2017 at Maramedia


2017 at Maramedia

2017 has been a fast and exhilarating journey for Maramedia. Kick starting the year working with David Attenborough for the voiceover of ‘Hotel Armadillo’ makes you question how you can seriously continue the year on the up, considering you started at the top! 

We did however manage to maintain this momentum and it set us on the path of ‘Gudrun The Viking Princess’, a unique new format combining drama and factual entertainment for young children.  The series of 20 x 5mins episodes for CBeebies mixes wildlife and landscapes, Viking history and a rich family of characters. Beautifully filmed in stunning Scottish surroundings, this enchanting series was commissioned by Kay Benbow for CBeebies and soon snowballed the team into a busy period of production.

Meanwhile our one-off documentary on the Menopause authored by Kirsty Wark was also transmitting to great acclaim both on BBC2 Scotland and BBC1 network. The show also went on to gain Maramedia’s first ever Scottish BAFTA nomination. In fact, it was a good year overall for nominations with an Emmy nod for Ewan McGregor’s Highlands narration and 2 further nominations at Jackson Hole. No wins alas, but you can’t really complain!


Hotel Armadillo our co-comission with BBC Natural World and PBS Nature in America aired in the spring to great reviews and ratings. This was a real passion project for us that celebrated the important conservation work by RZSS Giant Armadillo Scientist Arnaud Debiez and his dedicated team. The footage also showed the first ever broadcast footage of a baby Giant Armadillo. David Attenborough narrated the show in his true eloquent and enthusiastic style and also provided us with some great social media shorts about his own searches for this elusive animal!

Considering that our debut 4K commission WILD WAY OF THE VIKINGS was also up and running, we were very much into a Viking Themed Summer. For the VIKING film, which is a commission for PBS, BBC Scotland, ORF, France 5 and Nat Geo (it’s going to have the longest credit line ever!) we were soon planning trips to Norway, Iceland and Shetland, which was the main focus for our first season of filming. Closer to home our exciting blue chip special on the wildlife of Shetland for BBC Scotland was also underway with teams covering the stunning beauty of this archipelago. Both shows deliver later in 2018.


Fergus, was our main team member on the ground in Shetland, working throughout the duration of the summer, on the islands, and gives us an insight into what is was like filming on the most northerly parts of the British Isles.

Fergus Gill: Cameraman  

My first week or so was spent scouting out filming locations stretching from Unst in the far North to Fair Isle in the South. The scenery was stunning and I had a great time meeting the locals, all filled to the brim with knowledge and great humour. Brydon Thomason and Richard Shucksmith were so helpful throughout the summer and they didn’t even seem to get fed up of us either, quite the achievement! I found all too quickly the local dialect and phrases filter their way into your own vocabulary. Whilst I was up there for 3 months I wasn’t alone, as a team we had people coming and going throughout summer months, with Raymond, Pete, Justin and Jackie all spending time 60° North. Justin definitely had the worst luck of anyone, only ever visiting when the weather was at its worst, I’m not sure he believed me when I said it was sunny before he arrived.

 As a group of islands Shetland was much larger than I anticipated, mainland is a big old island, and the archipelago itself has over 1000 miles of spectacular coastline. Every week I spent there I was discovering somewhere new. It’s that kind of place, where every corner seems to hide another dramatic stretch of coast. I remember standing high above the cliffs at Hermaness, home to tens of thousands of gannets, thinking I can’t imagine there’s a more spectacular view anywhere in the UK.


Throughout the summer months, we were incredibly lucky to see so many fantastic animals from otters, gannets, divers, terns and phalaropes to even the occasional pod of orca. Just getting to see so many exciting species was a privilege, getting to film them was a pretty good bonus! We were blessed with great weather, the only real exception being our week long camp on Mousa, characterised by gale force winds and pouring rain. But then it might create a false impression if there was only ever blue skies!

When I got back home it took me a few days to get used to not travelling by boat, a novelty that became the norm and good fun too. It might have taken me longer than I’d have liked to visit Shetland for the first time, but it certainly won’t take as long for me to go back.    

Alongside Fergus in Shetland for the summer, and various filming trips to the island by Raymond Besant, Justin Purefoy, Jackie Savery and Pete Barden, we also had major filming trips for our ambitious landmark project, WILD WAY OF THE VIKINGS taking place. Cameramen Neil Anderson and Steven McGee-Callender spent over 2 weeks filming in Iceland for the project, producing some exceptional imagery from this stunning location and Norwegian cameraman Asgeir Helgestad managed to get some superb walrus images from a trip to Svalbard.

