Gordon Buchanan takes some household names on a wildlife adventure. Gordon and Alastair head to the Western Isles of Scotland in search of otters and puffins.
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I am Gordon Buchanan.
I have filmed the most amazing creatures on the planet.
Wow! These are animals that have killed people.
But, for me, some of the best wildlife
is right here on our doorstep.
And I'd like some of our best-loved household names to experience it
as I do.
-It is just awe-inspiring.
-God, that was unbelievable.
-What an experience.
I could spend weeks or even months tracking down
these elusive creatures.
This time, I have just three days.
This could be the biggest challenge of my career.
I am on home territory on the island of Mull.
This is where I grew up and fell in love with the natural world.
I'm hoping to share that passion with someone I have only just met.
Alastair Campbell, the king of spin,
architect of New Labour and all-round alpha male.
Were you always politically minded?
I think I was always anti-Establishment.
I was a bit of an anarchist at university.
He's looking quite passive at the moment but let me remind you.
-You are the worst of British values...
-Answer the question.
Frankly I think it's not a very sensible question.
And like most cowards, he's a hypocrite as well.
This is a man more associated with Westminster than the West Coast.
And for the next three days,
I'm taking him well out of his comfort zone.
Fasten your seatbelts. This could get interesting.
Mull is the fourth largest island in Scotland,
yet fewer than 3,000 people live here.
It's only 30 miles long, yet has a coastline of over 300 miles.
Today, we're on the lookout for otters
and the spectacular sea eagle.
Tomorrow, we head out to sea to hunt for puffins.
And I'd love to show Alastair some seals.
I'm not good with discomfort.
That is definitely something as I have gotten older.
Yeah, this is going to be interesting.
For me, this is the best place in the world and...
-Just the island, the whole island.
Having grown-up here, it completely shaped my outlook on life and it is
still the place that I call home.
It's where I saw my very first otter.
Are they, kind of, thriving?
They are, this was an animal that was persecuted up and down
the country, but their last stronghold were places like Mull
that were rugged enough with inaccessible parts of coastline.
You know, people just didn't hunt them so...
The next thing, you can't really come to Mull and not look
-for the white-tailed sea eagle.
-Or indeed see one.
Seeing one is harder than...
Yes, than having the desire to see one.
And this was an animal that was wiped out and reintroduced.
And Mull is one of the few places in Scotland
there's a chance of seeing one.
The presence of white-tailed sea eagles brings in something like
£3.5 million to the island.
I am always very wary of these surveys.
Wary or not, we have a plan.
So it is onto our first location, Loch Spelve, to look for otters.
Alastair is a man who likes to know if the odds are in his favour.
I would say 60% is good odds when it comes to wildlife.
-There is a 60% chance that we will see sea eagles today.
-Otters, I would say 70% chance of otters.
The remoteness of Loch Spelve and almost complete absence of human
habitation makes it the perfect place to spot otters
and all sorts of birdlife.
The trick is to blend in, keep your distance and stay absolutely silent.
That bloody phone.
I wonder if it's...
You will never learn anything this way.
Bruce, I'll call you back. I'll phone you back. Bye.
Well, you can take the man out of Westminster.
Where's he gone?
I think Alastair has frightened off any otters.
But we do have a rather splendid heron.
There are 64 different species worldwide,
and they all have large pointed beaks that they use to grab fish
-from the water.
-What is that heron doing?
He's just waiting to get something to eat.
He seems to be having a long walk.
That is their strategy, it is kind of stealth.
How do you know he's not just going for a walk?
He is definitely in the hunt mode.
If he finds a nice little patch, he will just freeze and stand there and
wait until he sees some movement and then use his big sort of
snake-like neck to jab down.
But they've got to... They're super quick.
Blink and you'd miss it. Look, there you go.
There is wildlife all around if you know where to look.
It's a vole. Hang on.
-Is that how you handle a vole?
-If I can catch one...
There is another one.
-If I can catch one...
-If I can catch two,
how easy is it going to be for a predator?
I am losing my voles.
Don't go onto the road!
Come on, Alastair. I'm wrestling with a vole.
So, ordinarily, I am not into picking up wild animals,
but these little fellows, being on the road like this,
-are going to get squished.
Not just the cars, but any buzzards that are hanging about on telegraph
poles will swoop down and get them.
The heartbeat is racing. You scared it.
-How do you know? How do you know what they think?
How do you know how they feel?
My vole has gone. The vole is liberated.
I am going to put this one down, as well. They're probably related.
-They could be.
-You just make this stuff up.
