Wildlife series. A behind-the-scenes look at how the series is filmed, from where the team eat and sleep to the extreme measures they have to take as they travel.
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My name's Steve Backshall, and this is my search for the Deadly 60.
That's not just animals that are deadly to me...
but that are deadly in their own world.
My crew and I are travelling the planet, and you're coming with me
every step of the way!
This time, we're in Costa Rica in Central America, Mozambique,
South Africa, Namibia, Uganda, Madagascar,
Thailand, Mexico, Philippines, Norway, Transylvania in Romania.
This time on Deadly 60,
we're in the Ibera Wetlands in Northern Argentina.
In making Deadly 60,
our aim has been to bring you animals
from every single environment on Earth.
And sometimes, deadly animals live in truly deadly places.
Ow! This actually bit me right through the suit!
If she gets any closer, don't move a muscle.
Sometimes, it's a challenge just keeping the cameras working,
let alone managing to film rare and secretive animals.
So if you think it's all fun, and we're basically on big holidays
round the world, think again.
I give you Deadly 60, The Making Of.
But the story doesn't start in the jungles or deserts.
It all begins back at Deadly 60 HQ,
at the Natural History Unit in Bristol.
Through the reception, across the car park and up some stairs,
this is where the production team research,
plan and organise everything we need to film the programme.
From fixers, Visas, plane tickets, camera equipment to accommodation
and even our clothing, because after all, you don't want to be stuck
in a freezing Norway in your underpants! Argh!
These behind the scenes guys are vital to the making of Deadly 60.
One thing that needs very careful planning by the team
is how we get about, because we pretty much need to use
every mode of transport going.
boats...stubborn horses, even bright pink buses.
It's the beautiful Backshall mystery tour bus!
Where it goes, nobody knows!
Even face-freezing skidoos and a plane or two.
One of my old haunts I was keen to return to
was south western Costa Rica.
There are few places in the world with such exciting wild animals.
-That was amazing!
Can I have another go? It is all right?
You want another go?!
But wild places are,
by their very nature, a long, long way away from civilisation.
It took us three days of hard travelling just to get
to the coast, and from there, the only way on was by small boats.
Everyone was exhausted, and wondering
if it was going to be worth it.
We needn't have worried.
Look at this! Whoo-hoo! These are spotted dolphins.
It's a massive group,
stretching out for hundreds of metres in every direction.
Any day when you see dolphins is a good day as far as I'm concerned.
It was almost as if the dolphins had swam out to welcome us.
The best start we could ever hope for!
Shame they couldn't help us ashore with all the kit!
Half a ton of expedition and filming stuff, and the only transport
-was people power.
-Just managed to come in through the waves.
We're slowly going to unload everything very carefully.
There's a lot of gear here that
we don't want to get too wet.
So that's basically what we're doing at the moment.
And this is going to be our home for the next five days.
These cases contain a host of different cameras. Long lenses for
filming far away animals, tiny ones for getting into insy-winsy holes.
Honestly, what kind of fool would bring a suitcase to the rainforest?
But all this technology will be pointless
if I can't find us some animals!
Just down in front of me is one the most feared animals
found in the Americas.
With venomous snakes like the fer-de-lance lurking
in the leaf litter, we have to keep our wits about us.
Look at that!
This is truly what you call a croc-infested river.
In the rainforest, the absolute prime time for wildlife is after
the sun has set, when everything comes out to play.
At night, the rainforest comes alive with a whole new cast of characters,
and a lot of them like to shout about it.
-This bullfrog has a warning squeal
that's said to attract crocodiles.
We've already seen there's a croc round here somewhere.
Oh, that's some strength.
Look at that!
And there he is!
Heading off with his dinner.
And what a finale.
Lightening strike, crocodile,
American crocs are going on the Deadly 60!
You may have noticed that it rains a lot here,
but when we're filming Deadly 60, that doesn't stop us.
This is the rainforest, after all, and if you waited for blue skies,
you'd never get out of your hammock.
But all of this rain mixed with the heat takes its toll on our cameras,
and sometimes they just refuse to work anymore.
Anyone got a hairdryer handy?
So we all got up at four o'clock this morning
to get out and film the sun rising.
Overnight, the camera seems to have died and we think it's the humidity.
It feels really hot and steamy,
like after you've had a hot shower in the bathroom.
It's kind of like what humidity is.
It's not very good for electronics. So, unfortunately,
we're resorting to a hairdryer
to warm up the camera and get rid of any moisture
that might be inside the camera.
