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Britain's Tiger Kings - On The Trail With Ross Kemp

  • Episode:

    1 of 2

  • Transmission (TX):

    Tue 30 Mar 2021

  • TX Confirmed

    Yes

  • Time

    9.00pm - 10.00pm

  • Week:

    Week 13 2021 : Sat 27 Mar - Fri 02 Apr

  • Channel:

    ITV

  • Published:

    Thu 18 Mar 2021

The information contained herein is embargoed from all Press, online, social media, non-commercial publication or syndication - in the public domain - until Tuesday 23 March 2021.

Britain's Tiger Kings - On The Trail With Ross Kemp

Series overview

This new two-part documentary series features Ross Kemp on the trail of Britain's very own tiger and lion kings - those who keep dangerous wild animals.

The new series features the award-winning documentary maker as reporter, going on a journey to discover why anyone would want to keep a 250kg feline, and asking whether it is in the best interests of the animal to do so.

It's understood there are about 4,000 animals including lions, tigers, bears, crocodiles and giant snakes in private hands in the country.

Episode 1

In the first programme, filmed in line with Covid rules, Ross meets a man who keeps two lions in his back garden, and discovers that the rescued big cats have caused fierce division in the village where they are kept, with some neighbours expressing concern about the wellbeing of the big cats.

The owner of the lions, Reece Oliver, when Ross asks him if he thinks his plot of land is big enough compared to sanctuaries, says it is not and he is putting a planning application in to make the area bigger: "At the end of the day, if you take those lions away from me, or from the setting that they know, it’s gonna be stressful for them. It’s not the best for the animals. They’re happy here and they love me. When I’m not there, they kind of miss me and then when I’m there, they’re like puppy dogs."

With animal rights groups and some of his neighbours in opposition to his wild animal collection, Ross asks what might have motivated Reece’s obsession, to which he replies: "I like to take risks. I’m a bit unique, you know, I always want something different and I like to be different. And I don’t really—I’ve gone past the point in my life where I care so much about what people think."

Ross heads to Lincolnshire to meet Andrew and Tracey Riddell, dangerous wild animal collectors, whose large property is home to monkeys, serval wild cats, lions, and bears. While watching their lion eat, when Ross asks Tracey about her relationship with the animals, she says: "I couldn’t be like a normal zoo and pass him on to another zoo. I wouldn’t do it, no… They are my babies."

When Ross says: "It’s amazing, the breaking strain on the jaw. He’s just cracking through the bone, isn’t he?"

Tracey laughs: "Could be your head!"

In Oxfordshire Ross meets former circus trainer Jim Clubb who now trains animals for television programmes, films and adverts, and keeps tigers among his menagerie. Asked if he was scared about going in the cage with one of his beloved Royal Bengals, he says: "I’m always scared. If you think these animals can’t harm you, then that’s the wrong attitude. Remember a tiger can kill you with just one bite or a blow of his paw. Anyway, let’s hope nothing like that happens this afternoon…"

Ross also travels to Munich, where he unwittingly ends up in a cage with a lion when he meets Martin Lacey, an English circus trainer with the largest collection of big cats on the continent.

Ross says: "There will be lots of people in Britain that will say, 'Well, that’s totally wrong, we love animals, that’s why we don’t want to see them in circuses or in zoos or in cages.'"

He replies: "People don’t understand about animals. In England, it’s a land of animal lovers but sadly don’t understand so much about animals. The animals have everything what they need. You can see yourself how good-looking all the animals are, we really take care of our animals, and maybe they are just brainwashed into thinking that we don’t take care of our animals… But everybody that knows us—all my friends from England that come over with their families, they think it’s fantastic and they don’t have it in England any more."