You haven't got a clue if they're related.
How similar did they look?
Look, if a vole comes along and sees us two together,
do they say they are probably related?
-They haven't got a clue.
-They have got very, very similar eyes.
My vole is better looking than your vole.
-It loves your hand now.
-It likes it, it is nice and warm.
Keep off the road.
This is what I love about going out and looking for wild animals,
because you might have a mission, it's OK,
let's go and look for one thing.
Is this your way of telling me we are not going to see an otter?
-No, just kind of...
-This is what we call spin.
-You are the king of spin.
-So far we've seen a heron and a vole.
A heron and a vole. You promised me an otter.
It takes commitment to spot an otter,
but there are signs that they're around.
Have patience, Mr Campbell.
Maybe if we head further down the loch.
Alastair, keep your eyes open.
I want reports of anything.
All I've seen so far is a lot of rather disorganised geese.
Why are they wandering around aimlessly?
Staying safe. When you see them all together like that,
it is about safety in numbers, so you've got, I would say,
almost every one of those birds have seen other geese being
attacked by a sea eagle.
Are you telling me that they basically just live in a state
-of permanent paranoia?
-Yes, they are thinking about two things
most of the time and one is food and the other is being and living.
What about the 60% otter?
Yes, about that.
I am thinking there will be an otter...
..in the loch.
It is about a combination of skill and luck, maybe 50/50.
A lot of it is down to being in the right place at the right time.
-So are we in the wrong place?
-We are in the...
We are in the wrong place at the right time.
Instinct tells me we are not going to see anything here.
So to keep him in enthused, I am taking him to see something
I know is spectacular.
If I pull this off, even Alastair will be impressed.
So we drive to Loch na Keal 30 miles away, to look for sea eagles.
Sea eagles were hunted to extinction and reintroduced to the
island of Rum back in the 1970s.
But the eagles decided they liked Mull better
and have been here ever since.
-May we come aboard?
-How are you?
-Alastair, are you...?
Success is never guaranteed.
But Martin Kievers and his crew run regular trips out to see them.
He has been throwing fish to attract the sea eagles for a couple of years
and now they recognise his boat.
If we're lucky, we will see them just a few metres away.
They will be unmistakable. You won't look at it and say, "What is that?"
Some people describe them as a flying barn door.
They are just, as I said, big huge seven foot wingspan.
It's July, so they've chicks in the nest and the pressure is on
to feed them.
What the eagle is likely to do is to sort of circle,
it could just swoop down, grab the fish and be off.
They will be pretty fast onto it,
because they know that if they don't get onto it, one of these gulls will
-come down and steal it.
They could appear at any moment.
So I'm keeping my eyes peeled, and so is Alastair.
Although as a former tabloid reporter, he used to this.
So, back in your journalism days,
you didn't have to sit with binoculars trained
-on people's front doors?
-Koo Stark. Remember that?
Prince Andrew's friend. Did you have to sit and wait and wait for her to
-A ridiculous form of existence, really.
See, I sit and wait for... different types of birds
to come out of their houses.
In later life, we used to have them at our door at home.
And even though it was really, really annoying,
there was a part of me that realised that I used to do that to people,
so I couldn't be too, sort of, anti about it.
So did you take the tack of just ignoring the press outside your door?
I did. If you say "no comment" it's awful.
Far better to say absolutely nothing, so regularly
I just walked in and out saying nothing.
So were you under siege at various points?
Yes, not often but once or twice, yes.
Wildlife filming, you could wait for hours, days, weeks,
months for something to happen,
whereas with the sea eagle, it is something absolutely wonderful
that could happen in a very short space of time.
I am incredibly excited about seeing something as majestic as a sea eagle
up close but I am always slightly nervous that I am going to mess
something up if I'm filming and I think Alastair probably wouldn't...
Yeah, I think he would like that in some ways that I messed up
so he could just rib me for the rest of the day.
How are you feeling, Alastair? Are you tingling with anticipation?
-I am, for the first time all day.
-There you go.
And there it is.
A white-tailed sea eagle.
But it is so far away.
What is he thinking about?
He is probably thinking about how much have I eaten today?
I see the boat out there and they will have something nice for me
but can I be bothered?
Come on, sea eagle, come closer.
I want Alastair to see it for himself,
just how magnificent this bird really is.
Then, out of nowhere, a second bird appears
and flies straight towards us.
-Can you see him, Alastair?
-Straight up there.
Right above us.
Now, could you mistake that for anything?
-Have a spy at it through your binoculars.