So, fingers crossed this'll work.
It's lucky the boys brought their hairdryer, I tell you.
But just as important as taking care of the equipment
is taking care of ourselves.
When feet are wet all day long, they literally start to rot,
and if you can't walk, you can't film.
In my opinion, this is the worst moment of working in the jungle.
Taking off soaking wet socks.
In the evenings, you're nice and dry,
then the next morning you have to put on your wet socks.
It's absolutely grim.
Soaking wet! Miserable, smelly socks that you've got to keep on all day.
Careful, guys, there's a bit of mud here.
From the sticky gooey forests
to the shifting sands of the deserts,
to the African savannah,
every environment has a whole different set of challenges.
Even the cold places are just as bad,
but let's go back to places
that are truly scorching, like here in Namibia.
In order to get around that, you'll notice all the guys
have hats on and sunglasses, looking rather natty here.
Alternatively, you can cover yourself in sunblock.
That might be a little bit excessive!
-I can't get it off now!
-That's going to take some rubbing in!
Making sure you hydrate yourself with lots of water,
and taking care to keep in during the hottest parts of the day.
Something that we haven't managed yet!
It's a tough job!
With deserts, it's not just the heat that scuppers us. It's sand.
Imagine having a picnic on the beach with the wind blowing hard.
Sand gets into everything, as we found while filming sidewinders
in the Namibian desert.
The sidewinder makes getting about on the hot,
ever-shifting surface of these dunes look easy.
I wanted to give it a try myself, but wasn't quite as graceful
on my sand board.
Filming on the dunes gives the crew
a whole new set of problems, as the sand gets everywhere.
Filming in the desert, there's lots of physical challenges
that you have to endure, from the sun and everything,
but the worst thing for us is sand getting into the kit.
I mean, just from this morning,
I've kind of got pockets full of sand.
It's all through all the cameras.
That's just out my pocket.
All through the sound gear, and every tiny grain can get
into the working parts and stop the camera working, so the guys
have got to clean it all off now.
Sand everywhere. Sand in the tiniest little switches here,
which I can't get into.
You can do a certain amount with a brush, but where the brush can't go,
this is a can of air,
just very high-pressured air, which we squirt into the holes,
and hopefully gets rid of the sand.
That's the theory.
If I had hair, you'd see my hair quaffing away.
Although it looks like a dry and lifeless place,
Namibia is surprisingly full of all kinds of wildlife.
Lizards, spiders, scorpions,
and cleaning up after all the predators is the magnificent,
if slightly creepy, animal undertaker - the vulture.
These birds work in huge networks, patrolling high above the landscape,
spotting potential meals from miles up high in the sky.
When a dead animal carcass is spotted, the vultures descend
in huge numbers,
and can reduce the largest animals on Earth
to bare bones in a matter of minutes. Grim!
Vultures are, strictly speaking,
birds of prey, with bolt-cutter beaks
and vast wing spans, but to see them at work,
we needed to create a bird buffet.
So the first stage in our search starts here.
We've chosen a nice, open expanse of land here, we're going to put some
food down over there, so that, hopefully, watchful eyes
will start to take interest pretty soon.
The next thing we're going to do is set up some cameras around it,
put one of our cars as a shooting platform, I'm guessing,
under the shade of this tree here.
Vultures are surprisingly cautious, so we needed to be very careful
to hide our presence. Mark and I will hide in the van nearby
with the long lens at the ready.
This is a camera that's going to look back at Mark and I
while we're filming, so I can talk to it,
but I can still see out and see the vultures.
But to get right in amongst the action,
we needed a super sneaky skull cam.
So this mini camera's going off to the carcass.
This is definitely work in progress.
Meet skull cam.
We even had to hide the 30 metres of cable
that carry the pictures back to our vehicle,
otherwise the inquisitive vultures
would have torn up the wires and probably eaten them.
really smart birds,
and they've got amazing eyesight, so we've got to dig this cable in
all the way back to the car.
It's going to be a long morning!
So, the stopwatch is running.
Let's see how long it takes for things to turn up.
Vultures make a living feeding on the leftovers from lions and hyenas,
and are always watching out to see if the predator is still around.
They're careful, skittish, and will fly
at the slightest sound or movement.
-Good luck, everyone.
-Thank you very much.
Vultures have sensational eyesight.
They can easily spot a dead animal from a mile up.
