John Bishop encounters one of the most endangered animals on Earth for a brand new itv show – and discovers they and his family have more in common than he ever imagined.
Filming in the forests of Rwanda for John Bishop’s Gorilla Adventure, the comedian realises adolescent male Mountain Gorillas are just like his teenage sons – bulging muscles but no sense. Plus they fart, flirt and pick their noses.
Produced by Tigress Productions, part of Endemol Shine Group and Lola Entertainment, this 1×60 film follows John as he joins a group of vets who have dedicated their lives to saving the, sadly, precious few Mountain Gorillas left in the wild rugged mountains and valleys between the borders of Rwanda, Congo and Uganda, which were made famous to UK viewers by David Attenborough’s iconic sequence filmed among them in the 1970s..
But, as John discovers, the good news is their work is paying off. Although they now number fewer than 900, when head vet Mike Cranfield started in 1998 there were barely 600 gorillas left. Now their numbers are increasing strongly, but only through the constant vigilance of the Gorilla Doctors.
They trek for hours every day through mud and rain to monitor the health of each gorilla and treat them at the first sign of illness of injury. It’s difficult, dangerous work as John experiences when a huge Silverback male threatens the team as they try to treat a baby gorilla they fear has contracted tetanus.
But, it’s also deeply rewarding. One of the great success stories is a four-year-old gorilla that John and the team manage to track down in the dense undergrowth. At just three days old, the vets had to amputate the bottom part of his left leg in a forest operation and he’s not only survived but is on track to become a full grown Silverback.
“The commitment of the Gorilla Doctors is incredibly inspiring. And when you are so close to these beautiful animals, it is humbling to see how this commitment is saving such an iconic beautiful creature.” says John.
John Bishop’s Gorilla Adventure is commissioned for itv by Andrew O’Connell, Factual Commissioning Editor and Richard Klein, Director of Factual.
Andrew said: “This film promises to deliver a hugely engaging insight into the nature of some of the most charismatic creatures on earth, the survival challenge they face and the heroic work of a team of vets devoted to supporting them. With his natural wit and passion for the subject, John takes viewers on an adventure into their world and delivers a story that will charm and move in equal measure.”
Producer Sarah Peat said: “It’s breathtaking just to glimpse a gorilla in the wild, so we couldn’t believe our luck when, from day one, John found himself surrounded by them. Mothers with babies on their backs came so close he had to get out of the way and huge Silverbacks blocked his path. It was an extraordinary experience for everyone including the vets.”
The programme is executive produced by Lisa Thomas for Lola Entertainment and produced by Sarah Peat, directed by Ben Duncan and executive produced by Dick Colthurst for Tigress Productions.