Look at that.
Slow and graceful.
Just an absolute monster.
Can you get a sense of how big it is, Alastair?
It is the fourth-largest eagle in the world, after harpy eagle,
Philippine eagle and Steller's sea eagle.
Come on, you beauty.
Look at that. It is getting bigger and bigger and bigger
as it gets closer.
If you think of, you know, the precision that is required,
for such a big bird, these big broad wings,
the way that the waves are moving, the fish,
the way that the wind is moving,
to be able to swoop down at that precise moment.
I think I have even managed to impress Alastair.
That was a thing of real, real beauty.
There was the one that we were watching through the binoculars,
for what seemed like ages that did not move at all and then suddenly
this other one appeared and just hovered and hovered and hovered
and seemed to get bigger and bigger as he got nearer and nearer
and then straight down and off.
It really was stunning to watch.
This is a kind of special bird for me.
If you give an animal a little bit of help, it can prosper
and they are thriving, doing so well,
that they are spreading out across Scotland.
So this is kind of Garden of Eden for white-tailed sea eagles
in some way.
I do feel really proud that it is kind of their home is also my home.
And they bring more to the local economy than you do.
And I do, well, I think we do it together.
We do the same job.
What you did for the Labour administration,
-I am doing currently for sea eagles.
They need their story to be told and I am the one with the camera.
That's good. You see? A good, noble profession.
We are not so different after all, Alastair.
Cut from the same cloth.
The sea eagles saved the day.
I would never hear the end of it if all I came up with was a heron and a
few geese, not to mention those magnificent voles.
And there's always tomorrow.
There is excitement about what we might see, not just the otters.
What, another vole? We are going to see another vole? Oh, my God.
Can I cope with two voles in a day?
I don't think you could cope with that.
Now that is a pretty stunning view, it really is.
This is my home town of Tobermory.
The signs of otters are teasing me, reminding me I still have to find
one for Alastair.
My big desire is I could show Alastair everything,
Mull at its best, but so much of that is in
the hands of the gods, really.
Out there, there are whales, dolphins, basking sharks,
killer whales, porpoise, but the real secret
is actually finding them.
So I am just hoping that luck is going to be on our side.
For the next couple of days, we are heading out to sea
and our first stop is Lunga, to look for sea birds.
-There we go. The view gets nicer and nicer.
Richard Fairbairns and his crew are going to help me out.
Richard has been sailing these seas for the past 30 years,
and he knows the area and the creatures that live here
better than anyone.
On the way out, I'd love it if we would see otters,
dolphins or even a minke whale.
So I'm giving Alastair a lesson in spotting animals that lurk
beneath the surface.
Just kind of use the time to study. Look at the waves,
look at the way the light plays on the waves and then things that stand
out are going to attract your eye.
So we are just looking for little bubbles in the water?
Yes, any dark shapes.
Anything that stands out, get your binoculars up
and have a look at what it is.
But all the animals seem to be in hiding.
They are all suddenly camera shy.
-You know they are in there.
And our otters are as elusive as they were yesterday.
Andy, just holler out if you see otters.
He just said no sign of the otters, not an otter in sight.
Do you ever find yourself willing things to happen?
-All the time.
-Willing whales, willing dolphins.
Nothing you can do about it, is there?
This is not like tracking animals on land.
A huge element of it is luck, but I think as long as you are
making the best effort you can to spot wildlife,
then you are going to be in the best position to see it.
Do you mind if you don't see anything?
I do feel a weight of responsibility if I have somebody with me.
You said that you couldn't sleep last night because of the
otter situation. You feel guilt.
I think I just want to give anyone who is with me the best experience
that I can, but so much of it is up in the...
Up in the air and you have no control.
You nearly said lap of the gods, didn't you?
Yes. It is up in the air, in the lap of the gods.
It is luck, skill and patience.
Part of the joy in spotting wildlife is the wait.
It makes the encounters so much more rewarding.
This is a place that I have seen otters before.
But I am just going to play down the whole otter thing because I think
Alastair is going to just... They become like a unicorn.
He doesn't actually think that they exist.
In any reference that I make to otters I quickly kind of, yes...
It just gives Alastair an opportunity to take the Mickey
out of me so I am not going to mention them.
I am just going to present one to him.
Now there is an incoming tide, this might give us our best chance.
All of these creatures that are hidden amongst the rocks and in the
shallows start moving around and otters have a better
chance of hunting.
When it is in the water, all you're going to see is the top of its head
and maybe the slap of its tail as it dives under.