Oh, ah, we've got our first circling vultures already.
There's two, three. Three vultures.
We been in here for three minutes, three minutes.
I can't even begin to estimate
how many birds we've got coming in at the moment.
There's a vulture coming in, Marky.
When this actually kicks off, it's going to be mayhem.
Oh, ho-ho! Wow!
That is incredible.
It's like suddenly someone rang the dinner bell.
Our skull cam has got an awesome shot.
Oh, my goodness! That carcass isn't going to be there for long.
I reckon vultures have got to go on the Deadly 60.
One thing I get asked all the time is, do you and the team
really sleep out in the wild or do you pop back
to the five-star hotel just round the corner?
That's my bed down there, under the stars.
The first thunder and lightning was only about five or ten minutes ago,
and already, it's a struggle just to keep the camp up.
Believe it or not, staying wild is the highlight of the job.
From tents in Norway, where the outside temperature was
a bone-chilling minus 30...
What have we got, Steve? What's on the menu?
Wolf fish and dill, beef and potato casserole.
'..to remote villages hidden deep in the rainforest.'
Home! Sweet home.
Often, we share our accommodation with the local wildlife.
It's climbing down your neck, Charlie.
-There he is.
It's a longhorn beetle.
And some of that wildlife is deadly.
Look at that tail going.
And there it is.
In Madagascar, we had some rather rowdy, mischievous neighbours.
Look at this.
They're just totally fearless.
Look! He's in Charlie's room. Argh!
He just ran out this way.
You cheeky monkey!
What are you after, hey?
Ah, ah, ah, ah. You don't...
Lesson number one, never
leave bananas in your room. That's what they were after.
Brown lemurs are known for being bold, and Charlie never did see his
bananas again. From then on in, we took care not to leave out anything
important for them to pinch.
But even simple wooden shacks like these are a luxury for my hardy
Deadly 60 posse.
A sleeping bag under the stars
is all you need if you're sure it won't rain.
Well, unless you're in a place where lions and leopards roam.
Here in Namibia, we had to build a protective wall of
thorns called a "boma" to make sure we didn't get munched.
It's a thrilling way to spend the night.
There's a lion. There's a lion calling
off in the distance off that way.
'Good job we built that protective wall of thorns.
'And it means we're in the right place.'
The following evening, as the sun dropped towards the horizon, we
found the pride of lions and trailed them as they headed out to hunt.
It's going to happen. Right now.
One down, over the back there. No, it's got away. He got away.
All the water hog just scattered in completely different directions.
And one over there,
unfortunately, has just met its end in a thicket just over there.
That would have to be one of the quickest, most completely perfect
hunts I think I've ever seen.
A good portion of my Deadly 60 stars are true monsters of the deep.
'Finding them takes a whole bunch of skills, techniques and kit.'
Look at that!
'My team's done tens of thousands of hours underwater.
'And we'd need every minute of that experience filming the Red Devil.
'A demon of the deep found off the coast of Mexico.'
Over the last few years, travelling the world looking
for deadly animals, there's one that I've heard more
crazy stories about, and has captured my imagination
more than any other, which is why we're here in the Sea of Cortez in
Mexico looking for them. This is one of the most dangerous animals
we'll ever see on the Deadly 60, and it's called the Humboldt squid.
-Are you OK, Steve?
-Yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine.
Look at that! Wow!
The Humboldt squid's one of the few animals on the Deadly 60
that's likely to see me as a potential meal.
OK, I'm going to very gently just try and take control of the head.
Oh, I've got it! Got my first Humboldt squid underwater.
Look at the size of it!
It's absolutely magnificent.
'This was the realisation of a life's ambition, but for those few
'minutes of frenzied fear, we'd had weeks of planning and preparation.
'And all done long before we got wet.'
Filming underwater's one of the most exciting but also one of the most
complicated things that we do.
The simple stuff is that we've got inside here, this tank, compressed
air, which can allow me to breathe for perhaps an hour under water.
The more complicated thing is this special mask here,
which has a microphone inside it
that allows me
to talk underwater.
You should hopefully be able to see my whole face underwater.
Now, if you come over here...
-This burly fellow is Simon, our underwater cameraman.
And this kind of spaceship-looking thing is our underwater camera.
-Simon, can you just give us a little squiz at what this is all about?
Yup. All righty.
So this is the housing, the camera.
headlights here, to see you and to see the squid.
The battery's down here. Monitor at the top so I can
see what the camera is seeing.
