Over 3.4 million people tuned into Penguin Island when it premiered on BBC1 on July 14. BBC Director General Mark Thompson even put the program on his own BBC Showcase site.
Here’s what the Daily Telegraph had to say..
Penguin Island (BBC One) came as a welcome palate cleanser, the kind of thing that gives you a caramelly glow before you’ve even watched it. It was a series about a penguin sanctuary on Phillip Island, a few miles off the south coast of Australia, and from the moment Rolf Harris piped up on the voice-over as if Animal Hospital had never ended, you knew you were in for a brazen anthropomorphic schmaltzfest.
Like the meerkats before them – now worldwide stars – the little pingus were set up in a sort of soap narrative: gutsy commoners navigating the choppy waters of love, sex, family and death. Bluey was coupled up with Sheila, but Sheila had gone fishing and not returned. Would Bluey be able to protect their eggs from the designs of lurking Mr Fox and sneaky Mr Snake? Or how about this week’s beaky love triangle: which of Spike the dimwit and Rocky the loner would get the girl? They ended up coming to blows after she put out with both of them. It was like EastEnders, basically, but with much cuter animals than Phil Mitchell.
It is a simple fact that anyone who can watch penguins and their chicks waddling about like Manuel from Fawlty Towers and not go just a little bit mushy, is probably dead. Penguin Island was about as cutting edge as a glob of putty, but, to borrow a phrase, a man who is tired of nature documentaries about penguins is tired of life.
– Benji Wilson