Wild Isles — the landmark, five part natural history series celebrating the natural wonders of the British Isles, presented by Sir David Attenborough, is currently going out on Sunday nights on BBC One. Now that the episode has aired, Jules can share he worked over two years as a consultant on Episode 2: Woodland as part of Silverback Films team that filmed the sequence of a roe deer mother bringing up her new born kids amongst the tranquil, secluded glades and bracken of an ancient woodland cemetery. The episode is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
For the first year’s filming, shot by Harry Yates and Hamza Yassin, Jules worked at the location, sharing his knowledge of this particular doe and her maternity habits built up over the previous few years he had followed her and her succession of offspring, and liaising with the owners of the site where the sequence was filmed. For the second year’s filming, shot by Katie Mayhew, Jo Charlesworth and Joff Fenton, the team were hoping to achieve footage of new born roe deer kids. This presented something of a challenge as roe deer mothers are, by nature, highly secretive when they give birth. In preparation for the shoot, Jules spent a number of weeks visiting the site, locating, tracking the doe and watching her closely to see how she was getting on with her pregnancy. Think of his role as Call the Deer Midwife! The doe’s due date, based on the established pattern from previous years, came and went, but the fact that the kids had moved into the birthing position gave Jules confidence all was well. The filming team were delighted then when they went out one evening to film to find the doe had successfully given birth to two gorgeous, wobbly fawns — and to film her licking them clean — having given birth only a few moments before. It was an emotional moment none of us involved in this shoot will forget. The team were able to film some truly beautiful, intimate footage Jules hopes you will agree. It was a fantastic achievement to capture these rarely seen, first moments of life for this doe mother’s twin fawns.
Jules would like to thank everyone at Silverback films for the opportunity to be involved. As a stills photographer Jules tends to work alone; it was great therefore to work collaboratively for a change and to be part of the team that shot this remarkable sequence. Jules would like to say a particular thank you to episode producer & director Chris Howard, assistant producer Joff Fenton together with the talented team of camera operators (in order of meeting): Harry Yates, Hamza Yassin, Katie Mayhew, and Jo Charlesworth. Congratulations to you all for what is a beautiful piece of wildlife film making — and how brilliant it aired on Mother’s Day!