Richard Hammond's Jungle Quest (2015) s01e01 Episode Script

Episode 1

1 It's 1977.
The year the King died.
The Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee.
And punk rock was tearing up the cultural landscape.
But in a quiet West Midlands suburb, a smaller, but no less significant revolution was taking place.
An eight-year-old boy has just been given a book which will change him for ever .
filling his head with dreams of wild locations and even wilder animals.
A book that seeds an ambition - to be a wildlife photographer.
And so begins a lifetime obsession with nature.
And with one place in particular .
the mighty and mysterious Amazon.
As the years go by, the dream stays alive.
And as a teenager, he even gets a Saturday job in a local camera shop.
But then, life gets in the way.
Girls, cars, marriage and children all take him in a different direction.
It's time to put that right.
That boy was me, Richard Hammond - and I'm ready to make up for lost time.
This is the realisation of a childhood dream.
I always was fascinated by nature, fascinated by photography, picture-making, and the idea of being a wildlife photographer was one of those things that other people did, not some kid from Birmingham.
So the plan is I've borrowed some cameras and I'm going to go and try and take some pictures.
In the 38 years since I first became intrigued by the Amazon rainforest, 75,000,000 hectares of it have disappeared.
And it would be awful to think a similar amount had gone by the time today's eight-year-olds reach my age.
So I want to try and create an exhibition of the unique creatures that call the rainforest home.
Photographs that I hope will inspire the schoolchildren that see them.
Great plan, but I hadn't quite appreciated what that would entail.
'Fear' Dear God.
' I can't get my muffin out.
' Going up! That's as far as it can go.
Oh, God.
' Ow! They're already on my back! Ow! God! 'Exhaustionand embarrassment.
'All in the hope of creating a series of pictures 'capable of inspiring the next generation of eight-year-olds' He's just here.
to save this amazing place.
' You can tell what it is! I might have overreached myself! The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest on earth, covering an area about 23 times bigger than Britain - around two and a quarter million square miles.
And it's home to around a tenth of the world's two million species of plants, animals and insects.
That's why I always dreamed of being a wildlife photographer there.
To try and fulfil that dream, I flew to Manaus, the biggest city in the Amazon.
This is a dog with some ropes.
Hee-hee! But dogs aside, I wasn't going to get any wildlife shots there.
So, as quickly as I could, I got out on the water and headed towards the jungle.
I want to photograph animals, I want to take beautiful shots of animals doing stuff.
I'd worked out that wet season would give me the best chance of spotting animals.
But I soon realised just how extreme Brazil's wet season actually is.
I thought this was like grass and bushes, but it's not - that's the tops of the trees.
We're in the canopy - that's how flooded this is.
There's metres of water.
Because of the extreme flooding, the only way for me to experience the jungle was to leave the hotel boat and get onto something smaller.
This is exactly what I saw in my mind as a kid, exactly this! Oh, God! But to have any chance of tracking down animals, I was going to need some expert help.
That's why I brought along this guy.
Eduardo Gomez, who'd been recommended to me as one of the best jungle guides in the business.
I was born in the Amazon, I grew up here, I spent most of my life fishing, hunting.
I don't do that any more.
I hunt only for photographers and cameramen.
Eurgh! Watch out! What? I only moved a millimetre! It's going to be a long afternoon! It only takes Very much! Eduardo's tracking skills and local knowledge were supposedly second to none, so I was in the perfect hands for my first attempt at capturing the rainforest on camera.
It looked really peaceful and calm, but the amount of noise told you there was actually a lot going on.
And Eduardo wasted no time in trying to point out the creatures responsible for all the racket.
Monkeys! Look.
There's three.
Where? Right there, look.
On your left.
Up, up - look! Very big one over there.
It's right there, it's still there.
Look! It's right there, look! Eduardo was pointing stuff out everywhere - "Look, there's a monkey there, "a whatever there, this bird, that bird" Where? Look at that! Straight ahead! That's the crew! No, ABOVE the crew! I can't take a picture, that's no good.
Look, monkeys.
Straight ahead, look! In the sun! Look! On the end of the lens! I needed two bloody camera bodies.
See? Got nothing.
Just sitting there.
