Martin Clunes sets out on an international journey to investigate the extraordinary relationship between man and beast in the two-part documentary, Man and Beast with Martin Clunes.
From birds to bears, and from pets to primates, involving ancient and modern techniques and partnerships, Martin observes humans and animals working side by side in ways that have existed and evolved during hundreds of millennia.
And he considers the conflicting nature of the relationship, which sees man nurture and love beasts which he also hunts, slaughters and eats.
Martin begins his journey for the first programme on Friday (May 15) at 9pm on STV in Nepal, where the cow is sacred and ownership symbolises wealth, strength and abundance. In the countryside virtually every household has a cowshed. Martin meets Shubaka Chowlagi, a farmer who supports his entire family with just eight cows.
As cows are sacred in Nepal, it is illegal to kill them and it is taboo to eat them which means most live long lives. Martin visits a shelter for elderly cows, where they are cared for in their final years.
Martin’s travels take him onto Ko Yao Noi in South East Asia. He meets Sarawut, a hard working pigtail macaque monkey, one of the biggest and most agile members of the monkey family. Because they live in thick dense forests they are spectacular climbers, which makes Sarawut the ideal candidate for the job of scaling the 100 foot trees to pick coconuts.
Martin also goes night fishing in the Nagara River in Japan where cormorant fishermen have worked for more than 1300 years. He meets Tetsuji Yamashita, one of only six imperial fishermen in the world.
On Martin’s farm in Dorset he raises lamb and beef, which is sold by Frampton’s the local butcher’s shop in Bridport. An animal lover, and meat eater, Martin says his animals have been raised in a controlled environment like generations of domesticated animals before them and when the time comes they are killed as humanely as possible.
He said: "They’re beef cattle and in due course the boys will be sent for slaughter. But that doesn’t mean that I show them any less love."
Killing animals bred for the table is one thing, but killing wild animals for the pot stirs up very different emotions for Martin as he meets one of the surviving members of the ancient Matagi tribe of northern Japan. The Matagi hunted and killed the Asian black bear partly for their own safety, but also as a source of food. Takashi Yoshikawa has hunted more than 150 bears in his life - 70 of which he killed single-handed. Martin is disturbed to see two bears Takashi keeps in a cage in his backyard.
Martin travels onto the Himilayas looking for elephants, and to learn more about the mahout profession, which is 4000 years old and still passed on from father to son.
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Martin Clunes discusses his new 3-part series, Arthur & George.