The Snow Wolf: A Winter’s Tale, BBC 2, BBCiPlayer, writer and director Fred Fougea, narrator Emilia Fox.

snow wolf.jpg

Here we have a Fox, in this case Emilia, talking about a wolf, or Snow Wolf. I know what you’re thinking. Where’s David Attenborough? That whispering presence that adds the glitter and gold dust to so many BBC productions and ensures the gold standard of reportage. Here we have to do with the lesser known relative, of lesser lineage, but admirable in her own way.

The camera work is a miracle. We know how they get up close with tracking collars and cameras that film for twenty-four hours. We see the Snow Wolf’s trek through the Alps, the Dolomites and other European mountains such as the Pyrenees.

In any drama there is equilibrium and then there is chaos. So we have the alpha male and the alpha female, our Snow Wolf, hunting and then we have disequilibrium. Or tragedy. The alpha male is mauled by a bear.

We’re told with bated breath that wolves mate for life. She stays, the wolf pack goes. Her daughter becomes the new queen and the Snow Wolf must leave or the pack will turn upon and kill her.

But the Snow Wolf has a secret, she is with child, or six cubs. She must flee alone and find sanctuary where she can give birth and nurture the next pack of wee wolves.

And so it comes to pass, with a lot of snow and mountain passes. Beautiful, photogenic little puppies, frolicking.  We also see a lynx cat stalking the cubs, ready to make a meal of them for her own cubs. There’s always that wee cub that is more cute than the rest and more liable to stray and not last another day. Good dramatically.

The Snow Wolf has the dilemma faced by many wild animals. Easy pickings on the doorstep, in this case, sheep driven up the mountains by a shepherd and his dogs. Man is the real killer. The Snow Wolf dodges a bullet here. But in dodging the bullet and trying to find enough food and milk to feed her young they stray into another pack of wolves’ territory. They too will hunt and kill intruders.

The Snow Wolf and her cute little cubs need to find their way through city streets and bridges, they need to find their way to open ground where they can be safe. We see them scooting through alleys and bypassing man. They look as if they know where they are going to, which they do, because I’m pretty sure this bit is made up.

Safely, on the other side of freedom, all they need to complete their family is another single male wolf. She Wolf puts up ads. Single male wanted. Please pish on this bush, so I can scent you’re interested. Then we get it, the blood-curdling call of the Snow Wolf. Here I’m over here, she howls. Before you can say jack robin, a wolf is swimming across lakes and striding across lands, he’s looking for a family of six and he now knows where to find them. They’re in a National Park and so safe, plenty of take-aways on tap.

Beautifully done, for a hard-working and single mum.