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Penguins - Spy in the Huddle is the next in the series of nature "spy camera" documentaries produced by John Downer Productions

It was broadcast in three parts on BBC One starting on February 11, 2013 at 9:00 PM. 

The series was narrated by David Tennantwho has served as narrator for three other Downer series, Earthflight, Polar Bear  Spy on the Ice and Swarm - Nature's Incredible Invasions.

Acorn Media UK released the series on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 8, 2013.

The production team is famous for it's use of hidden cameras to capture nature, in this series the used penguin-cam, pictured here.

"Despite drawing a few quizzical looks, the so-called ‘Penguin-cam’, which has camera lenses in its eyes, was able to waddle in and mingle with the real birds.

It was also used to ‘lay’ an ‘Egg-cam’, which successfully captured charming images of a six-week-old chick peering into it through natural curiosity.

They also used an underwater ‘Penguin-cam’ and a ‘Toboggan-cam’, a full-sized Emperor model which can join a group of real birds by slithering in on its stomach – in fact a motorised sledge." - The Daily Mail - February 1, 2013 - Nigell Blundell


Synopsis: "Emperor penguins cross a treacherous frozen sea to reach their breeding grounds, and on the way one becomes lost in a blizzard. Once there, the females flipper flight over the males and those that succeed 'waddle walk' with their partners. They must lay their eggs without touching the ice, but it is the males that face the greatest challenge - overwintering alone in the coldest place on earth." - BBC

The first episode pulled in 4.6 million viewers and an 18% share according to MediaTel.

"David Tennant is a charming narrator as we learn about the Emperors in the Antarctic this week . . ." - Yahoo TV
penguins 1


Synopsis: "Watched by spycams, chicks are hatching out all over. Male emperors form an identity parade before handing over their newborns to the returning females. The mothers shuffle into a huddle to protect their offspring from a blizzard. Outside, one tiny chick doesn't make it and lies frozen by his mother. Chickcam films the young ones walking on their mothers' feet and taking their own first unsteady steps. Females without young try to kidnap the new arrivals and giant petrels force the chicks to huddle for protection." - BBC


Synopsis:  "The emperor penguins are swamped by hungry imposters as they try to feed their chicks, the humboldts are left in their burrows as the adults head for a beach swarming with cormorants, and the rockhopper youngsters practise their jumping skills. Eventually, having grown up and become independent, all the penguins leave for the sea, tackling the same hazards as their parents before them." - Radio Times

September 26, 2013 - Sydney Morning Herald

Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, Ten, 6.30pm

"He may take star billing, but former Doctor Who star David Tennant has merely lent his charming Scottish burr to this wildlife documentary featuring incredible footage captured by ingenious robotic cameras.

Remarkably lifelike replicas of the emperor, rockhopper and desert-dwelling Humboldt penguins roam among the colonies, filming close-ups that have never been seen before.

The sheer beauty of this strangely human birdlife is indulged with spectacular scenery and Tennant's enlightening and thoughtfully paced script. No attempt is made to anthropomorphise the subjects, and yet it is impossible not to be moved by the sight of a lone penguin trudging towards an icy horizon in search of his flock."

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