Would have been a lovely shot.
I had a wide and that was it.
'I was so happy to be in the Amazon, 'always wanted to go there to photograph it' and there's no doubt, there's so much going on there, it's one of the most bountiful places on earth, just full of life.
But REALLY hard to photograph! I've taken snapshots all my life, but I wasn't used to having so much gear to think about.
All those lenses and things were just getting in the way - it was "all the gear, no idea".
There was a lot of bugs and grime and splashing water, so when you take the lens off the camera and put that under your arm It was The practicalities of it, the logistics, that's not something I've ever had to deal with.
Mostly because as a photographer as a kid, I only had one lens! Beautiful bird over there with a red chest.
See Right there.
You cannot see it? You could tell me, "Look at the panda".
I can't see that.
OK, you can see it, it's behind the leaves over there.
OK, just a moment.
I'm not going to say yes, I can see it.
Oh, there, yes! That's the bird.
I've got the wrong lens on and I can't change it.
I've got this all completely wrong - I needed two cameras - this is not working.
I'm going to go back with no pictures and look a complete arse in front of some disappointed kids who are going to see nothing.
I've lost it.
It's still there.
Oh! Still see it? No.
That's the first time I started to think, "I might not be up to this".
And I sensed Eduardo was starting to think the same.
Coming up, I finally find an animal that I can actually see.
But still struggle to get any sort of decent shot.
It was obvious that photographing the Brazilian rainforest was going to be far harder than I'd imagined.
Somehow, I was going to need easing in a bit more gently.
Luckily, Eduardo came up with a way to help make my wild adventure begin, well just a bit less wildly.
As you can see, we really are a very long way from anywhere, in the depths of the rainforest, probably not another human being for hundreds of miles.
Apart from these ones.
It was a tourist restaurant specialising in these tapioca pancakes that tasted a bit like polystyrene.
In a good way.
But behind the restaurant were gangways that led off into the forest, where Eduardo said the owners regularly put out food to entice in troops of monkeys, so he was pretty confident that if he put me THERE, then I'd see something and at least use the camera in earnest.
Apparently, white-fronted capuchins spend half their waking hours looking for food, so they are suckers for an easy meal.
The problem was, they were just so fast.
Every time I got one lined up, it was gone.
I was just panicking, leaping from one to the other That one! No, he's moved - that one! Quick! It's disappointing.
But I couldn't really blame them for being cautious.
Eduardo reckoned deforestation and hunting had hit these monkeys hard, which explained why they've become just a bit more wary.
Then after a while, I think two things happened - they got used to me and maybe I got used to THEM.
I managed to frame his undercarriage, there.
I don't think anybody particularly needs to see that.
Right, you ARE a little poser.
It's great to see some animals, but I'll be honest Wild though these guys are, they come here because they know they get fed.
It's on the tourist trail.
It doesn't feel like much of an achievement.
And THAT worried me.
It just didn't fit with the sort of childish, magical vision I had of it in my mind.
I wanted to track them through forests and lie in wait for hours and be rewarded with a wonderful photograph.
But, of course, I didn't really know if that's what you DID do.
Chances are, I was being completely unrealistic.
Which is when it struck me for the first time.
Maybe, just maybe, the reality of the rainforest simply wasn't going to match up? Either way, I knew I was still going to have to go back with some pictures.
So I asked the two cameramen on the crew to take a look at my work so far.
We found a quiet spot on the boat and fired up the laptop.
Camera Club came about because, well, we had two professional camera operators with us - why wouldn't I ask them for advice? So, of an evening, Brendan and Simon and I would sit down and we'd go through the shots.
And they weren't always kind! You obviously want it to be a bit tighter there, I suspect.
Yes, Brendan, I do.
You can tell what it is! Is that called damning with slight praise? It really was! I'd say it was a bird, a long way off.
Next! Come on.
I like the clouds.
I was disappointed.
Um Yeah.
But what did I expect? Luckily, my monkey pictures were a bit more successful.
That's fantastic! That's fantastic! Yeah, that's really good.
You get the energy of them.
Yes, but you can't see its head! I doesn't matter, I don't think it matters.
But I've cut its head off! I like that - that's rather more graceful and It's bang in the middle of that headroom.
