Movie Reviews

10 Interesting Facts You Need To Know About Wild At Heart (TV Show)

Wild At Heart Feature Image

Wild at Heart is a British television drama that first captured the imaginations of viewers in 2006. Set against the sprawling backdrop of the South African wilderness, the series chronicles the life of Danny Trevanion, a veterinarian from Bristol who embarks on a journey to establish a game reserve. Alongside his new wife, Sarah, his children, and stepchildren, Danny faces the immense challenges and adventures that come with conserving wildlife and running an animal hospital in the rugged terrain. The show blends the allure of exotic animals with the dramas of family life.

Throughout its run, Wild at Heart not only entertained audiences with its engaging plotlines but also raised awareness about wildlife conservation. Filming on location at the Glen Afric Country Lodge, the series offered an authentic glimpse into the challenges of conservation work, featuring a diverse array of animals that were integral to the story. Wild at Heart’s commitment to realism and education about wildlife issues won it acclaim, while behind the scenes, the cast and crew engaged in outreach and community support, reflecting the show’s themes of care and responsibility towards the environment.

Wild at Heart boasted a cast brimming with notable British talent, making it a treasure trove for fans of UK television. Among them was Amanda Holden, a familiar face in British entertainment. Initially known for her acting, Holden took on the role of Sarah Trevanion until the character met a dramatic end in series 3. She has since become a staple on British television, especially known for her role as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent.

Also featured was Lucy-Jo Hudson as Rosie Trevanion. Hudson was a mainstay through the first four series and made a return for the show’s finale. Prior to and following her time on Wild at Heart, she was celebrated for her role in Coronation Street, one of Britain’s longest-running and most beloved soap operas. Her transition from the gritty streets of Weatherfield to the wild landscapes of Africa showcased her versatile acting prowess.

The authenticity of the setting in Wild at Heart significantly enhances its storytelling, drawing viewers deeply into its world. This immersion was largely achieved by filming at an actual animal sanctuary, the Glen Afric Country Lodge. Nestled in the heart of a vibrant wildlife ecosystem, this location is home to a wide array of animals including elephants, lions, and hippos, providing a genuine backdrop that added an extra layer of realism to the show.

The choice of Glen Afric Country Lodge was not just for its scenic beauty and diverse wildlife but also for the natural interactions it allowed between the cast and the animals, lending an authentic touch to the series. Producer Ann Harrison-Baxter noted the efforts to integrate the set seamlessly into the environment, stating (via British Drama), It was all created from scratch and aged to look like it had been there for more than a century!This careful crafting ensured that the sanctuary not only served as a backdrop but also as a living, breathing character in the series.

Achieving international acclaim often leads to new versions of a show tailored for different audiences, and Wild at Heart was no exception. Its unique premise captured the attention of American producers, giving rise to the remake titled Life Is Wild. This adaptation debuted on The CW network in 2007, beginning with a pilot that was a reimagined version of the original Wild at Heart pilot episode.

Life Is Wild sought to recreate the charm of its predecessor but introduced a completely new cast of characters, adapting the story to appeal to an American audience. Despite the fresh setting and the potential for engaging a broader viewer base, the series struggled to find its footing. It faced challenges in building a substantial audience, resulting in its cancellation after just one season due to low ratings. This brief run highlights the unpredictable nature of television productions and the difficulties of replicating success across different cultural landscapes.

Wild at Heart not only captivated audiences with its compelling storytelling and breathtaking wildlife but also offered them a rare glimpse behind the scenes. In celebration of the series finale, a special documentary aired the following day, providing fans with a memorable farewell to the beloved show. Narrated by Stephen Tompkinson, who played the lead role of Danny Trevanion, the documentary offered a unique tour of the series’ animal stars, shedding light on their roles and the intricacies of working with such diverse wildlife.

The documentary delved into the techniques used to execute animal stunts and the realities of animal acting, featuring insights that were both educational and fascinating. It also treated viewers to never-before-seen footage, adding layers of depth to the characters and stories they had followed for years. This behind-the-scenes look was a hit, attracting 3.2 million viewers who tuned in to say goodbye to the series and gain insight into its magical creation.

