documentary watch

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 12:00am


Pearl, 10.45pm

All good things come to an end and this eye-opening, brilliantly shot BBC nature series is no exception. Supernatural is said to have rewritten the ground rules for wildlife film-making, using new techniques to uncover the near-paranormal powers of animals.

The series concludes tonight with this 30-minute special, which goes behind the scenes and looks at the 'real talent' behind the production: the animals. In addition to many entertaining, intriguing and often humorous moments, the animals reveal - through their close relationship with the film-makers - many new secrets of their natural behaviour. For example, the filming of a flock of greylag geese took months of preparation. At every stage, the BBC cameras were with them - taking their first steps as they followed their human foster parent, experiencing swimming lessons in the pool, spending a day in the office, and learning to fly alongside a 'microlite' aircraft.

The wild animal stars are recorded using an array of new filming techniques. A troop of bemused monkeys, in one episode, creates havoc among the camera team as the crew uses a fly-by-wire submersible to capture footage of hippos swimming underwater. While the monkeys play among the controls and monitors, the hippos investigate a decoy hippo in their midst. Not to be missed.

When The North Wind Blows

World, 9pm

Not quite as impressive as Supernatural, but this wildlife programme is another BBC production. Produced by Andrew Cooper, it follows the remarkable survival strategies of some extraordinary creatures. Winter tests the skills and talents of all living creatures. Winter sleep is an appealing strategy but hibernation is not without risk. And did you know some bears give birth in mid-winter when they are half asleep?


HBO, 9pm

Hollywood star Robert Redford (above) ages particularly well. Despite a silver screen career that spans more than three decades, the Sundance Kid still held his own as the romantic leading man with 1993's Indecent Proposal, 1996's Up Close And Personal and most recently The Horse Whisperer in 1998. OK, they may be using more soft-focus shots to blur out the lines on his face but the award-winning director (for Ordinary People in 1980) still makes hearts flutter with his charismatic screen presence. When he made Sneakers, an action thriller directed by Phil Alden Robinson about a group of computer hackers, Redford was 55 but his star quality was still evident. He heads a great cast including Ben Kingsley, Sidney Poitier, Mary McDonnell, James Earl Jones, Dan Ackroyd and River Phoenix. Watching the characters at work trying to outwit the bad guys (and, occasionally, each other) is entertaining, though most critics feel the film does drag on a bit (1992).