I’m the kind of guy who loves this kind of thing. I cancel social engagements for ‘Springwatch’ and harass badgers with alarming intensity. So when TVJam asked me to review Foxes Live, I leapt at the chance with a happy heart, full of the cute and carefree joys of nature in all its gambolling glory.
Didn’t quite turn out that way.
Firstly, the programme lures you in with baby foxes. All baby foxes, all the time. Then BAM: one of these chicken-killing monsters is captured by the hens’ owner. Is this the end for the pullicidal pooch? Phew! He’s an animal-loving hipster. He even treats its mange (there’s a lot of mange around, incidentally. If this show were a carol, it would be “Away in a Mange”. If it were a film, it’d be “Dr Mangelove”).
But then things go downhill. Chico (rather an insensitive name,considering) is released in suburban Manchester, and is understandably unwilling to leave his box. Yes, gents, it’s a fox in a box- inquiries into whether it was also wearing socks proved inconclusive. Dr Seuss didn’t return our calls.
Miraculously, by week two, Chico still isn’t roadkill. And thanks to the wonders of technology, we get to see where he’s been since his release. Well, that or we’re tracking the ankle tag of a particularly proactive cat-burglar.
If you’re inspired by Chico – and it is pretty ace – you can track other foxes online. They’ve stuck GPS collars on cats as well, to see how they interact with foxes. My guess is illegal cribbage games and bar fights.
And it’s not just wild foxes- we also meet housefox Snookums (oh god), who is just a fantastically bad idea but…aaaw! She certainly has it good- while she watches telly, her owner scavenges through bins for her: an impressive bit of reverse psychology.
I for one welcome our new vulpine overlords.
*girds loins* *stiffens upper lip* *sobs like a baby left in front of Steel Magnolias* Right, I can’t put it off any longer. The single most traumatic moment in TV history occurred last week, when an otherwise-standard video diary of a vixen bringing up three cubs turned into a drawn-out montage of the sickening death of each cub in turn.
Yeah, you read that right.
I wept so much that my dog came over and rubbed her head against my wet, shuddering face, and tried to play, even though she’s normally as aloof as a cat who went to Eton.
But the misery isn’t over by week two. They shoot foxes, don’t they? Yes. Yes, they do. We saw a man take a GUN to a fox’s HEAD. Yeah, the camera turns away but BANG oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. Christ.
Thankfully, if you don’t want to poison, excraniate or otherwise murder cute animals, you can try deterring them instead. Our collective tear ducts got a rest while we watched a genteel suburban family try out water and sonic deterrents. Oh, and an Essex boy invited his mates around to drink all night and spray the garden in their own inimitable way, while slathering the flowerbeds with lion poo. As you do.
Completely without success, thank God, as otherwise we’d have missed out on awesome “fox on a trampoline” footage.
That was my last episode of Foxes Live (I can’t take the emotional trauma), but if you can handle the mental torment I’d encourage you to keep watching as we heard Brian May showed off his cubs on tonight’s show.
Let’s hope that’s not a euphemism.
Foxes Live is on daily this week at 8pm on Channel 4. Catch up with Foxes Live on 4od here