From Oxford to Bristol and Back: The Invention of Scientific Wildlife Television
In the 1960s, two scientists from Oxford University, Niko Tinbergen and Gerald Thompson, began using film as part of their scientific practice. The BBC’s Natural History Unit (NHU) in Bristol quickly got wind of their work and started collaborating with them to develop a new approach to wildlife television making. Tinbergen, the founder of ethology, brought intellectual foundations to it, creating, with Christopher Parsons, stories of wildlife informed by the theory of evolution. Thompson provided a technological edge which enabled the Bristol NHU producers to bring a new perspective to the subject matter they were showing in their programmes. The two collaborations also led them to further define their identity as experts in wildlife television making.
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