That's a really strong position.
I like that.
I'd be proud of that image.
So, at the end of today I might have a shot of a monkey? The next morning, I was still having kit trouble.
This bag, which I ordered to bring all my camera kit in, it's too big.
I can't carry that around with me.
This, which is the bag I always carry, is too small.
I'll have to go with this one, so I have to limit what I take.
I've got to decide which lenses I can sensibly use and on that subject Swapping between the lenses, which was costing me opportunities yesterday So I've borrowed another camera body, with which I'm being very careful, because it's Brendon's.
If I break it, he'd be cross.
He carries that for time-lapse or something, I don't know.
But that's the same camera, so I can use my lenses.
What I can't do is get both camera bodies in this bag, it's too small.
'Luckily, I thought I had just the solution back in my cabin.
' Problem solved, mate.
You're not wearing that?! Too much? You've been watching too many wildlife programmes.
It was a solution! Don't take it personal! The vest was a mistake, they were quite fashionable when I worked in the camera shop.
But I was determined that it was time to streamline the kit - I couldn't go lugging all of that stuff around.
I looked around at the crew and for the first time, really thought about it.
Shows how selfish I am! They carry lot - a heck of a lot of stuff.
Maybe my bag wasn't so bad after all.
I was now thinking about photography the entire time.
Everywhere I looked, I was seeing pictures.
Anything and everything was a photo opportunity.
Eduardo, can we stop and have a Can I take some photos here? Of some of these? Yes.
Because they're so unique.
When thinking about the Amazon, it's easy to forget that it's not just home to animals.
'Of the 25 million humans that inhabit the Amazon region of Brazil, 'at least 50,000 live right on the river 'and these aren't tourist attractions - 'they're living, breathing communities, 'with churches, offices, even schools, all floating.
' Here's the school bus.
I really wanted to get a closer look and Eduardo said he half knew a guy who wouldn't mind us visiting.
Hi! That's the basics covered.
'Unfortunately, the basics was all I had.
' How do I say hello? Oi! Boa tarde.
If I say it wrong, am I saying something really? No, it's really good.
Boa tarde.
Boa tarde.
Boa tarde! See? It works! 'Languages aren't really my forte, 'but I did have a backup plan.
' I can get by with the international language of mime.
So this whole house floats? Does this house that floats ever come down onto land? No, it floats only.
This is his floating back yard.
With bananas - they would never survive in the water.
Oh, yeah! So it's a small farm floating! 'The thing about living in a flooded forest is 'Well, it's flooded 'and every one of life's activities must take place afloat.
' Right, we should leave these people in peace, shouldn't we? Can I just say, I'm exhausted.
My brain is hurting.
This taking-photographs business is something I've only ever done as a bit of a hobby.
To suddenly to be doing it, well, semi-professionally .
makes your head hurt.
'I didn't know if it was the concentration or worry 'about getting the pictures, but I hadn't expected it to be so tough.
' 'Coming up, I head back into the flooded forest' This is one of the best moments of my entire life! '.
And succeed in snapping a creature I'd always wanted to see.
' Around a tenth of all animal species on Earth live in Brazil's Amazon rainforest.
But I was finding photographing them a surprisingly tricky proposition.
So much so that the nightly photo review with pro cameramen Brendan and Simon had become a bit of an ordeal.
Stop me as soon as you see something interesting, and just don't you be afraid to call out and say it as soon as you see something that you think might work.
It could be arriving any minute now, there could be a gem.
I'm just going to keep pushing this button.
Any time.
Just I'm punching through the shots, they're coming at you.
Soon as you like.
That one is quite nice.
I like that one.
Quite nice? Good.
I know my way around a camera and I know the basics, the rudiments of making photographs, but photographing wildlife in context? No! I've just taken pictures I like! I've never actually had to try and do something with it, so, yeah, there was a long way to go.
So my expert guide Eduardo came up with a critter that he thought would be wild enough, but slow enough for me to manage.
And it was a creature that had intrigued me ever since I got my nature encyclopaedia as a kid.
Eduardo knew a particular area that he said, "This is Sloth Central.
You'll find them here.
" That's because of the presence of a particular type of tree.