Back in Glasgow, a whirlwind of a summer began for the team at Maramedia, (not just because of the Scottish weather!) but with the addition of former head of BBC Scotland children’s production – Simon Parsons, to help with the launch of the new ‘Marakids’ brand and the filming for Cbeebies, ‘Gudrun the Viking Princess’ series one.


Our small team travelled around parts of Scotland and Ireland filming both for Viking Princess and Wild Way of the Vikings. We worked with our child cast and Viking cast throughout the summer in various magical locations!

The saying goes “never to work with children or animals” and there we were embarking on an adventure that covered, working with children, animals (trained and wild) and then we threw in some Vikings and their boats to that mix for good measure! Safe to say this greatly paid off for us with series one of ‘Gudrun the Viking Princess’ to be released Christmas 2017!  We were thrilled that David Tennant agreed to narrate this new series  and gives such a brilliant tone to the series.


The team had a fantastic time working with all our cast, animals, locations and everyone involved in the making of series one. To see a production come full circle, from start to finish, really is a rewarding experience!

We were also able to cut together the terrific footage from Norway, Iceland and Ireland into a new taster for WILD WAY OF THE VIKINGS which Nigel was able to present to our partners at the Jackson Hole festival in October.  Jackie was also able to represent Scottish production at the World Congress of Science in San Francisco making new relationships with broadcasters and broadening our slate internationally.


We were thrilled to receive funding from both Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise and of course our very significant production funding from the EU Media Fund.

It has been a year of partnerships and we are very grateful to all the broadcasters, partners, charities, locations, individuals and animals we have worked with this year we look forward to continuing these partnerships and friendships in 2018.

We end the year with our ‘Shetland’ programme coming together in the offline edit, 2018, ‘Wild way of the Vikings’ in its filming stages, both due for release late 2018. A thrilling new potential commission currently under wraps for a new partner Broadcaster, and of course ‘Gudrun the Viking Princess’, series one  - delivered as a box set on BBC iPlayer on Christmas Day 25th December 2017 and broadcast on CBeebies January 15th 2018 at 17:35, 2 episodes daily.

To keep up to date on our projects filming and plans follow us on social channels below

Cheers from us all at Maramedia!



Hotel Armadillo


Hotel Armadillo

Making Hotel Armadillo #3

Narration Recording with David Attenborough

We were thrilled that Sir David Attenborough was keen to narrate Hotel Armadillo. The Giant Armadillo was a species he had never filmed in this detail and he was keen to see the film and what we had captured.

He wrote back to us saying..

“Congratulations on your success with the Giant Armadillo – something which as you know eluded me when I tried to do something about it half a century ago.”


At the end of the recording Attenborough met Arnaud the scientist – it was a lovely moment!


Hotel Armadillo


Hotel Armadillo

Making Hotel Armadillo #2

In the field…. By Producer / cameraman Justin Purefoy


Giant Armadillo’s are one of the most illusive creatures on earth, with scientist Arnaud Desbiez referring to them as a ghost species.

Deep in the remote wilderness these nocturnal animals spend up to three quarters of their lives underground, which makes filming them an almost impossible mission.

But the crew here at Maramedia were up to the task teaming up with Giant Armadillo specialist, Arnaud Desbiez. Working together we all had one goal, to be the first to film these incredible creatures and finally uncover their secrets.

It was a usual day in the office when I got a phone call that really changed everything. It was Arnaud and he announced that the Giant Armadillo, Isabelle, had had a baby.

We knew how rare it was for a giant armadillo to have a baby and no one in history has ever filmed the interaction of the mother and baby together in the wild. I knew exactly what I had to do, I dropped everything and rushed straight to Brazil.

After three days of travelling we finally made it back to the Pantanal, where we had originally been filming the Giant Armadillos. The transmitter in Isabelle had stopped working meaning we had to search the bush and tracks for signs of her again, but we stayed determined.

We walked for ten long hours in blistering 40 degrees heat. We searched high and low desperate for any sign of Isabelle.

I can admit, I was starting to believe we would never find her. Then suddenly, just when I thought all hope was lost, Arnaud appears around a bush excitedly gesturing he’d found the baby burrow.

The relief overwhelmed me as I realised this was it, we finally had a golden opportunity to film this very rare unique moment that we could have only dreamed of.

