Saturday, 12 January 2013

Bubbling under in the Deadly 60

Steve Backshall is a naturalist and television presenter. He roams the planet dressed in a succession of khaki outfits, on an implausible, unending quest to track down and interview the world’s 60 deadliest animals for his show: Deadly 60.

Sixty is such an arbitrary number. In any case, the programme’s concept has long been undermined by its presenter’s boundless enthusiasm, which has seen him induct over 100 species of animal onto the list. Backshall is one of those people who, when asked for their top ten albums of the year,  gives you his choices, along with another 50 or so records that were “just bubbling under.”

Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering where I figure in the Steve Backshall’s Deadly 60. Is my ranking greater than my position in line to the English throne? Should  I invest my time and effort in developing my royal etiquette, or would it be better spent honing my fighting skills and perhaps evolving some poison-tipped tusks, with a view to rising up through the ranks of nature’s hardest living bastards?

I dream that one day I will leave the house and there will be a film crew waiting to capture to me in the act of inflicting fatal pwnage upon some poor unfortunate gazelle or wildebeest, undertaking its annual migration from Shoeburyness to the verdant grasslands of Westcliff-on-Sea. Presently Steve Backshall will appear and will congratulate me on my induction to the Deadly 60. After I have graciously thanked him, god, and my parents for always being there for me, and having delivered a brief anti-drugs message, I will warn him that if he awards me under 4 skulls in any category, I will hunt him down, using the bloodhound-like scent-tracking abilities that he has just described to his viewers.

I also wonder where Steve places himself in the Deadly 60. Is he humble, placing himself on a level footing with the humble dormouse? Does he think that he can beat down a Komodo Dragon in a bar fight? On YouTube there is grainy footage of him allegedly slaying an orc, although, on closer inspection, it is not altogether clear whether the orc is dead, or has simply been clubbed unconscious. If Steve didn’t kill the orc then he can’t really be described as deadly as no one has died. By comparison, a long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far away, I killed hundreds of Imperial Stormtroopers, because I am a rebel like James Dean or Marlon Brando in his films The Wild One or The Island of Doctor Moreau.

If Deadly 60 has a flaw, besides its blatant inability to count to sixty, it’s that Steve Backshall doesn’t really sing enough. The late Roy Castle used to sign off every episode of Record Breakers by performing a song called Dedication. This included a trumpet solo that he would also play. Backshall doesn’t really do musical numbers and I think this is to his detriment as a presenter. The Deadly 60 Duets, in which he would perform Queen and Elton John numbers with Great White Sharks and Bengal Tigers, would make for utterly compelling, must-watch, television.

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