Why the Frozen Planet controversy is misplaced…

Stop the complaining already!

You would be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t heard the controversy over the most recent episode of Frozen Planet. The issue relates to a short sequence that was filmed with animals in captivity rather than the wild; supposedly misleading the viewer into thinking they were watching polar bear cubs in the wild.

You would also be hard pressed to find anyone who really thinks this is a problem.

Why has a short sequence no longer than a few minutes, taken in the context of a SEVEN HOUR documentary series caused so many column inches and so-called outrage? What would the complainants have really wanted to happen? The potential death of a cub or camera man? That would have been a strong possibility if any attempt had been made to film this footage in the animal’s natural habitat.

Frozen Planet is a stunning series, the vast majority of which captures real wildlife where it should be. But it’s also an amazingly engaging story – each episode tells a tale and it would have been amiss to leave out the crucial footage of the baby bears in their den. Technically, the only really safe way of doing this was the way it WAS done. Frozen Planet also follows the template set by other series, such as Planet Earth, providing the viewer with a ten minute glimpse into the effort the team went to to capture the footage and present it in such a thought provoking way. Part of the arguement made by those unhappy with the recent broadcast is that there was no mention made of the footage captured in captivity, but the fact is the only reason this information is in the public domain is that it was included in supporting material on the series own website.

What is more worrying is that a small issue has been blown up to such an extent by such a small number of people. Why conjure up complaints about some of our best television just to further an agenda? It would be such a massive disappointment if this kind of stirring had a detrimental effect on the methods and morale of the people who work tirelessly in such adverse conditions to bring us one of the most visually and emotionally striking programmes on the BBC. It would be even more of a shame if this lead to production crews taking risks to ensure they capture footage in the wild.

There are plenty of things the BBC do wrong that do need criticism and addressing so why not target the column inches at that? Why complain about what was a tiny sequence in a much larger whole; one which was actually highlighted by the Beeb. Why should they be forced to defend something that was done in the best interest of the animals, the crew AND the viewer? We want MORE TV like this, we don’t want the producers to take unnecessary risks OR to play it safe and with Frozen Planet they’ve got the perfect balance, let’s not upset that.

Colin Polonowski

Updated: Dec 13, 2011

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Why the Frozen Planet controversy is misplaced… | The Digital Fix