A behind-the-scenes view of the story behind deploying the Spy Creatures, showing how the concept evolved and became the inspiration for the animatronic animals of the series.
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The world is full of extraordinary animals.
In this series, we wanted to really understand them -
to discover how they really think and feel.
To find out, a team of spy creatures were sent undercover.
They not only looked like part of the family -
they behaved like them, too.
Armed with the latest camera technology,
they were taken across the globe
to understand the true nature of the animals they met
and reveal how intelligent they really are...
..how badly behaved they can be...
..how important family is to them...
..and if it's possible that they can truly love each other.
What they discovered may change our perception of animals forever.
Could animals be more like us than we ever believed possible?
To answer the questions at the heart of this series
required an innovative and unconventional approach.
So, how did the spy creatures do it?
The series took three years to make
and each trip deployed a rather unique filming team.
Spy Orang is just one of 34 spy creatures
that infiltrated the lives of over 30 different animal families
across the world.
These lifelike robots are designed to capture intimate images
from inside the family.
To create them stretches technology to the limit,
and deploying them is just as challenging.
Spy Orang is at the pinnacle of this spying game,
but it started with humble beginnings almost 16 years ago.
This is Boulder Cam -
a camera disguised as a moving rock
to get a fresh perspective on life in a pride.
It was designed to withstand a lion attack.
But the reaction from the cubs was curiosity...
..and their mother was equally relaxed.
Boulder Cam simply became part of the landscape
and the footage revealed lion families
in a totally new light.
Capturing such unguarded and intimate views
is still at the heart
of what the spy creatures are designed to achieve.
The new generation are lifelike replicas
programmed to communicate with the animals they meet.
Producer Philip Dalton prepares Spy Wild Dog Pup
for his first deployment.
Before the pack returns to the den,
he tests that the 24 moving parts are all working.
Spy Pup's body language is key to the success of his assignment.
First encounters are a nerve-racking moment.
Even pups could rip him to pieces.
But Spy Pup gives only friendly reactions...
..and it works a treat.
It's a huge relief.
There was a lot at stake.
Spy Pup is the result of a huge amount of work
in a small London studio.
Beneath the skin is a miracle of animatronic engineering -
a skeleton of articulated metal limbs
controlled by sophisticated electronics and servos.
The moves of the different creatures' real-life counterparts
are programmed and tested.
Each one takes months to design and build.
The meerkat is the first spy to be created for the series.
John Nolan is its genius creator.
He's worked on many top Hollywood films
and here, he works closely with the production team
to ensure all the animal's movements are as lifelike as possible.
The final proof will be on location.
Meerkats aren't keen on outsiders,
so this first assignment is a tough one.
To make sure she smells right,
she's been anointed with poo from the colony.
After a thorough investigation,
the meerkats are convinced enough to allow her into the family,
so she can capture remarkable footage of their complex lives.
But the more remote the location,
the more important it is that the spy creatures are accepted.
Having hitched a ride to the Antarctic,
if Spy Adelie isn't accepted,
it will be a very long and wasted journey.
But a previous spy series filmed by penguin cams
means that his technology is tried and tested.
He's on board a French supply ship on its way to their Antarctic base.
After a week-long journey from Australia,
the ship finally arrives at the aptly named Adelie Land.
And his subjects are there to greet him.
Of course, he needs help -
even the most sophisticated spy cameras need human support.
Putting up with the freezing conditions
is Frederique Olivier,
an Antarctic scientist turned cinematographer.
But there's no time to acclimatise.
Real Adelies are returning to their nests
and filming must start immediately.
Spy Adelie gets his first taste of what he's dealing with.
As the Adelies head for the colony, Frederique and Spy Adelie follow.
Frederique is used to this kind of work.
She's been to the Antarctic 16 times
and, for the last spy film, spent nearly a year here.
The colony lies two miles across the frozen sea ice,
not far from the French base.
Since penguin cams last filmed here,
scientists have been using them
to gather important data inside the colonies.
