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Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero

Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero

Sun Apr 28, 8-9pm, BBC2

By Adam Lee Davies
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Episode two
With our review of the opening episode of this two-part historical nature trek having used up the entire Time Out fund of junglist massive/drum ’n’ bass gags, we’ll spare you the tortuous LTJ Bukem references and get down to business. We join Bill Bailey following further along the tracks of his hero, Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, the intrepid Welsh biologist who – entirely independent Charles Darwin – divined a theory of natural selection while yomping about Indonesia and Malaysia.

Bailey paints a tale of gentleman versus players, with Wallace forced to pay his way – like some extra-tweedy Indiana Jones – by selling the specimens he found on his travels to museums, while the aristocratic Darwin sat at home dozing over a pot of milky tea in his conservatory. Wallace is largely forgotten today, and Bailey’s attempts to elevate him into the position of co-author of our modern understanding are laudable. A very welcome reminder that even giants stand on the shoulders of giants and that, as Bailey postulates, maybe history will always prefer one name over two.
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