If it's on the shore, it blends in perfectly with the seaweed.
And, encouragingly, Alastair, I know several local people that have spent
their entire lives on Mull and they have never seen an otter.
How encouraging is that?
You have gone from 60% to, I know people who have never seen one
-in their entire lives.
-A big part of your job must have been
-managing people's expectations.
-I did it better than you.
This is perfect otter territory.
There is an otter, right at the back, do you see?
I've got it, I've got it.
'All our efforts finally pay off.'
-Oh, my God!
I reckon we should get ashore
and see if we can get a closer look at them.
I just hope we make it onto Lunga before the otter disappears.
I think there is a good chance that the otter is still just over the edge there,
so if we work our way round and maybe drop down onto the shore,
we might spot it.
You have got the height advantage,
you will be able to see further over the rock than I can.
'Gently does it. We don't want to scare him.'
Wait, wait, wait. Stay exactly where you are.
-See on the rock?
I've got it, I've got it.
I can see him, but just barely, he's hiding.
-What is he doing?
-Drying himself off.
-Tell you what, I am going to grab the camera.
Well, finally and close up.
And doing rather strange things to itself.
Oh, my God, look at that.
Did you see that? Disappeared then pops its head right back up again.
I am going to sneak forward a wee bit.
-It is moving, it is moving.
How big is it?
It will be about a metre, a metre and a half, but...
..the fact that it is not...
..you know, scarpering off,
shows that it is actually quite comfortable with us being here.
'So we move even closer.'
Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop.
Down, down, down, down. Hunker down.
Right, we have got ourselves in a perfect position.
Oh, my God, look.
It is looking straight at you. I think it has got some food.
If we don't move too much, he probably won't be fussed.
It is doing what my dog does to its private parts.
It is just grooming.
When it is nice and warm like this, they will just go through
their coat meticulously.
Oh, it has only got one eye.
What does that mean? It has had a fight?
It has had a fight so it could well be, I would say, the chances are,
that it's a male and the males are very territorial,
and they will fight with each other.
They will fight for females and he has got a few battle scars.
They have got big paws, haven't they?
So the thing is, otters...
It looks like a hand.
They have very long, long fingers, long toes.
And they are webbed halfway up, so they are very dextrous with those paddles, feet,
they can swim at a rate of knots. Under water,
they are incredibly fast.
He has done all this work on his coat,
he is not going to want to slip straight back into the water.
He is planning to have a bit of a nap, so he'll just find somewhere nice
in the seaweed, somewhere between a couple of rocks that he can just...
'This is fabulous.
'Alastair's really enthused.
'And I would like to get him even closer.'
Just watch yourself, I would hate to lose you
at this stage.
Now you have seen the otter, actually,
now that you've seen the otter I feel that
you can, you can go.
Oh, beautiful. Look at that.
Is that not just the best?
Does that beat a heron?
-Does it beat a vole?
Definitely beats a vole.
Pretty guaranteed that that otter doesn't live in these islands,
that it swam from Mull.
They need fresh water to rinse their coat off.
And here, there is one little spring, but not enough.
You don't know it came from Mull,
you do not know that that swum from Mull.
No, it could have come from Tiree.
-Which is that way.
-It is that way.
But it has just got that kind of Mull look about it.
-Oh, it's got a Mull look(!)
Hard-nosed PR man, ex-journalist... Losing it over a fluffy otter,
who would have thought it?
-I think that is the biggest surprise of all,
not how relaxed the otter is, but that Alastair Campbell,
he is just a big softie.
He's got feelings.
-He's got a heart.
-Glad you came?
That was top, worth the wait,
it was worth the hassle, it was worth the cold.
Having an invited guest on my home island and unable to find my
favourite mammal would just be a shame, it would be too much to bear.
And also, the pressure of Alastair constantly ribbing me.
That has all come to an end,
so what I hope to find from Alastair is a new... A respect...
Yeah, just respect, that is all that I want from him.
Karma. Do you believe, Mr Campbell, in karma?
You now have my full respect...
..for the rest of the journey.
Yeah. How the mighty fall.
Right on their arse.
Lunga is known for its geology,
and its thriving population of sea birds.
It has been described as a green jewel in a peacock sea.
My friends and I spent a lot of time here in the past.
And like most teenagers, we brought essential supplies with us.
We used to
get dropped off here when we were younger, when we were teenagers,
with a couple of crates of beer,
couple of boxes of wine and a big basket of crab.
Crates of beer and boxes of wine?
We were obviously over 18, must have been.
We used to come out and camp here for
-five days at a time.