The penguins so accept the spies,
they continue with their natural behaviour.
Penguin cams aren't just liked by penguins.
They become welcome company
for someone working alone for long periods...
What do you reckon?
..and Frederique has formed a strong bond with Spy Adelie.
Hein? Bon. C'est ce qu'on va faire.
On va aller dans la colonie.
We're going to go to the colony
and we're going to talk to your mates, all right?
All right, mate. I'll take your control with me.
As these penguins aren't fazed by humans,
she can deploy on foot.
But she must still be careful -
she must never put them off their nests.
And they won't behave naturally while she's near.
When she moves away, things return to normal.
Because penguin cams don't interfere with natural behaviour,
they become a useful device not only for filming,
but for scientific research, too.
Spy Adelie came for two months
to film the penguins stealing stones to build their nests.
But he discovered so much more.
When a male has his pebbles stolen,
and fails to impress his mate,
she runs off with his love rival...
..and feathers fly.
But perhaps his most useful skill for filming Adelies
is his ability to get right back up.
When all else fails,
Frederique is there to lend a caring hand.
But this wasn't the only elemental challenge the spies faced.
In Kachemak Bay in Alaska,
rafts of sea otters regularly congregate just offshore.
They are notoriously nervous of people,
especially when they have young babies on board.
The only way to capture images like this
is to create a spy creature that can swim right up to them.
The challenge is to somehow create a lifelike replica
of one of the most adorable animals on Earth.
Back at John Nolan's studio,
the basic mechanics are fiendishly complex -
but they are just the start.
It's Val Jones' job to turn a mechanical and functional robot
into something closer to the real thing.
This requires meticulously punching synthetic fur
into the silicone skin,
hair by hair.
It takes incredible patience and an artistic eye
to get the spy otter to look as lifelike as possible.
It's this attention to detail that makes it really come alive.
It will be many weeks before it's ready to be deployed
among the sea otters of Alaska.
But when the day comes, there are no guarantees it will work.
Producer Matthew Gordon and the film crew
are about to see whether the hard work has been worth it.
A stabilised camera system is also ready to film the otters from afar.
OK, zoom in.
OK, we're zooming in. Coming in.
That's it, work with it. That'll be a nice movement.
The images hint at what delightful subjects
the otters are going to make.
It was the way he was doing his hands like this, going...
What are you doing?
He's even doing it now, look!
Resting his head on his hands. Yeah, just watching.
Checks over, it's time to see if Spy Otter
can get the intimate footage it came for.
As otters are so difficult to approach,
the boat must stay a long distance away.
OK, let's try and get over to them.
The colony doesn't seem to be alarmed as Spy Otter swims closer.
Are they reacting to it?
They sort of pop their head up and look at it,
but they're not scared.
But as Spy Otter moves further from the boat,
the controls stop responding.
It has reached the limits of good radio reception.
Time for a rethink.
James, the otter, put it behind the rock there.
This time, they try a rib.
Its lower profile may allow it to get closer to the otters
so they can effectively control Spy Otter.
Even now, it's uncertain whether the spy creature will be accepted.
You guys feel free to deploy him when you want,
and then we need to pull out.
But it's looking more promising.
They are already nearer to an otter than before.
And Spy Otter boldly swims ever closer.
OK. Get the head into the right position,
so they can film it brilliantly.
I love it!
This is what they've come to film - some of the most natural
and endearing shots of sea otters ever seen.
Spy Otter can even film what's happening underwater.
Then Spy Otter gets a close-up view of their intelligent use of tools.
Exactly what the team were hoping to capture.
With another success under the team's belt,
back in London, more spy creatures are being prepared
for their first encounters.
Like the sea otter, Spy Prairie Dog is one of many creations
made to replicate the animals they're going to film.
But sometimes, a different solution is needed.
This is Spy Egret.
He, too, is as lifelike as possible.
And under the feathers and skin,
the metal skeleton is no less impressive.