What are they called? "Imba ooba".
Imba ooba? Yeah.
And those are "imba ooba" trees? Yes.
Eduardo? Yes? At what point do I mention the water in the bottom of the canoe? This is your new job! Thank you! I thought I'd be taking pictures! Sometimes you can take pictures.
Eduardo, do you laugh at everything that happens? I think you will be very happy if you have an Amazon as back yard.
Yeah, there's a big spider on that.
It's probably on my lap now.
Just smashed into Brendan! Went straight at him! Sorry! I'm not sorry.
You're enjoying this! I did! 'I was enjoying myself in Sloth Central, 'it's just that I wasn't seeing any sloths.
' So, to amuse myself as we bobbed through the flooded forest, I started looking at all the trees.
Beautiful, this.
'The Amazon is said to have 400 billion trees 'of 16,000 different types.
'And amazingly, 1,000 of those species can survive being 'submerged for almost half the year.
' Absolutely glorious foliage here, this little bit of canopy is fabulous.
There's every different variation of leaf imaginable above us now.
'And I wasn't far wrong.
'Nearly a third of all the tree species on the planet are 'right here, but one in particular caught my eye.
I saw amongst them 'a strangling tree, so it's like a parasitic tree outside of 'another one, a big tangle of branches, and I asked Eduardo' if we could we go and have a closer look at that.
Would that be home to anything? Hm? What would live in there? Bats and snakes, maybe.
Let's take a look.
And the next thing I know, Eduardo's gone and I'm left on my own in the canoe and I look up and there he is, barefoot, because everything has to be done barefoot, climbing the tree.
Gone! Um Eduardo? Yes, sir? I prefer it when you're in the canoe.
What? There is a sloth sleeping right here.
Is there? Yes! I want to see it! See my hands? This is the sloth.
Would I be able to climb that tree, do you think? I'm not going bare feet, though.
I can do it.
Can I pull on this or does this operate a big curtain or something? OK Right.
So How hard can it be? I can get to that one.
This one here? Let's see how these shoes grip, IF they grip.
Will these hold? Now where? Right there.
Just put your leg inside.
The sloth is right in front of you.
Oh! Oh, little mate! Oh, my God! Can you get a picture? Yeah.
Little fella! See it here? There it is.
It was a three-toed sloth, officially the world's slowest mammal and it was brilliant.
They spend most of their time asleep, so catching one having a kip wasn't so surprising, but getting that close - that was truly magical.
This is one of the best moments of my entire life - I might cry.
That's amazing! Right, I have to get back down.
Oh, funny! Funny! You're a funny man! I just Yes? You got it? Yeah.
How was it? That was just AWESOME.
That was full-on schoolboy stuff.
I climbed a strangling tree and photographed a sleeping sloth.
That was Some things, most things, fail to actually measure up to what you imagine they'll be like as an experience.
That did.
I'm not good with spiders and bugs and I didn't care what was in it.
I'm not going to spend the next hour checking the shots, BUT I'm going to make sure I've got at least something.
Mate, that was totally worth it! That was just Really spectacular.
I loved that.
You could touch it, right? It was just It was beautiful.
Doesn't put on a show, the rainforest - you've got to go and find the life that's in it.
They don't come out and dance for you.
It's amazing.
Something's in my shirt.
I've got passengers.
Buoyed by our sloth encounter, we decided to press on deeper into the flooded forest.
I was really feeling like I was getting somewhere.
30 minutes after the sleeping sloth in the tree, I had another encounter that was completely unexpected, sort of round a bend in the trees and there, at eye level was another sloth.
This one not asleep.
Look at that face.
You can stand up.
Stand up.
Yeah, that's what I was going to do.
Just don't want to drop the camera.
Like, I can hear it breathing.
Why is it breathing so loud? Because it is a little bit tired of swimming.
See, she is wet.
She's fantastic.
She's just here! Why isn't she moving away? Because there's no point, she can't run away, can she? No.
So if I were She just hopes for the best? Yeah.
She has no defensive mechanism at all? No, the only defence is the camouflage.
I'd read that sloths are so slow-moving that algae grows on their fur, turning them slightly green.
And up close, I could see how that greenish colour actually adds to their camouflage.