In the summer.
Did I mention - I am hoping to persuade Alastair to come camping?
I have never camped in my life.
No intention of ever doing so.
OK, this could complicate my plans for tonight.
A route takes us through a village which was abandoned in the 19th century.
The people that lived here would have been scoffing the puffins
in the summer months. Yeah,
and do you know what the favourite breakfast of island-dwelling Hebrideans was?
Puffin... Puffin porridge.
-You get your oats, just make traditional porridge,
and then you'd plop a whole puffin, guts and all,
-right into the middle of it.
-Not fancy that?
-See, this is, you say that you exercise every day when you can...
-So, there you go.
-This is good for your glutes.
The gift I'm giving you that will keep on giving.
We are heading towards a sea stack just off the shoreline.
Let's just get round to the rock.
To Dun Cruit, or Harp Rock.
That is really spectacular.
It's where thousands of birds have chosen to nest.
-What do you think?
-What a racket.
I know. Isn't it? So, if you look closely, these are all...
Kind of a mixture of guillemots and razorbills.
So, you'll see the guillemots are the ones with the very slender beak,
white front, black head, black wings.
-So, what you're hearing is a kind of dispute between neighbours.
See these guys that are all right over there,
there is lots of them in the same space?
Is that because it's kind of prime property or...?
Yeah, it's all about...
It's all about finding somewhere that they feel safe and secure.
So these spaces where there's nobody...?
-Nobody wants to be there.
Kind of sloping at the wrong angle.
Too low down.
So, all the squabbling is about actual kind of...
It's basically, "Get off my patch, my fence is bigger than your fence."
"I was here first."
All these sea birds come here
because this is a relatively safe place
to rear your young. There is no terrestrial predators here.
There's nothing on the ground.
There's no cats, there's no rats, there's no foxes,
there's no badgers.
But what they are most at risk from is another bird.
The ultimate sea-bird killer
are peregrine falcons.
Have a look at this. A dead puffin.
And that has been killed by...
-By a peregrine.
-How do you know?
Because a peregrine is really meticulous in how it eats,
so, there you go.
You've got the breastbone there.
The peregrine will just strip all the meat off and it just leaves
this kind of distinctive bit of evidence.
-So, it's kind of...
-You know that?
-Fact, fact, fact.
So, that cannot have died in any other way?
No. It... No.
It cannot have died in any other way.
-Are you sure?
-I'm challenging your assumptions here.
-Some things I know.
-You do know that, yeah?
That's enough of dead puffins.
Live ones are much more interesting.
If we kind of just keep our eye on them,
and see how comfortable they are,
they won't go too far.
And maybe just a little bit closer.
So, this was... When I was ten,
I came here to Lunga for the very first time and this was, I suppose,
the very first wildlife spectacle I ever saw.
The puffins have come here to nest in these burrows at the top of these cliffs
because they feel perfectly safe.
I love it, because it's a sort of, it's a trust, it's a kind of,
there's a little relationship going on between me, you and the puffins.
They've cleverly made their nests in old rabbit burrows.
Look, oh, we're sitting right on top of it, don't worry, fella.
Look at that.
Taking it down there to eat it?
No, to check the chick's down there.
So, he'll come back out.
At the moment... Oh, here he is. Look.
Can you hear that?
The chick underground.
How many languages do you speak?
I speak French, fluent French and German...
-You can talk puffin?
-OK. Right, hang on, let me try something.
It's rubbish. You've got a really bad accent.
What's the matter?
Does the mother not...?
No, she won't mind. She's probably back up to see.
Oh, that's a reply.
Right, you want to give it a go?
-What do I do?
-Just try and make that noise.
ALASTAIR BELLOWS That is appalling.
You'll scare the thing.
You sound like you're being sick. Try that.
Are you sure that you studied languages?
-Should I try French?
German. Try German.
ALASTAIR SPEAKS GERMAN
Segue into puffin if you can.
Make your epiglottis rattle.
Now, there is a thing I never thought I'd say to you.
ALASTAIR MIMICS PUFFIN Oh, you are, yeah, well done.
Alastair Campbell can talk puffin.
-A long reply.
-That's an achievement.
For me, watching wildlife has always been incredibly life-affirming.
As long as I am able to walk up onto the top of a cliff,
-I will be willing...
-Just watch them.
Yeah. ..to spend time with these birds.
I just love them.
I'm hoping it's having the same effect on Alastair.
'A man who's had well-documented battles with depression.'
Is it something you'd do again?
It's sort of soothing.
-I prefer these to the...