But he's not going to film other birds -
his sights are set much higher.
He is soon on his first assignment.
It's not long before he catches a glimpse of his subjects.
Egrets like him follow the elephant herds around,
but he's not the only lifelike camera going undercover.
Michael Richards is one of the world's most experienced
wildlife cameramen and has filmed elephants
many times before.
He must anticipate the elephant's intentions
and deploy remote cameras on a track he thinks they'll take.
First out are the plop cams,
based on a ball of elephant poo.
Then it's the log cams.
And finally, a spy tortoise.
Now it's Spy Egret's turn -
the most expensive, fragile and irreplaceable of the lot.
It's time for quick decisions.
I think they're turning, according to us.
Let's just pop him down here.
Keep that... Keep coming, and then we're going to have to reverse.
Just so I can hide behind the vehicle.
That's great, thank you. Stop there. Stop, stop.
Just so they can't see me.
-They are coming exactly towards us.
The plan is for him to film
at the same height as baby elephants,
from right inside the herd.
With the crew controlling him from a distance,
he now has to face the elephants on his own.
It's a nerve-racking moment
as he disappears inside a wall of legs.
Thanks to some very obliging elephants,
the egret survives unscathed.
In fact, over the ten weeks spent with the herd,
hardly a feather was ruffled.
The same cannot be said for some of the log cams and dung cams -
cameras you might think would be less noticeable.
Perhaps they simply appeal to the elephants' playful nature.
The spy tortoises fared better,
probably because they looked like a living animal,
although there is always one who goes a step too far...
..testing one of the spy tortoises to destruction.
But the spies are resilient creatures -
even when thoroughly pancaked, his cameras kept filming.
But hiding in plain sight proved the best plan.
All he ever got was mud in his eye.
Spy Egret may have survived,
but because of the dangerous nature of their subjects,
others were in mortal danger from the start.
Spy crocodile hatchlings were at the sharp end
of one of the most deadly animals of them all.
They have to be placed in a croc's nest
in the brief period she is in the water -
something not for the faint-hearted.
And they are here to film
the crocodile's remarkable maternal instincts.
She places her hatchlings in her mouth to carry them to water
as a protection against nest-raiding predators.
It's not long before Spy Hatchling
receives the same extraordinary treatment...
..and captures a baby croc's view from inside the jaws.
It took eight weeks and three trips to the Nile River in Uganda
to film the two crocodile sequences seen in the series.
Here, the team also tested
the most ambitious walking spy creature to date.
Spy Crocodile has come all the way from a biorobotics lab
in Lausanne, Switzerland, where it took six months to build.
The team, led by producer Rob Pilley,
has to find a safe spot to launch the robot near to real crocodiles.
But it's a wild and dangerous place...
..surrounded by animals that can kill you.
The river itself can be treacherous...
It's nice and shadowed. The hippos love it,
but the crocs love it as well - it's the most perfect spot.
Going to run aground at any minute. Get stuck, we'll be sitting ducks.
..with hidden sandbanks in the shallows.
You two all right?
That was one of them.
When they find a sheltered spot, they don't waste any time.
Scientists from the lab, Kamilo Melo and Tomislav Horvat,
are eager to test out their creation.
Spy Crocodile is unique,
as it is designed to be the first amphibious robot,
able to walk on the ground and swim in the water.
If he can make him stand up, please, chaps?
-First tests are on land,
but it still requires a radio transmitter
and wrist computer to control.
Walking seems OK, so it's time to see
if all the hard work has paid off.
A bit more, a bit more.
Bit more, bit more.
A bit more. And swimming.
He's off to a good start,
moving with the sinuous motion of a real crocodile.
But there's a problem.
I think what's happened is he's got lots of water...
-It cannot work.
-It cannot work in water.
It's a huge setback for Rob and the team.
The inner skin is letting in water.
What do you want to do?
Let's cool it and...
Wait - I can turn it off, maybe.
