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Critic’s Choice; Discover beauty of the beasts

Brilliant Creatures ITV, 4.45pm

THIS new series seems fully aware that the more repulsive the beast, the more interested the child.

“We don’t just want to concentrate on the beauty of animals,” they tell us. “We want to look at the ugly, the poisonous, the disgusting, and the strangest animals.”

And so do we. The first episode, for example includes a pygmy hippo with a face only a mother could love.

The show is presented by Gail McKenna, Newsround reporter Chris Rogers and Pets Win Prizes stalwart Terry Nutkins, who has been doing this kind of thing for so long…

He started off hosting Animal Magic with the late legend Johnny Morris and he must by now be regarded by generations of kids as the man who knows the most about animals in the world.

Brilliant Creatures is divided into four sections which continue the hyperbolic `brilliant’, motif: `Brilliant but Deadly’, `Brilliant Babies’, `The Beauty Parlour’, and the much- anticipated `Poo Corner’, all of which will reveal obscure and mostly disgusting facts about the animal kingdom.

There will also be a segment titled `Brilliant Creatures Down Under’, in which Terry will dive with whale sharks, “muster” camels, and “tag” turtles without ever losing his breathless enthusiasm for all things definitely not human and probably not hygienic.

Which is understandable when you learn that turtle tagging involves jumping off a speeding boat on top of the giant creatures as they float in the clear blue waters off Queensland. And there’s a regular `My Brilliant Pet’ slot, which will include a little girl who keeps a tarantula as a pet and a young man worryingly devoted to his collection of cockroaches.

The series starts as it means to go on today, as the visibly anxious Chris gets to handle the undeniably impressive but surely villainous Emperor scorpion.

He reveals that while the show was being shot, the crew noticed that he was getting increasingly tense about the prospect of holding the miniature murderer, and so they decided Chris was a prime target for a practical joke.

“The keeper asked me if I wanted to hold it during rehearsal and I said no,” he says. “He said it might try to crawl up my arm and be quite lively. And when the moment came for the scorpion to be given to me, this massive lobster- size scorpion was thrown at me!”

The crew, needless to say, thought this was brilliant.

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