'And that's when I spotted something else.
' Oh, it's got a hand caught! Oh, yeah.
Give me a knife.
I don't have a knife on me.
Hang on, I've got one here.
You got one? You can just break the the vine.
She's completely stuck.
Cut the other one, too.
Yeah, that's good to help.
She was totally tied to the tree.
Now it's going all the way up.
Sloths, they're supposed to be slow-moving things.
Where's she gone? She's shot off.
Let's get a shot of her happier, now.
Yes, she feels very safe up there.
They're more exciting than ever I thought, even as a kid, sloths.
Let's not try and shoot anything fast moving - it'll kill me! Both sloth encounters were much closer to the kind of thing I thought I'd experience - I could see the sort of eight, nine, ten-year-old me watching that, thinking, "Yes! "That's what it's like.
" I'm just photographing this little chap You've got a massive beak, mate! I think he's being quite defensive of his lily pad.
It was a Jacana, a little bird with a big beak and even bigger feet.
Apparently, they spend most of their lives on floating vegetation, using their huge feet to spread the weight so they don't fall through.
And Eduardo reckoned all the commotion was probably because it was protecting its young.
So this little bird is refusing to move .
because we are, apparently, must be quite close to its nest.
I think there's a couple of eggs there, even.
So we shouldn't stay here long.
And to be honest, lovely as the bird is, I'd quite like to photograph the lily pads, because they're one of those things, well, certainly in my childhood, they're a bit Alice in Wonderland.
There's something alien about them.
'The leaves of these waterlilies can be 2½ metres across, 'with channels of air inside to keep them afloat.
'In fact, they're so buoyant, 'they've been known to support the weight of a small child.
' What's that diagram you draw when you do circles and where they intersect is important? Is it a Venn diagram? It's like somebody's detonated a Venn diagram.
Sloths, birds and lily pads - it had been my best day so far.
And I'd got a handful of really great shots.
But then, the weather took a dramatic turn for the worse.
Just as I'd properly got going, my photographic adventure was interrupted by torrential rain.
There isn't really a dry season there - there's a wet season and a not-quite-so-wet season.
Solid rain for days isn't unusual, but there was nothing we could do - we had to try and avoid getting the gear wet, and photography was pretty near impossible.
So I took to my cabin and amused myself flicking through the encyclopaedia that had fired up my interest in wildlife and photography more than 38 years ago.
It's weird to think, and I don't like to think about it, but I'm from an era when my childhood encyclopaedia of nature was illustrated not with photographs, but with drawings - and largely black and white ones.
And yet that was sufficient to inspire me to end up here.
How did it do that? Look - "tree frogs, showing the little suction pads on their toes".
No, they're not, you drew them in! I could do that.
Maybe that was part of it - because they were drawings, close to imaginings, they were more fantastic.
I wanted to see everything in here.
I remember every image.
Eventually, I couldn't bear it any longer.
You don't go to the Amazon and then sit in your cabin.
Keep under there.
So Eduardo came up with something I COULD photograph - even though it was chucking down.
And I was really glad he did, because as soon as we got out on the boat, I realised the rain had changed the rainforest beyond recognition.
When it rains in the rainforest, it's quite a moment, because only then are you suddenly aware of the constant noise that goes on all day and night, the birds and insects - but when it rains, they stop.
Just like we do, when it rains, the animals take shelter and hunker down.
Wet fur or feathers can be heavy and cold, and any chirping or tweeting is pointless against the noise of the downpour.
It's beautiful in the rain.
That is fantastic.
That is even more magical.
So suddenly I'm aware of how much noise there normally is from birds.
Obviously it's quite noisy now, because we're caught in a tree.
How many engines do you get through?! Safely back underway, it wasn't long before we spotted our destination - a floating research station hidden away in a backwater inlet.
It's a tiny place, but it's of world significance in the study of one special rainforest animal.
The scientist had agreed to let me go in close enough to hopefully, maybe, stand a chance of photographing a particularly elusive and wonderful creature.
But it was definitely the trickiest thing I'd attempted up to that point.
Unusual animal, unusual angle, unusual outfit.
Going to prepare self and camera.
