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Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure

  • Episode:

    1 of 2

  • Transmission (TX):

    Tue 02 Jul 2019

  • TX Confirmed


  • Time

    9.00pm - 10.00pm

  • Week:

    Week 27 2019 : Sat 29 Jun - Fri 05 Jul

  • Channel:


  • Published:

    Wed 19 Jun 2019

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Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure


Series overview


“This trip has been the most extraordinary time of my life.”


“This jungle is beyond my wildest dreams. Around every corner there’s always an extraordinary creature.” Dame Judi Dench


In this brand new documentary series for ITV, national treasure Dame Judi Dench embarks on a wild adventure to Borneo to explore one of the oldest and most spectacular rainforests, meet its enchanting animals and get a vivid insight into the importance of this rainforest to life on our planet. 


Judi reveals her passion for both orangutans and their habitat as she delves deep into one of the few untouched rainforests remaining in South East Asia. 


Featuring stunning footage, the series brings to life this incredible rainforest which has some of the most diverse wildlife on the planet and the tallest tropical trees in the world. The tallest was recently discovered to be over 100 metres tall and the series sees Judi climbing one. 


During her adventure in Borneo, the world’s third largest island, Judi experiences amazing interactions with animals including orangutans, sun bears, elephants, crocodiles and hornbills.


She glimpses stunning flying creatures like the unusual gliding mammal, the Kubong, that can fly for over 100 metres. She also sees more than a million bats, a dung beetle called Bob and a snake she names James Bond.


Dame Judi is astonished when the jungle comes alive at night.  With as many as 80,000 species, the insects in Borneo could make up nearly one tenth of the number on the planet


As she travels down one of Borneo’s mightiest rivers, the Kinabatangan, Dame Judi goes on an extraordinary crocodile hunt where young crocodiles are plucked from the river by hand and adult crocodiles wrestled - all in the name of science.


And finally she explores the wonderful marine life – the forests of coral that fringe the shores of the tropical island.


As she shares her magical wildlife adventure with her chap, naturalist David Mills, they learn how important the rainforest is as the lungs of the world and how the animals are actually helping us by maintaining the health of this unique environment and helping save the planet. 


Episode 1


In the first episode, Dame Judi experiences the rainforest for the first time in a thrilling 125 mile helicopter ride to the heart of the island with expert Glen Reynolds. The jungle there is 130 million years old – so ancient it was around when dinosaurs walked the earth. 


As she sees the rainforest for the first time, she says: “It is spectacular. I never imagined that it would be quite so over powering to look at. It is like flying over broccoli. It is like nothing I have ever seen before.” 


Once she arrives, Dame Judi meets orangutans in the wild, encounters giant grasshoppers and moths and falls in love with a dung beetle she names Bob.


As she sees a male orangutan for the first time in a tree above her, she says: “He’s so relaxed. It takes your breath away.” 


Dame Judi discovers how the orangutans, which share 97 per cent of their DNA with humans,  are helping to prevent global warming by spreading the seeds of the large trees that are the most efficient at hoovering up the harmful carbon in the atmosphere. 


In the company of expert Tom Fayle and Tony Kirkham, the head of the arboretum at Kew, she is hoisted up one of the tallest trees in the forest to discover how the rainforest is a multilayered Eden with up to 30 per cent of life existing high in its canopy.


As she is lifted through the air, Dame Judi says: “I haven’t even got there yet and I feel as if I am entering another world. I feel incredibly privileged. I feel I know the rainforest quite well now. It’s spectacular.” 


Featuring incredible close-up footage of the dung beetles at work, Dame Judi discovers that without dung beetles, we would all be knee deep in poo. Dame Judi says: “They are very, very skilled and unbelievably strong. These are the ultimate rainforest cleaners. This jungle is beyond my wildest dreams. Around every corner there’s always an extraordinary creature.”


With her chap David Mills, she meets scientist Greg Asner who is using the latest science to map the forest from the skies to reveal how the loss of rainforest for timber and for palm oil is having a devastating impact on the planet by destroying the lungs of the world. 


As she watches footage taken from the skies, Dame Judi says: “It has given me an amazing insight into the importance of the rainforests for all of us. More forest means more homes for wildlife.”


But she also learns that there is hope when she discovers that an area three times the size of London is going to be reclaimed as protected forest.


And finally she explores how orphan sun bears are being released back into the wild. She joins Dr Wong Siew Te, who raised them, as he releases three back into the wild.


Produced by Atlantic Productions for ITV.


Quotes from Dame Judi Dench about the series:


“I can’t quite believe we are here and what we are going to see. What we are going to find out. What we are going to discover.”


“Here we are on a Wednesday morning up this incredible river, we’ve just found a crocodile. No Wednesday will ever be the same.”


“It’s not often that this happens, that you walk along a corridor and a small, three-year old orangutan walks around the corner towards you. Such a great sight. Yet another experience in this amazing time which I will never forget.” 


“I’ve learnt how vulnerable this wonderful place is and what we need to do to save it. This journey has affected me so much, and I’m thrilled I’ve been asked to be an ambassador for its rainforest.”