The production of Wild at Heart experienced profound moments of sorrow that mirrored the drama unfolding on screen. In 2010, a heartrending incident occurred when the cast and crew returned to the filming location only to discover that Hamley, a beloved giraffe who had become a fixture on the show, had tragically been killed by lightning. Stephen Tompkinson, who portrayed Danny Trevanion, expressed the depth of this loss, comparing it to losing a human cast member, highlighting the strong bonds formed with the animal actors.

Adding to the series’ off-screen tragedies, Deon Stewardson, known for his role as Anders “Dup” Duplessis, died by suicide in 2017 at the age of 66. His death was a significant loss for the Wild at Heart community and his fans. Stewardson’s portrayal of Dup had endeared him to viewers, making his untimely departure a painful echo of the earlier loss of Hamley, marking a somber chapter in the show’s history.

The culmination of Wild at Heart was as dramatic and stirring as the series itself, delivering a finale that lived up to the high expectations of its audience and creators. The final episode was a whirlwind of emotion and action, centering around the chaos of an impending wedding while intertwining a critical conservation mission. Danny Trevanion found himself on an urgent journey to Zimbabwe to rescue endangered cheetahs. Tompkinson highlighted the intensity of the finale, noting (via The Mirror), “There are some ridiculous aerial stunts involved.”

As the series wrapped up, the emotional impact on the cast was palpable. Tompkinson, deeply connected to his role and the show, expressed a poignant sense of loss: “I don’t know what I’m going to do without Wild at Heart.” This sentiment underscored the deep bonds formed over the years of filming, making the series finale not just a narrative conclusion but also a heartfelt farewell to a beloved project.

Wild at Heart enjoyed a successful stint on television with seven series and a finale special, captivating an average of 7.5 million viewers per episode throughout its tenure. Despite these strong ratings, the show faced an untimely conclusion. The decision to end Wild at Heart was influenced by the financial strains imposed by the simultaneous production of ITV’s Titanic mini-series. Both shows were notable for their high production costs, but it was Wild at Heart that ultimately felt the budgetary axe.

The cancellation came as a blow to the cast and crew, as well as the dedicated fanbase. A source from the show expressed deep disappointment, remarking (via The Mirror), We’re all gutted that it has come to this. There are shows that would kill for 7.5 million viewers.” This sentiment highlighted the frustration felt by those involved, as they perceived the decision as a financial strategy by ITV to offset costs elsewhere, particularly due to the expensive Titanic project, marking a sorrowful end to a beloved series.

Wild at Heart was not only a series about animal conservation but also an endeavor that extended its mission beyond the screen into real-life conservation and community support. The commitment of the cast and crew to the values portrayed in the series was evident in their actions in the local community where filming took place. Stephen Tompkinson revealed that they went beyond their roles as actors and technicians by constructing a community center to serve the local population. Additionally, they contributed financially towards essential infrastructure, such as funding water tanks to ensure access to clean water for the community.

The outreach efforts also permeated the creative aspects of the show. The soundtrack of Wild at Heart, composed by Tristin Norwell and Nick Green, was another channel through which the show contributed to charitable causes. All profits from the sale of the soundtrack were donated to Water Aid, supporting global efforts to provide clean water and sanitation. This dual approach of on-screen storytelling and off-screen activism highlighted the series’ deep dedication to making a positive impact, both environmentally and socially.

While Alice Trevanion, portrayed by Dawn Steele in Wild at Heart, embodies resilience and toughness as a veterinarian facing the daily challenges of the African wilderness, the actress behind the character reveals a contrasting vulnerability. Known on-screen for her robust demeanor, Steele’s off-screen life tells a story of personal struggles and emotional depth. Following the birth of her first child, Steele shared her experiences with the emotional and physical demands that came with new motherhood (via The Mirror), likened by her to “Chinese water torture.”

This vivid metaphor captures the relentless, drip-by-drip pressure she felt while balancing the demanding tasks of filming a popular television series and navigating the joys and challenges of raising a child. Her candid disclosure of these difficulties sheds light on the complex realities faced by working mothers, especially those in the demanding world of television. Steele’s openness about her struggles highlights the stark contrast between her real-life experiences and her character’s stoic facade.