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Last night: Our cousins in the jungle.

Wearing black top and khaki tabard and trousers, she looks like Alien's Ripley and, striding into jungle clearings you can't help but think of deodorant ads. She's also positively bursting with girlish enthusiasm and sense of wonder, eyes twinkling and smiles that make Carol Vorderman seem positively miserable. She's Charlotte Uhlenbroek. She's got a PhD in animal communications (she speaks good gorilla), she studied under Jane Goodall and, after making her TV debut in one of the Dawn To Dusk programmes, she's being groomed as the rising star of the BBC Natural History unit. Did I mention she's a lot more attractive than David Attenborough?

Destined to suddenly have thousands of men taking an unprecedented interest in wildlife programmes, she's the writer and presenter of Cousins (BBC1), a look at the social natures of primates in general and chimps in particular.

Watching the first, primates, you can understand where her youthful excitement comes from. As you'd expect from Bristol, there's fabulous footage here, but, almost as if the camera crew have been infected by Charlotte's enthusiasm, there's an extra buzz that brings the whole thing even more alive.

Of course, the subjects have a lot to do with it. Globetrotting from Rwanda to Madagascar, swinging through trees, trekking across razor sharp rocks, from mountain gorillas (her first ever encounter, 'I can't believe I'm here,' she gasped with undisguised awe) to a seemingly endless variety of lemurs, this was stuffed with great moments. One species of lemur dance along on two legs as if in some jungle rave, a Slow Loris ambles lazily through the branches, and a Black Lemur smears a millipede's narcotic secretions over its fur to get stoned. The BBC have another definite nature series ratings winner on their hands. And the animals are worth watching too.

Mike Davies
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Author:Davies, Mike
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 17, 2000
Words:301
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