There’s something about meerkats. Maybe it’s their little beady eyes, or their curiously stiff, upright posture that makes them appear to be striving to be human. Whatever that quality is, the camera clearly loves them, making the humble meerkat an obvious choice for a March of the Penguins-style documentary feature from the BBC’s Natural History department.
With a narration written by Alexander McCall Smith and delivered, in a voice that sounds older than Methuselah, by the late, great Paul Newman, Meerkats follows the formative years of Kolo, a young meerkat getting to grips with the realities of life in the Kalahari desert. With threats to Kolo’s family including a deadly snake, an eagle with a grudge and a weather-system that turns up the heat to unbearable degrees, it’s clearly tough out there for a meerkat, and Kolo’s fight for survival is rendered intensely and sympathetically under the direction of James Honeybourne, a former Wildlife On One producer.
There’s clearly a bit of trickery involved in creating the drama here, and as with most nature documentaries, a regrettable tendency to force human values onto the animals involved. But if you’re vulnerable to the charms of little critters, The Meerkats come up as cute as a button.
(U) 83min General release from Fri 7 Aug.