave thanks to his god.

In The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Mma Ramotswe, Botswana's answer to Lewis, provides light relief. Forget Monday morning and the grizzly bears you have to teach and wallow instead in this sunny world of smiles, solutions and occasional sin.

It's Sunday evening children's TV for grown-ups, as sweet and colourful as the pick 'n' mix in Woolworths used to be - an imaginary world that never existed and never will. So, if you are sitting comfortably, let the plot unfold

Ray Tarleton is principal at South Dartmoor Community College in Ashburton, Devon

Pub Quiz Answers: 1 Shaun Woodward 2 Gavin and Stacey 3 Portobello Road 4 David Sheppard 5 Japan 6 Madison 7 World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF 8 Jennifer Aniston 9 St James's Gate Brewery 10 Twin brother.

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