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Nature of Britain: In front of the lens 2

Updated Wednesday 10th October 2007

Dr Janet Sumner goes swimming with seals.

I’m a scientist, so,  I’m passionate about science – but I also recognise that many people never really engaged with it at school, and that many kids (and often their parents too) find science a turn off, so one of the reasons I was so keen to join the Open University – was that I knew they were trying very hard to promote science to the general public and I really wanted to support that. I love making science and nature films and it’s great to have the chance to go and meet maybe tomorrow’s future  ‘Sir David Attenborough’, or even a ‘Dame Attenborough’. I know that many of you love the nature programmes on the BBC – but if you’re not in ‘the TV business’ it’s often difficult to understand how such programmes are made. So usually when I go and give a talk, like I did for Year 7 at Park Middle School, and to the general public at Biddulph Library in Staffordshire, I try to explain what it’s really like.


Janet and pupils Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC - used with permission from the headteacher
Janet and pupils at Park Middle School, Biddulph.

In light of what has gone on in the press of late regarding BBC truth and honesty,  I think it’s important to reassure you that we are not trying to lie and cheat about our nature programmes – with Nature of Britain we show you the wildlife that we saw on the days we were out filming, and have not bought in footage from elsewhere.

I usually try to explain to the  kids – the importance of the ‘two shot’ that is the presenter with the animal.

Of course, the 'two shot' is the ultimate, as it shows the presenter was right there with wildlife in question.  This can be hard enough to get on land – but is even more difficult underwater, unless you are exceptionally lucky and the wildlife decides to play ball as it did for me a couple of weeks ago when I was sent off to go swimming with seals. One young and very curious seal decided to come right up to me put it’s face on my diving mask and look me right in the eyes – I could feel it’s whiskers tickling my face. It was a once in a lifetime experience and the underwater cameraman caught it all on film.

Of course, getting the 'two shot' is difficult enough with friendly wildlife, but the stakes are upped considerably when the wildlife is very rare. You can find out more here:


For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

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