Press Centre

Davina McCall: Life at the Extreme

  • Episode: 

    4 of 4

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Mon 21 Mar 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 12 2016 : Sat 19 Mar - Fri 25 Mar
  • Channel: 

    ITV
The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 15 March
 
“It’s pretty eerie. I’m literally in the middle of nowhere. There’s no land for miles, nothing beneath me.  I hate being on top of the ocean.  I’ve seen jaws too many times, that’s the problem. It makes me feel really vulnerable.” Davina McCall, treading water on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
 
Series overview
 
In this brand new four-part series, Davina McCall: Life at the Extreme, the television presenter travels to some of the hottest, coldest, deepest and wettest places on earth to discover how some of the most extraordinary animals on the planet survive in its most hostile environments.  
 
From the sapping heat of the desert to the biting cold of the Arctic, from the intense humidity of the rainforest to the darkest depths of the ocean, Davina’s adventures to extreme environments include running in the scorching sun alongside cheetahs, sampling how polar bears cope in -30ºC temperatures and free dive in an ocean which is home to the whale that is able to sustain one breath of air for 90 minutes.
 
By living alongside local people, scientists, tribes and the animals themselves, Davina will test the limits of her own endurance and offer viewers an insight into just how extreme, extreme can be.
 
Episode 4
 
In the final episode of the series, Davina travels to the Costa Rican jungle, one of the wettest places on earth, a habitat in which animals thrive. Even with near 100 per cent humidity, and being less than a quarter of the size of the UK, it’s home to a staggering 500,000 species of life. 
 
It’s here in the rainforest that Davina meets one its most secretive animals, the sloth, and discovers that they have the slowest digestive rate of any mammal, though that’s actually the perfect solution to the tough, low calorie content of the rainforest plants they eat.  
 
The sloth’s sedate way of life (they even blink slowly) means that they must rely on stealthy movement and camouflage to avoid predators, and with hook-like claws to hang from the branches, they are built for a life in the trees. Davina also discovers that the direction in which the sloth’s fur grows is conducive with keeping their core dry, even in the wettest of conditions.
 
After a nervous ride in a tiny airplane to the Corcovado National Park, Davina arrives in the heart of the Osa peninsula where local guide Roger Muñoz introduces her to the Poison Dart frogs, known for their vivid warning colours that advertise their poisonous skin, some toxic enough to stop a human heart.
 
Davina also comes close to a large species of tarantula that kill their prey by effectively using their venom to melt the body before drinking the juice, and the Fer-de-Lance snake, whose hemotoxic venom destroys the victim’s flesh.
 
Also putting in a biblical appearance is the Jesus Christ lizard, so called because of its ability to walk on water, and a group of Spider monkeys make their presence known high up in the trees as they compete for food, prompting Davina to say: “The noise when they get going, it’s so intense. It echoes around the whole jungle.“
 
Dusk in the rainforest sees Davina come up close to a tapir, an endangered plant-eating mammal that mostly feeds at night, so is exceptionally rare to see. Tapirs use their sensitive nose to sniff out fruit and leaves to eat, but with so much rain they also need to be totally comfortable in the water. The tapir’s trunk can actually be used as a snorkel if the rivers they are crossing are too deep. 
 
Davina also visits Osa Wildlife Sanctuary where an encounter with a monkey prompts her to say: “Oh my god that was possibly one of the most fabulous experiences of my whole life.”
 
With her time in the jungle almost over Davina wants to experience the world that exists high up in the treetops, but is nervous at the prospect of spending the night up there. As she says: “This place is so magical and that tree is so magnificent, but there is a tent at the top of it and I’m expected to sleep in it and I’m a mixture of massively excited and mildly petrified.”
 
A specialised rope climbing system enables Davina to use her weight to pull herself up the emergent tree, which at its highest is the size of an 18-storey tower block.
 
However, there is panic in the middle of the night as lightning striking directly overhead forces a petrified and sodden Davina to be lowered down from the treetop to the safety of the jungle floor.
 
Back on terra firma, and with her time at the extremes at an end, Davina reflects: “Life at the extreme has meant taking myself out of my comfort zone, but of course for the animals, these incredibly hostile places are their comfort zones. From what I’ve seen and the animals that I’ve been so lucky to get up really close to, as long as we don’t wade in and upset that really delicate balance, these animals are just so wonderfully adapted to living life at the extreme.”