74. Gory

Tapehead no 74 

At 125,000 bleak, barren, acres, the Invercauld eastern Balmoral estate is the size of Los Angeles and – on a good day – and boasts the same amount of gore and gunshots.

Cutting Edge (amazingly) got to spend a season with the current Laird of the Manor (Capt .Alwyn Farquaharson) and his trusty band of gamekeepers (peasants) as they battle to make the estate pay and decipher each other’s impenetrable Scottish accents.

Two yeas ago, the Laird sold out to a board of trustees and the new broom has introduced charges of £250-a-day (plus the right to kill one stag) to go huntin’ and fisin’ for grouse and salmon.

“One minute the wind can be blowin’ in your face”, says canny head game-keeper, Peter Fraser, sounding uncannily like his impenetrably-accented namesake from Dad’s Army, “the next it can be blowin’ up your backside, which can make staling difficult.” 

(Or indeed, most things.)

A Bermudan businessman still succeeds in blowing away a ropey old stag, with Fraser (surprisingly) quoting Morrissey in his justification: “it was old and it would’ve died anyway.”

“I love shooting rabbits,” declares Fraser, referring to his frankly unhealthy habit of 40 bunnies a day, adding enigmatically: “especially when there’s some on the ground.”

The board of trustees also has some of the staff in their sights, stalking certain keepers towards unemployment.

One receives a piece of paper declaring: “this is a verbal warning,” (He’s the one who has minks’ tails in his lunchbox.)

“We’re moving into the 20th century as you can see,” chortles the Laird, as his men cut open another deer or stoat, adding hastily: “I mean, the, erm, 21st century of course.”

Happily, everyone involved walks straight into every one of Cutting Edge’s snares.

There’s less productive hunting in Equinox: Jaws On The Med, which looks at the possibility that Great White Sharks are, and have always been, indigenous to… Torremolinos. (Probably the best news Tapehead has heard all week.)

Self-proclaimed shark detective, Ian Ferguson, produces every witness in the subject’s history but rather runs his theories by failing to lay eyes on a single Great White himself, always turning up just after they’ve left.

Bob Peck narrates (laying it on with a Great Big Trowel) in doom-laden, paranoid tones that suggest we’re talking about a world-threatening conspiracy rather than a few fish, grinning fiendishly, and biting bits off a few Italians.

“Next…” Peck announces darkly. “We meet the man who became the first windsurfer in the world to be attacked by a Great White Shark.”

Every shark we see cut open seems, unpleasantly, to have a seal or turtle inside.

“One shark,” gasps Peck, “had eaten a juvenile dolphin”.

Serves it right for being so juvenile in the first place.

When it comes to real gore this week’s winner is the Nightmares Of Nature episode, Squirm.

“What’s the worst possible way to start your day ?” whispers a creepy voice, introducing a young woman driving to work with “a horrific-looking” huntsman spider crawling up her skirt.

Everything you would prefer not to see is here – in huge, hairy, close-ups: “fat-tailed” scorpions, tarantulas the size of dinner plates, Australian funnel-webs “that can kill a child in two hours…”

We meet a man (not a windsurfer) who was attacked “by 47, 000 killer bees.”

We see “killer caterpillars”, travelling in packs.

“Even six or seven days later, brushing against a killer caterpillar can cause massive internal bleeding.”

(Not good.)

Things really take a turn for the worse (as indeed Tapehead’s stomach did) when we see in close up, the cattle whose cuts become occupied by killer maggots form the Screw Worm Fly”, which we see laying their eggs in the in open wounds.

“In 24 hours, the eggs hatch and the maggots eat their way into the living flesh.”

The piece de resistance though is the “maggot factory” where they breed over 100 million maggots a week. (We can see most of them).

Floors and walls crawling (literally) with maggots, dripping with maggots, the maggot factory footage is, in a word unpalatable.

Frankly, it put Tapehead right off his porridge.


Equinox: 7pm-8pm, Sun, C4, 5949

Cutting Edge: 9pm-10pm, Mon, C4, 9963

Nightmares of Nature: 8pm-8.30pm Thurs BBC1