Motors are dead.
They must dry it out and hope for the best.
Fortunately, the complex electronics still seem to be working.
Let's make some curves...
Tail is doing well.
His metal skeleton is based on that of a real crocodile
and all the movements need to be tested again.
Even undressed, he still moves uncannily like the real thing.
Everything seems to be in order.
Now they have to make sure the skin stays waterproof this time.
He looks as good as new.
But how will he fare in the water?
It seems a successful repair.
Now there are real crocs to find.
Back at the crocodile nests,
the spy hatchlings are taking a pounding.
Crocs crack open their own half-hatched eggs
to free the babies before taking them into the water.
The spy hatchlings don't fare as well as the real things.
Although six were destroyed while filming,
it was all worth it.
In the rainforests of eastern Australia,
the spy cameras were to face unexpected dangers
of a very different nature.
These are juvenile bowerbirds -
And this is Spy Bowerbird, mimicking an adult in his bower.
He's here to film the real birds' fascination with blue objects
and how they use them to attract females to their dancing grounds.
What the filming reveals is that gangs of juveniles
also love to steal.
The blue jewels are irresistible.
But some contain cameras.
Caught red-handed, they arrange the loot in their own bower,
some distance away.
Here, they hone the dancing skills
that will ultimately help them attract a mate.
But their bower is soon attracting other interest.
Children, out to feed the birds.
Here you go, birds.
Look at all this stuff.
No, look at this. There's treasure!
They are unaware that many of the jewels contain cameras.
How could any child resist?
Dad, look at this.
-You just found all that down there, did you?
-Should we keep it?
-No. This has got to all stay here.
Then the penny drops.
Oh, my gosh.
-Dad, look at this - they're cameras.
Why did they put it there
if they know someone is going to steal it?
I don't know. Because it's a bowerbird nest?
-Shall I show Mum these two cameras?
-No, no. It's got to stay here, mate.
It's here for a reason.
-Can I take it?
-You have to put it back.
The kids return their precious finds to the bower.
It's no problem for the juveniles.
They're used to having their treasures stolen
by other thieving bowerbirds.
Once calm is restored,
they simply tidy up and carry on practising dancing.
Wherever the spy cameras went, they faced different challenges.
But placing spy cameras among one of the most intelligent animals
on Earth was one of the greatest.
It also promised to be one of the most revealing.
A spy tortoise creates an extraordinary reaction
when one young chimp takes it to his heart.
It stirs up possessive feelings.
A desire to own and cherish.
it's the simplest spy cameras that provide the biggest surprises.
This young chimp has found a camera disguised as a forest fruit.
It accidentally captures an intimate view
of some other chimp's bath time.
But it's another spy creature that steals the show.
Spy Bush Baby is testing the chimpanzees' reactions
to something they would normally hunt.
The crew track the chimpanzees for miles every day,
from dawn to dusk, so as not to lose them in the vast forest.
As soon as they hear their cries, they don facemasks,
as chimps must be protected from human diseases.
The masks make the hot, humid journey even more arduous.
And the sweat bees don't improve conditions either.
It's gone right into my ear.
Got a lovely sweat bee... Oh, my God.
A serious amount. Look at all those. God...
To deploy Spy Bush Baby without the chimps seeing them
requires the help of an expert.
So this is our spy bush baby, Jill.
Jill Pruetz is one of the world's leading
biological anthropologists, and she's been studying
these chimps for over 15 years.
Oh, so the camera's in the left eye?
She knows their behaviour better than anyone.
Producer Matt trained as a primatologist.
Partnerships with scientists like Jill
are what made the series possible.
I think in the first instance when the chimps come in,
we'll have him already up, and not have him moving or anything
-like that, just to see how they react, if they notice it.
-And then do some...
-Bush babies are the chimps' favourite food.
How they react could provide new insights
into their human-like behaviour.
Hello, bush baby. We're going to put you now with the chimps.
It needs Jill's help to predict where the chimps will pass.
