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Ray's on a wild-grouse chase

"Is that the police? I...I'd like to get a restraining order."

"Calm down sir, and give me the details."

"Well, it's this intense, beefy guy with an anorak and binoculars. He's been following me for some time. I believe he even filmed me from a tent while I made love to my lady wife. He also seems to be fascinated by my poo. I think he might be collecting it."

"That's certainly worrying. What's your name?"

"I don't have a name, officer. I'm a highland grouse. His name is Ray Mears."

"I'm sorry, but there are no laws against Ray Mears spying on a grouse. Sadly, there's nothing we can do..."

Cut to a close-up shot of the grouse as he drops his phone (an old-fashioned rotary dial with a curly cord). His little eyes open wide with terror as a string section stabs in the background and he drops to his knees (do grouse have knees?).


"No! No!" he cries/gurgles.

Behind a nearby bush, Ray Mears smiles, turns to camera and says "see how his chest is puffed out and his feathers are splayed".

In a more grouse-centric universe, last night's edition of Wild Britain with Ray Mears would be a terrifying made-for-television movie about stalking. In this universe, Mears's interest in grouse love is seen as part of a worthy mission to introduce sedentary couch-potatoes to the wonders of nature.

In this episode, as well as documenting grouse, Mears also encounters reindeer, discusses the winter coat of a mountain hare, ruminates about the birds-eye view of a hovering eagle, and examines lashings and lashings of animal poo (he's the Gillian McKeith of the animal world). "Look at this pellet, isn't it amazing," he says of one fist-sized lump of eagle-shit.

Nonetheless, the landscape looks beautiful, the accompanying soundtrack is elegiac and Mears himself is a fascinating specimen. Indeed, I'm tempted to hide in a ditch and observe his mating habits before trying to get a sample of his poo.

None of the creatures in Wild Britain are computer-generated. This is not the case in Megapython Vs Gatoroid, a one-off horror drama (not a nature documentary) in which the monsters of the title look less real than stop-motion Claymation dinosaurs from the 1970s. Then again, the programme's heroes are similarly unreal, played, as they are, by 1980s teen pop starlets Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.

I'll pause for a moment so you can reread that last sentence.

Tiffany and Debbie Gibson deliver their lines in a charmingly untrained (inept) fashion, while a colourful cast of character-actors over-compensate around them ("Bubba, no!" shrieks one redneck in an Oscar-worthy response to a python eating a dog).


Debbie Gibson plays an ecology expert who releases computer-generated pythons into the swamp.

Tiffany is a sheriff who tackles the python problem by feeding experimental steroids to a bunch of alligators. As she says herself: "What could go wrong?"

Soon Debbie Gibson and Tiffany are having an extended, clothes-ripping cat fight, while Micky Dolenz from the Monkees (playing himself) is eaten by a Megapython and the townsfolk are devoured by slavering Gatoroids. If this operates as a clever metaphor for anything, I can't quite figure it out ( ... is it the eurozone crisis?).

Advances in CGI technology have led to a raft of terrible made-for-TV creature-features, but Megapython vs Gatoroid is camp, self-aware and weirdly compelling. "I think we're alone now," says Debbie Gibson to Tiffany, as they wade through a swamp in their mini-skirts. "There doesn't seem to be anyone around," agrees Tiffany, echoing the words of her 1987 hit.

Before long she's being savaged by Gatoroids while Debbie Gibson is ripped in two by the severed head of a Megapython. You don't get this sort of thing on Wild Britain.

Wild Britain with Ray Mears HHHII

Megapython vs Gatoroid HHHII