Curling: In the Wild, with David Attenborough, Tongue in Cheek

Richard and David Attenborough, 2001; photo by N Cunard/REX (336048j)


His older brother, Sir Richard Attenborough was known for playing iconic roles in blockbuster films, like Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett in The Great Escape, or John Hammond in Jurassic Park. But Sir David Attenborough is known for the iconic voice of nature films, that lilting, authoritative tone which brings a cheeky gravitas to the serious drama and dramatic silliness of all creatures great and small.

As a teaser to promote the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Attenborough was brought on board by the BBC to provide a cultural anthropological assessment of the ice-bound homo sapien known as the “curler”.

Click on the video below to see nature and all its rituals, as if you are a fly on a barren tree in the frozen tundra.

Our planet, the earth, as we know it, is unique. It contains life even in its most barren stretches. In all my years of exploration, these are the creatures I find most curious. For the first time ever, filmed over the course of three afternoons in deepest Russia, using the world’s most state-of-the-art cameras, this…is…curling.

Here we have a pack of sliding curlers. Watch as the Alpha female displays her dominance over the herd by tapping the end of the frisking broom to check for rogue insects. This is a precise exercise. Off she goes, gently but flamboyantly launching the oversized walnut down the frozen river. The Alpha female’s job is now complete. It’s down to the herd to frantically follow the walnut down the river, gently frisking the foreground.

Past the red line the walnut goes. This is nature at its most vulnerable. You’ll notice a group of other walnuts are already near the flat, round nest. These are from other sliding curlers who thrust their nuts down earlier. This is to mark their territory. The aim of this ritual is to land your walnut in the center of the nest. The frisking is frantic and often futile, making no difference to the success of the net thrust. But it’s playful and all part of what makes this game the sliding curlers play so magical. Look how happy it makes them!

To see an authentic narration by Sir David Attenborough, watch this fascinating clip called “Flight of the Dung Beetle”.