They can hear the chimps are on their way,
so deployment must be quick.
But first, he needs to be carefully secured in place.
Testing - one, two, three.
Checks over, and Spy Bush Baby is on his own.
Matt and Jill can hear the chimps approaching...
..but it's Spy Bush Baby that captures the first tantalising view.
These are supremely intelligent animals.
They think carefully about anything new.
He knows that this bush baby is out of the ordinary.
While some show interest, others just get on with their lives.
But the spy creatures always reveal surprising behaviour,
and the male that has been studying him does something quite unexpected.
Aware that a female is watching, his whole attitude changes.
CHIMP SCREECHES LOUDLY
He now starts to show off.
It's a human-like trait that is exactly the kind of behaviour
the series set out to reveal.
It was once frowned upon to make comparisons
between human and animal behaviour.
But scientists and film-makers who study animals in the wild
frequently observe extraordinary similarities.
The male really seems to be trying to make an impression on
the watching female, and her lack of interest seems a blow to his ego.
His look says it all.
In the heat of the day,
the similarities between the two species are difficult to ignore.
In the quest to explore our animal connections,
the crew travel to the ends of the Earth.
Few places are more remote than the Arctic wilderness
of Ellesmere Island in Northern Canada.
Their camp is set in 70,000 miles of uninhabited tundra,
and a key team member is ready for action.
Spy Wolf Cub is part of an expedition
to find the elusive Arctic wolf.
But round here, the wolves come looking for you.
Ellesmere wolves live in isolation and rarely encounter people.
Their innate curiosity and lack of fear draws them to the camp.
This young wolf shows no aggression.
He's more interested in the new smells.
It's the perfect opportunity to get the wolves used to
the spy cub and the crew.
For wolf biologist Kira Cassidy,
getting this close to Arctic wolves is a rare treat.
Wolves aren't encouraged to visit the camp,
but there's little anyone can do about it.
Here, THEY make the rules.
Specialist camera operator Huw Williams
tries not to put a foot wrong.
Exploring anything new is in their nature.
But once they've given the camp a thorough going-over,
they head off back to the den.
Kira keeps a watchful eye on them.
The den is located about a kilometre from the camp.
Producer/cameraman Philip Dalton sets his camera up as near
as he can without disturbing their natural behaviour.
After they feed, the adults head off hunting,
and the cubs disappear into the den.
This is the moment the crew have been waiting for.
Spy creatures are always deployed when the animals aren't watching.
To avoid them being associated with people,
it's important they aren't seen being put down.
The crew head out in the direction of the den.
Huw deploys Spy Cub near to the den's entrance.
He tests the remote controls before moving a safe distance away.
Then a range check for the video link.
It's not long before the cubs emerge.
Over the next few weeks, Spy Cub and the crew capture some of
the most intimate moments of Arctic wolf life ever filmed.
He is totally accepted by the cubs,
although he's not programmed to roll over and play like the real cubs do.
Perhaps that's one for the next generation of spy creatures.
When spies are deployed, the encounters are covered on
a long lens some distance away, but suddenly Philip notices
the wolves have returned and seem to be playing tug-of-war.
They've stolen his jacket.
To find out where they've taken it, he uses a drone.
The wolves are so engrossed in their game,
they don't even notice the aerial surveillance.
Then they roll on the coat.
It's their way of leaving their mark before abandoning it.
Later, time to assess the damage.
Well, considering it was set upon by...
-..a pack of wolves...
-Is that urine?
It isn't only personal belongings that the wolves rough-handle.
Spy Cub may have been popular with most of the wolves,
but he didn't survive unscathed.
His camera eye tells the story.
He is being carried by the scruff of his neck.
Just like she would carry one of her own cubs.
This journey is the last thing he ever filmed.
When filming dangerous animals,
it helps to have spy creatures in reserve.
In Kenya, Spy Hippo is about to swim among the real thing.
He is one of two different models that are being deployed.