And then inside here,
inside the mother ship...
-Is the camera itself.
-So that's what it's all about.
And then all the levers, all the controls, everything
to play around with the camera.
And hopefully one of them leads to a big red button that says "record".
Yeah. Now, something to think about with this is this huge, great
big machine here probably weighs about as much as a fridge, and Simon
is going to be underwater, swimming, trying to make sure that he keeps
this whole thing co-ordinated and in check and in focus.
So actually, he's got a pretty hard job.
But don't tell him that too much because he'll get a big head!
Simon's one of the world's finest underwater camera men, and he needs
to be to get images like these while swimming with a massive camera.
He also has to avoid the business end of the Humboldt squid, because
inside those arms and tentacles is a fearsome, parrot-like beak.
To make sure we didn't end up as squid food, everyone who dived
had to wear chain-mail armour over the top of their wetsuits.
Even with the chain mail, we still risk losing fingers and having bones
broken by that fearsome beak.
That's where that snapping beak is.
I'm going to take great care
not to get my fingers close to it because I think I'd lose them.
Well, I know I'd lose them.
The squid has eight arms and two tentacles, with suction cups lined
with teeth that wouldn't look out of place inside a piranha's mouth.
The last time he dived with Humboldts,
a squid grabbed Simon by the leg and dragged him off into the deep.
His safety line saved his life.
One of the first things you'll see as we're kitting up is, Simon, the
cameraman here is putting on, is actually chain-mail.
This is the same kind of thing as knights used to wear into battle
and this is really for protection against the squid.
it kind of seems like it might be a little bit of overkill, but, you
know, you're living evidence that that's not true, aren't you, really?
Yeah, the odds of a squid actually attacking you are 40, 50%.
But when they attack you, sometimes they can be really all-out.
And you saw the teeth on it, right?
-Those teeth are awesome.
-Inside the tentacles, yeah.
Absolutely, absolutely. So if it grabs onto you without armour,
-it can open up a wet suit and open your skin up in seconds.
-But you saw the size of that beak.
My wrist has been broken five times by the Humboldt squid as I
put my hand up to protect me and
they broke the bones inside there. Even five-foot squid can do that.
That's going through the chain mail?
That's the pressure of the bite through the chain-mail suit.
But I don't have any wounds from it other than broken bones.
Without the suit, I would probably
have either lost my hand or had a big portion of it gouged out.
So, you know, the suits work.
Even though, you know, they look like they're a bit much,
they're really not.
Do you know what? I'm going to take your advice and wear the suit!
'Within minutes of encountering my first Humboldt,
'my elation turned to agony, as it chomped down on my arm, biting me
'clean through the chain-mail suit.'
Ooh! Oh, crikey, it's got a hold of my hand!
It's actually... Argh!
God, dear me! This... Argh!
The strength of the beak, it has actually bit me right through the
'The only result, heavy bruising.
'Without the chain mail, I might have lost my arm.'
Simon. Simon, surfacing.
I don't think anyone's going to doubt that the Humboldt squid
has got to go on the Deadly 60.
It's worth reminding you, never try and repeat any of
the stunts you see on Deadly 60.
It may look like we're throw caution to the wind.
We're sharing the air with Rod, the black eagle.
'But honestly, there's weeks of planning behind
'every bit of craziness.'
But however much we plan things, wild animals are always on hand to
add an element of the unpredictable.
'Like when this young male gorilla decided to give me a left hook.
'Or when this coachwhip snake clearly hadn't read the script.'
Ooh, it's very...ow!
'I was given a full-on fly-by by a bull Steller sea lion.'
Oh! He is gigantic!
'And whacked with a rather attractive sting on the chin by killer bees.'
'Nice! And my worst nip so far...
'From a croc in an Argentinean swamp.
'Not to mention being covered with figgy poo by cheerful chimps.'
One coming down.
We should be wearing hard hats.
'Half the critters I catch have a munch on me.'
'But the odd scrape or scratch
'is a small price to pay...'
I think I might be spoiling his camouflage a little bit.
'..to spend our lives with the coolest animals on earth.'
He's tasting my face.
He just stuck his tongue in my eye!
Join me next time, as I continue my search for the Deadly 60.
Look at that.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Ever wondered how Deadly 60 gets made? This programme goes behind the scenes to see just how the series is filmed. From where the team eat and sleep to the extreme measures they have to take as they travel the world filming some of its deadliest predators, this special tells all.