The property-price warlords.
That's just argy-bargy all the time.
-These guys seem pretty chilled.
But the day is not over yet.
Eventually we'll end up in Tiree, the most westerly of the Inner Hebrides.
It's where Alastair's father was born and the reason
he wanted to make this trip.
OK. We're good.
Can you hop off there, Alastair.
You all right? Yeah.
My next challenge is possibly the biggest one yet.
To persuade Alastair to spend the night in a tent.
I'm in a tent.
I'm too old for this.
And there is a rustling coming from Alastair's tent.
This is the beach in Tiree.
It's absolutely beautiful.
It would be even more beautiful...
..if I had slept...more than...
..a couple of hours.
And it would be even more beautiful if my neck...
So, that was my first...
..and almost certainly my last...
..night in a tent.
Gordon, good morning.
What he needs is coffee.
As always, I've come prepared.
Cooking on gas.
-That's the one thing...
-..I can't do without, wherever.
Yeah, coffee. Coffee and whisky,
the two things that I take on a trip with me and if I had to forego one of them,
I'd forego the whisky.
I think that is a wise decision.
'As I prepare a delicious breakfast for Alastair,'
'he gives me a grammar lesson.'
If you were to say, would you like fewer eggs or less eggs?
I would like fewer eggs.
That's correct. So, why do you keep saying less, when you mean fewer?
Cos I'm not an educated man.
Not in the same way as you.
But the way you should remember it is less wildlife, fewer birds.
Less wildlife, fewer birds.
Less wildlife, fewer birds.
I will do my best.
The trouble is I like being a bit of an oik.
You don't! You're quite well spoken for a...
For an oik? I'll just give these a bit of a...
a flash fry.
Alastair's father was from Tiree.
And he's always had a strong connection to the island.
Did you spend much time here at all when you were younger?
-Every summer as a child.
-What was that like?
-Yeah, it was fantastic.
-It was fantastic.
-So what would you do?
There is actually a little golf course.
We played golf.
-His younger brother kept the family croft.
And I think my dad felt when he came back he had to sort of...
help a lot.
He used to spend an awful lot of time mending buildings
and fences and all that sort of stuff.
Do you reckon he was proud of you?
Of your kind of achievements?
Oh, yeah. But I don't think he...
I don't think he ever...
I don't think either of my parents ever...
sort of fully understood what my life was about.
Sometimes I think they just sort of...
They just found it really odd.
Seeing Nelson Mandela at something or I'd been with Clinton or...
It was like, or, my mum, in particular,
she used to absolutely hate it when I was on the television.
-In the news.
When she died, I discovered mountains of this stuff
that she cut out of papers and...
Was she the type of mother that would say... give you advice or say,
"I'm not sure, Alastair, that you should be doing this"?
-Oh, all the time.
-Yeah, but to be honest,
a lot of it was advice if I'd have taken it,
I'd never done stuff that I did.
Actually, you know, I thought of it this morning.
Even though she's dead, if I'm doing a sit-down interview,
I'll put a tie on.
Cos she'd always, if I ever appeared on television without a tie,
she'd say, "Why weren't you wearing a tie?"
And the idea of being on television without having shaved,
-that is terrible.
Actually one of my first really bad fights was here.
Actually, I lost as well.
-I got absolutely battered.
-Maybe we should find him.
-No, I'm not going to do that.
There's something else Alastair remembers
from the summers he spent here and that's the seals.
I've seen a seal bobbing about.
-Have you really?
-On the water. Yeah, there was one earlier on.
We're going to head north to a place where there's a lot more seals.
And just see if we can get them to come in close.
But it's how we get them to come close - that's the challenge.
Seals are intrigued by curious sounds.
And what you might not know about Alastair
is that he is an accomplished bagpipe player.
One of the best ways to entice seals...
-Wait a minute, I told you.
-..is singing to them.
-you play the bagpipes.
His father taught him to play when he was little.
Never to an audience of seals.
But there's a first time for everything.
I'm feeling good about this. I think this could work.
How do we remember the difference between less and fewer?
-I can't remember.
-You can, you can.
You wouldn't say "the otters is", would you?
No, I wouldn't ever. Never ever.
Unless it was a pub. The Otters is a great pub.
-Is that correct?
-Exactly, well done.
Thank you very much, Mr Campbell. Thank you.
Well, there's still no signs of seals,
but all around is evidence of a much smaller creature.
Those little squiggly things.
-They are from lugworms.