Park regulations mean the crew have to be accompanied
by an armed ranger.
It is Rosie's job to protect against poachers.
And, of course, the river's inhabitants
can be dangerous as well.
This spy hippo is submersible,
and he is mainly designed to film underwater shots of the hippos.
A second spy hippo has been constructed
to film mainly at the surface.
Don, can you get on the sticks, please?
Both spy creatures offer close-up views above and below the water.
A successful launch,
and the submersible spy hippo is soon entering their world.
And he's soon getting some promising footage.
Now it's the other spy hippo's turn to see what he can capture.
Give me a blink, John.
A tantalising glimpse, but can he get closer?
Before long, they are face-to-face.
Then, some of the closest views of hippos ever captured.
But despite spy creatures having eyes everywhere,
they can still be caught unawares.
A little too close for comfort.
Then, a huge problem.
Spy Hippo's motors are stuck in the weed.
Producer Rob faces an unenviable decision.
The waters may be full of hippos, but with few alternatives,
he decides to launch a one-man rescue mission.
There are crocs in these waters too, but if he moves too quickly,
it could attract them.
Rosie and the crew scan the clear water carefully.
It's a calculated risk. Rob knows that hippos rarely attack in water.
But he must still watch his step.
He is a zoologist with over 20 years' experience
of wildlife film-making.
But it's still a tense moment.
It's a huge relief when both he and Spy Hippo make it to the bank.
However many precautions you take,
filming dangerous animals always carries a risk.
Another crew are in Botswana, trying to track down the wild dog.
Cameraman Richard Jones has spent his professional life
filming African animals, and he can read their every sign.
There's a doggy footprint there.
His instincts are rarely wrong.
Are they fresh?
Yeah, that's this morning.
In this terrain, animals are extremely difficult to find.
I can see the plains ahead.
But the fresh trail soon leads into the pack.
The dogs seem to have found something concealed
in the long grass. THEY BARK
-A male leopard.
-Are you coming this way?
Richard senses trouble. He makes a bizarre request.
Where's my hat?
Why he wants his hat becomes clear as things escalate.
He knows the dogs are deliberately winding up the leopard.
They are far too nimble to be caught,
and the angry leopard takes refuge in a tree.
With their enemy humiliated, the wild dogs slink away.
But the leopard is left, pumped up with aggression.
He shifts focus to the crew stuck in the back of the truck.
That was directed at us, wasn't it?
Richard explains about the hat.
Just be ready to throw it at the leopard if it comes.
-Will that work?
-I'm not quite sure.
No-one can reach the driver's seat. They are totally exposed.
Then it happens.
The leopard jumps onto the vehicle to grab Richard.
-Get away! Away! Away!
He was going for us!
What we didn't see is Richard throwing his hat.
-Your hat worked.
-Well, shall we get moving in case he decides
to come back and have some more of us?
He knew it was his best chance to distract the leopard.
Richard's experience and quick thinking saves the day.
Fortunately, the wild dog pup and other spy creatures
usually enjoy a far warmer welcome.
Spy Langur is no exception.
Under the skin is a tiny plastic skull
with sophisticated electronics and a 4K camera packed in.
But it's what's happening in the living brain of the real monkeys
that Spy Langur is built to film.
He's deployed at an Indian temple to record their baby-sitting skills.
First reactions are always fascinating.
But the important work begins when the spies are fully embedded
among the animals they are filming.
This shoot lasts a month, and over time,
the monkeys become totally used to Spy Monkey.
But some things can never be predicted.
When Spy Monkey is removed from his perch and dropped,
they appear to believe he has died.
They react just as they do when a real baby dies.
The show of grief is not only moving, it also astonishes
the scientist here who has studied the langurs
for the last ten years.
It provides new insights into the mind of
a sophisticated and caring primate.
Generally, the more intelligent the animal,
the more sophisticated the spy creature needs to be.
And the greatest challenge is yet to come.
