Attenborough row snowballs as BBC recycles avalanche scene

A BBC spokesperson said the decision to re-use footage was a cost-cutting exercise and ensured "value for money" for viewers. Photo / 123RF
A BBC spokesperson said the decision to re-use footage was a cost-cutting exercise and ensured "value for money" for viewers. Photo / 123RF

Fans of new television programme Planet Earth II were left disappointed after it emerged the BBC had recycled scenes of an avalanche that had been used in the series 10 years ago.

The new episodes of the acclaimed nature programme returned to British screens at the start of the month, with David Attenborough narrating once again. But one of the most impressive shots of a deluge of snow plummeting down a mountain face in an episode was later discovered to be footage used in the first series, in 2006.

A BBC spokesperson said the decision to re-use footage was a cost-cutting exercise and ensured "value for money" for viewers.

"In natural history programming, we sometimes augment our sequences with footage which was originally shot for other productions. We are always conscious of the need to manage budgets on our projects carefully. Sharing or re-using footage is one of the ways we ensure the licence fee payer gets the best value for money, and enables us to use our budgets to maximise the amount of truly extraordinary, new animal behaviour and natural phenomena in our series."

The scene following the avalanche sequence showed a family of grizzly bears appearing to emerge from the snow before walking down the slope.

Mike Gunton, the BBC 1 show's executive producer, said directors had been careful not to link the story about the animals to the avalanche. He told the Mirror: "We don't ever say that those bears are on the same slope as the avalanche that you just saw. We are saying " generically " that avalanches are a problem."

However, Sir David's narration describes the bear's situation by saying: "The debris from an avalanche is clear evidence this slope is still dangerously unstable."

The same episode came under fire a few days ago after it emerged footage of a golden eagle flying over mountains was partly filmed using a captive bird. The BBC said the scenes were filmed by a parachuting cameraman in the Alps but some footage from the eagle's perspective was filmed using a bird from a sanctuary.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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