A lugworm is a really sizeable worm
that lives in the sand and what it does
is it processes the sand, taking out all the little particles,
cos it's not just sand, it's kind of debris,
organic material in there and the lugworm ingests that
in one end and out the back-end comes clean sand.
So, let me show you.
I suppose this is worm poop.
All this beach has passed through a lugworm at some point in history.
Every single grain of sand.
No. But how many people -
cos I didn't, if you're on a beautiful white beach like this -
know that they're actually on worm shit?
Yeah. Not many.
But now you can point that out.
Where are these seals going to be?
At the moment, the tide's out.
I reckon there would be some on the water, some on land.
-I'll have a look.
-Have a look.
So, the lesson today, really,
is whether the playing of a bagpipe will encourage seals to come closer
and have a look. The weight of the camera rests on my shoulders,
but the weight of responsibility rests on this man.
Yes, I know, but the presupposing
that what you just said is that the seals are there.
And I've yet to see any sign.
I heard that it's all about the quality of the player.
If they are actually half decent, the seals will come.
Yeah, but they have to be within earshot.
Yeah, but they've got a good sense of hearing.
The thing is, what would heighten the chances,
because they can hear very well underwater,
so can you get into the water and play the pipes underwater?
-Would that...? That wouldn't work?
-I think that would be impossible.
If you had a deep breath?
-No? Scuba gear?
No, cos water would go into all the drones.
What if you blew really hard, just a single note?
May I say, Mr Gordon Buchanan, Scottish wildlife expert,
that you are disrespecting your culture and your heritage...
I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
..asking these trivial, childlike, glib questions
about your national instrument.
I find it slightly alarming that I've been awake now for seven hours
and I've seen zero seal activity.
OK. I've got a diversion for you.
Would you like me to show you the largest penis in the animal kingdom?
So, proportionately, they have the largest penis.
-Who measures barnacles' penises?
-Strange people will do such things.
They are hermaphrodites. They are male and female,
but they have to mate with another one. So that...
extraordinarily large penis will come out
and actually fertilise a neighbouring barnacle.
So, if the barnacle was six foot three inches tall,
how big would the penis be?
You would be talking about...
not impregnating someone up on the beach,
but I wouldn't be safe.
I wouldn't be safe at this distance.
I'm just saying.
Where do you think those seals are?
We've got the best chance of spotting a seal
on rocks or skerries like these
when it comes to rest after it's been hunting for fish.
Mr Campbell, I have something to point out.
You have an audience of one.
-That little skerry there. There is a gull in the water.
And to the right of it, there is a...
Do you see him? Or her.
Perfect. Right, you set up,
I'll set up and I want to record the expression on the face of this seal
when it hears your music.
If ever a seal could have an expression of anticipation,
this seal has it.
ALASTAIR PLAYS THE BAGPIPES
If they were sea lions, they can, they would clap.
But seals being seals,
the flippers can't meet at the front.
They definitely... It definitely works.
-Could you see it?
Does that tie in with your kind of sense of Scottish identity?
I think the pipes are a big part of Scotland,
a big part of history of Scottish heritage.
And I do feel that particularly now Dad's dead,
I do feel that sort of...
I feel as though the tie that is still there
-is actually through pipes and music.
What's disappointing is that we've only managed to attract one seal.
And I know there are far more out there.
There is a way that we can get closer to the seals -
much, much closer -
and see them really in their element,
and that's to get into the water with them.
But can I persuade Alastair
to get up close and personal with those seals?
If the seals aren't coming to us, we'll have to go to them.
So, we're heading north, to the Cairns of Coll.
I know from past experience it's a really great place to find them.
I don't want Alastair to see
that I've actually got a nice woolly bear suit and a dry suit
and all he's got is a very thin wet suit.
He won't know how warm I am.
And here we have Alastair Campbell as you've never seen him before.
Why haven't I got those?
Because you said I was a titch and you were tall
and my suit won't fit you.
-Yeah, but my feet are going to be freezing.
-Hey, you can have these.
Oh, well, that's better.
I'd always hoped that I'd see Alastair Campbell in a wet suit.
It's kind of, sometimes, when I close my eyes at night-time,
it's all I can imagine, but I never, ever thought,
never thought I'd actually see it.
-Hoping is one thing.
-Yeah, listen, I will tell you one thing,
I must admit, I've never played the bagpipes in a wet suit before.
It worked on dry land, but will it work at sea?
Come on, Alastair, get those pipes warmed up.
I want the entire colony to rush up and start bobbing about and...
Right, I want to see these seals. I want to see them dance.