Design on the creature starts with computer modelling,
and this one is the most ambitious yet.
A spy orang-utan with the facial expressions of the real thing.
The head alone has over 30 moving parts.
After months of work, the finished spy orang is in Borneo,
ready to see if the hard work had been worth it.
But first, she has to pass the scrutiny
of the most revered orang-utan scientist in the world.
To maintain the surprise, she is concealed from view.
It's a real pleasure to introduce our spy orang-utan to you.
Oh, my gosh. She is truly a beauty.
Let me take a picture of her.
-Feel free to go in and have a closer look at all the details.
This is Dr Birute Galdikas.
She has spent the last 40 years studying and conserving orang-utans.
Matt shows her how the spy creature works.
It's got quite a wide field of view as well.
But she's not the only one keen to take a look.
And the wild orang-utan is mesmerised.
-She's over there.
Orang-utans are highly intelligent and hard to fool.
But now she's stupefied.
What always fascinates us is knowing what must be going through
-Well, they are trying to figure out if she is real or not.
-From this distance, she looks very real.
You can tell what they're thinking just from their eyes.
-No, her expressions are very good.
-Oh, thank you.
-No, she's very real.
-Well, maybe we should move...
..so that the orang-utans can come by, and let's see what happens.
These initial reactions are always unpredictable.
It's not long before a curious male is displaying his intelligence.
Why not use a branch to test Spy Orang's reaction?
It's just one of many encounters in the time she spent among them.
This youngster is especially curious.
It even takes a clump of hair.
Perfect for trying out a new look.
But it takes two weeks for the crew to get the footage
they hardly dared hope for.
Suddenly, from out of the jungle, one of Dr Birute's
favourite orang-utans appears,
and picks up a saw left at a research hut.
When she sees that Spy Orang is sawing too,
it becomes a competition.
In the end, she tires of the game and takes a more laid-back approach.
With the help of the Spy Orang, this female, born and raised in the wild,
gives us a glimpse of just how small the gap between us really is.
Having astounded us with what she can do,
she heads back to the jungle.
Spy Orang had been part of something truly memorable.
Each of the spy creatures, with the help of their
sophisticated technology, filmed something new and unexpected.
From the outer reaches of the polar regions...
to the sweltering heat of the tropics,
their unique perspective allowed them to reveal intimate moments
in the lives of all the animals they filmed,
and discover unexpected parallels with our own lives.
They made us smile, and even touched our hearts.
The teams were astonished and moved by what they captured,
and in the end, the animals told their own stories.
Helped, of course, by the spy creatures.
This extraordinary animatronic team brought us closer
to understanding just how like us animals really are.
A behind-the-scenes view of the extraordinary story behind deploying the Spy Creatures, showing how the concept evolved and became the inspiration for the animatronic animals of the series. Discover the painstaking work behind building the lifelike models, from first concept until they become alive for the first time.
In Borneo, Spy Orang travels by speedboat to meet wild orangutans and joins them in their soap washing and sawing behaviour. In Uganda, Spy Crocodile and Spy Hatchlings go on their first mission along the banks of the treacherous River Nile, dodging hippos and elephants along the way, before the Spy Hatchlings meet some overly maternal crocodiles. In Africa, Spy Egret goes on safari and encounters an elephant herd for the first nerve-wracking time and Spy Tortoise is crushed by a five-ton elephant but still valiantly keeps filming.
Spy Hippo gets stuck in the middle of a hippo- and crocodile-infested river and has to be rescued by a crew member nervously wading among them. In Australia, Jewelcams, used to test the thieving behaviour of bowerbirds, are then discovered by local children who are filmed trying to take them home. Spy Bushbaby meets the chimpanzee scientist and is deployed among the chimps for the first time. Spy Cub and the team venture to the high arctic to film real wolves but have their clothes stolen from camp by the mischievous wolves who are becoming a little over familiar. Ultimately, Spy Cub meets his demise in the jaws of a lone wolf.