I'm not sure we're both going to look our best for this scene, but needs must.
Embarrassing! Yep.
Scientist and photographer, and it's surprisingly cold, actually! What do I do, do I just get in? Where's Eduardo? He said it wasn't cold.
What I should have been worrying about was what was under the surface.
I can see underwater, but the water is very murky.
It was so brown, it was like peering through a mug of cold coffee.
I couldn't see a thing.
Even though I knew they were definitely about.
And they were big.
Really big.
So, in an attempt to bring the creature in a little bit closer, they sent in an assistant - with a fish.
Pink river dolphins are the stuff of legend.
Some locals believe they are shape shifters, looking to whisk lone swimmers away to a magical underwater city.
Hello! Hello.
There's no doubt, though, that they are extraordinary creatures.
The huge bump on their head houses a sensitive sonar system, allowing them to navigate this murky water.
And the long snout lets them pick fish out of submerged trees.
This is a genuinely slightly surreal experience.
Half in, half out of their world.
They are coming to have a look, there's no doubt about it - they're coming to check us out.
They recognise the researchers here cos there's only two people allowed to feed them.
So Who's the funny bloke with this in a bag? Because these are dolphins that live amongst trees, I was especially keen to get a photograph of them half below water and half above, so we could see river and forest in one image.
I may have been a bit ambitious.
Am I dead? Am I dead? No.
The dolphins were incredibly playful and inquisitive.
Moving, really, when you think that human development and pollution have put these animals at serious risk.
Oh, hello! I just photographed my own leg.
Well It's either there, or it isn't.
Through the rain and the plastic bag, I had no way of checking my pictures.
I just had to hope I got something decent, because having had their fill of fish, the dolphins scarpered off back into the trees just as quickly as they'd arrived.
Have they gone? Well, they've got a whole flooded forest to wander through.
It was astonishing being in the water with the dolphins.
I mean Everybody feels something special about dolphins, they are amazing creatures to be near.
These particularly because they're so specialised, they're designed for something unique, they've evolved for particular circumstances - they're dolphins that live in a forest! Despite the cold and rain and standing up to my waist in piranha-infested water, I was pretty happy.
I'd managed to get some decent shots I was really proud of.
And I'd ticked off another of the rainforest creatures I'd been particularly keen to see.
I'd had a good couple of days and I was starting to think I might be able to build up a little bag of photographs to take back with me, but I was also starting to get a very good idea about how long it takes to get even one shot.
For me, even if it was taking me a day to get one shot, and that to most professional wildlife photographers would be unthinkable - it takes weeks.
So the timescale was becoming a bit of a worry.
I felt like I was beginning to get the hang of it In just a few days, I'd captured seven images that our two cameramen thought were strong enough to be displayed in my exhibition.
But I'd worked out that I'd need at least 20 shots to fill my barn and I was already halfway through the trip.
You do make yourself vulnerable if you say, "This is my take on the world.
" I'm not doing this cos I have to, I'm doing it cos I really want to, I want to show you something and then if it's not very good, you have put a little bit of your soul on a plate.
That's how it feels to me.
My job is speaking, talking, making excuses, for myself and everything else.
It's what I do, I can do it for hours.
It's my job.
But to actually put something out there, stand back and leave it to other people to decide, without me there to make excuses for it, is terrifying.
Really, really scary.
That's the truth of it.
I wish I hadn't said I'd bloody do it now! What was I thinking of?! God! Stupid idea! It's scary, it is.
And from there on, it just got scarier.
Because the very next day, we left the relative safety of the river to reach dry land.
'And if I thought the flooded forest was amazing, 'the jungle was something else entirely.
' Cut that bit, don't put it in.
'The next four days 'were just one unexpected experience after another.
' That's exactly what I wanted to do.
'From native tribes' He's asking if you want to try.
Just had lunch.
to natural wonders' Oh, yeah.
That'll do.
Do not steal my boot, do not push me! Argh! '.
hidden dangers' Machete is right here just in case you need it.
Why would I need a machete? '.
to open threats.
' Ah.
THIS is the deforestation we hear about.
'I'd never look at the rainforest the same way again.
' I love it here.
No! I'm covered in biting ants, you stupid rainforest lunatic!