ALASTAIR PLAYS THE BAGPIPES
This is about as surreal as it gets.
That's stating the obvious.
He hasn't even finished tuning up and the seals are intrigued.
Alastair, that has worked a treat.
Who would have thought?
Right, I'm going to slip in.
I'm used to swimming with sea creatures underwater.
But for Alastair, this is the very first time
he's ever done anything like this.
-Just put that in my mouth?
And if you go in, if there is any water gets in...
Just bite down on those two little grips there.
And if you go in and you get any water in there,
-just big blow out and that will clear any water.
So, good on him that he's so game.
-I just drop in, yeah?
Swimming in these kelp forests is magical.
They are the perfect cover for seals when they're hunting.
Too perfect, in fact,
because we haven't managed to spot a single one.
There's seals all around us,
it's just the fact that we can't actually see them underwater.
Are you happy, Alastair?
One, it's not as cold as I feared.
Two, I feel strangely comforted being surrounded by these seals.
But I'm still hoping to bring them even closer for Alastair.
Just thinking, if I start waving my fins out of the water,
they might pay attention and run right ahead of me. Coo-ee!
We might not be able to see them,
but they can see us despite the murky conditions.
Seals' eyes are specially adapted to allow them to see underwater.
Although, I don't think they'll like the look of either Alastair or me.
Even so, Alastair is in his element.
I love it when they just pop their head up like that.
You see, you sort of see that one, he's looking over.
-And you think, if you go a bit nearer,
it will come a bit nearer and it does and then it just...
Why the hell would it want to see you or me?
The thing is, they do feel more confident
when the visibility is clearer.
Cos they can see you from further away.
On a better visibility day, we would see much more.
But there is a big stinger down there, so watch...
-Oh, is there? Where?
-It's drifted off.
Oh, don't tell me that.
-That's a fit man. That's a fit man.
It's been an intense three days, but I've loved every second of it.
And I'm hoping it's been just as rewarding for Alastair.
I was worried that...
..you might not have enough of an interest in the wildlife,
but how has it been for you?
Well, I've had several...
And not just moments, but extended experiences.
Your enthusiasm, your passion for what you do,
what's good about going with somebody like you,
is that you have got the knowledge.
And that just helps make it more than just,
"Wow, look at that."
You say you can go on a wildlife walk and it will give you a lift.
I find cos I have, you know, fairly variable moods
and, you know, sometimes very, very low moods,
is that I find that place can lift me but also it can take me down
and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
The biggest cliche about mental health issues, about depression,
is that it's a taboo subject.
For you, you're kind of more than happy to talk about it.
I think that shows strength of character.
You never hear anybody say, "Why would he be cancerous?"
"Why would you choose to be asthmatic?"
But the way people talk about depression in particular,
it's like it's not really an illness.
Everybody who has lived with that
has also had to live with this kind of taboo
and a sense of shame about it and all the rest of it
and I do honestly think we'll look back one day and just think,
"Why was it like that?"
-It has been so much fun. It really has. I've loved it.
We packed in so much as well.
Other stuff keeps coming back in my head.
You just think about all those little creatures that we've seen.
There was a point of this journey
-where I thought that was going to be it!
There was a point in this journey where I thought,
"Christ, I really hope that it's not."
No, it's been great.
We're heading back towards Tobermory.
For the first time in three days, there's no pressure to deliver.
We're just enjoying sailing in the sunset...
..when something catches my eye.
Oh, look at that.
The unmistakable shape of dolphins glistening in the water.
Look, right, keep your eyes tuned, just in front of the boat.
Right, you might even see them underwater.
Oh, look at that!
That is a farewell, Hebridean style.
-That is incredible. Unbelievable.
-Oh, goodness me.
Things can only get better.
-Look, isn't that just...?
Oh, wow. Oh, my word.
That is just... They're everywhere.
-They're having fun.
-Yeah. Having fun.
Look at the sunlight, the last of the sun's rays just...
kissing their dorsal fins.
That's poetry, isn't it?
No, they are. That's incredible.
Gordon and Alastair head to the Western Isles of Scotland. They visit the Isle of Mull where Gordon grew up and Tiree where Alastair's dad was brought up and where Alastair spent much of his childhood.
They are in search of otters which live up to their reputation and prove to be very elusive, much to Alastair's annoyance. Sea eagles and puffins are less secretive, making Gordon's job a little easier. They also discover an unconventional way of attracting seals which involves Alastair, a wet suit and a set of bagpipes... Gordon only has three days - can he get Alastair to appreciate the natural world in the way he does?