I set 4 remote camera traps up around the burrow and 3 infrared lights which were powered by 2 car batteries. Then all we could do was wait.

Then it happened. After 5 long days Isabelle brought her baby out of the burrow and into the world.

But to Arnaud and his team 5 days was nothing compared to the 2 years they had been waiting for this beautiful moment.

As I look back this was definitely the most memorable part of the entire experience. The team effort had paid off, and for the first time ever we had on camera images of a mother and baby giant armadillo interacting under the tropical night.


Lindsay McCrae, wildlife cameraman on Hotel Armadillo shares his experiences…

I remember very vividly my first encounter with the giant. The sight of the creature could only be described as a scene from an early 1900s monster movie.

To properly tell you about the experience let me begin from the start.

Filming in the Pananal had been a dream of mine for a long time so when Maramedia asked me to help them with their Armadillo documentary it was an opportunity I couldn't ignore.

The incredible bird life, the prospect of close encounters and the magical light it has to offer had me very excited. I just kept thinking as long as we are lucky with the weather things should run smoothly….

After the first night of success our problems began. Our batteries were enormous yet only lasted a few days, rodents seem to enjoy biting through our expensive cables and the ants realised that using the kit to climb across was much quicker than negotiating branches!

We travelled to Brazil with 30 cases & quite an array of camera kit to cover almost every scenario in the aim of capturing footage of this elusive animal. We relied heavily on camera traps which soon became our number one option to capture intimate behavior of the armadillo.

But luckily with the Armadillo Projects radio tracking programme we were able to pin point exactly where a couple of individuals were.

I could then set up and operate a camera from close by as it got dark with the hopes of filming individuals leaving their burrow.

One advantage was that, despite being nocturnal and living underground, Giant Armadillos have pretty poor eyesight.

So rigging a couple of bright lights to be able to film in colour gave us an even better chance of capturing unique footage.

I'd done a couple of filming stints on previous nights but with no luck, but on one night I knew it was going to happen.

As soon as the sun set I could hear the Armadillo underground thumping & scratching at the earth.

That’s when I saw it.

Approaching the burrow entrance, its footsteps became louder. Getting my first shot I remember shaking struggling to believe my eyes.

The animal was so prehistoric it didn't look real. It had huge front claws, bizarre back legs & gnome like ears, but the one thing that’s surprised me most was its sheer size.

In comparison I think a small sheep would be about the same. After maybe only five or six minutes of testing the air it disappeared out of view to begin its night feeding. It was a remarkable experience and fantastic to capture on film.

 In the end the camera traps helped reveal the wealth of wildlife that would visit the armadillo burrows and even gave us our first images of a newly born armadillo baby, which is a broadcast first.


Fergus Gill , Camera Assistant on Hotel Armadillo

Getting to see a Giant Armadillo in the flesh is such an extraordinary privilege, as most people in the Pantanal have never had the chance to see one.

So when we got the chance to go try and film them for Maramedia’s new documentary it was an exciting task.

Towards the end of our first trip we went to check on one of our camera taps in dense woodland, as we approached the burrow we could see small feline paw prints in the sand, snaking their way through the trees, leading right to the burrow.

It was definitely the trail of an ocelot, they were so fresh, definitely from the last 24 hours. We excitedly went to check the trap hoping for a glimpse of this beautiful cat but found nothing, not one clip of anything, never mind the ocelot.

Exasperated we walked the length of our cable run, quickly finding the cause. As we’d seen at times with some of our other traps the rats had started nibbling the cables, and this time cutting through the wires causing the whole system to fail. But we didn’t give up.

The most exciting moment came in our final few days in the Pantanal. Justin and I were out checking footage from some of the camera traps -  after the familiar rat visitors something else appeared in shot – a female southern tamandua with her baby. We watched as the female carried her large infant and left it down one of the old burrows. We were silent as we worked quickly to change over the truck batteries for the lighting rig and left before we caused any disturbance. A few days earlier we’d gambled by placing a two cameras in the burrow, one facing into the chamber and one looking up the tunnel towards the entrance. At that time we could only hope they’d captured some magical never before seen moments of the mother and her infant underground. It was almost a month later that we finally saw incredible the results.

Another great part was when we caught footage of a Giant Armadillo, called Tracey, in person.

She was undoubtedly our superstar not only coming out of her burrow at a reasonable hour but doing so when Lindsay was there to film her in person.

We would never have been able to do that with the other animals, she just had such a distinctive character that was so tolerate of new sights, smells and sounds.