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The Mating Game: a Natural World Special

Fri Jul 19, 9-10pm, BBC2

Dating sucks, but it’s a whole lot worse for a topi. Butting its opponents to the point of exhaustion on the blazing savannah to impress a potential partner, only to be pulled apart by bloody hyenas. Actually, maybe a night out in Newquay might run that close, but there’s no denying that animals across the world have to work damned hard to pull.

Polar bears track scents for weeks with no guarantee of success; wolves find their overtures hijacked by parents keen to maintain their own primacy; and birds of paradise spend hours preening and polishing, often to no avail. All this and more is caught on camera of course, although much will be familiar to seasoned watchers of BBC wildlife docs. Indeed, some of the quickfire editing may leave you wanting more.

Equally, the chirpy, quirky soundtrack threatens to sabotage the typically glorious visuals more than once, and David Attenborough’s voiceover veers towards anthropomorphising on occasion. But there’s plenty here to enchant, even if it’s not top-tier documentary-making. Perhaps we’re just spoilt.