Tom Hugh-Jones, the man behind Planet Earth series, which has captivated the world, lived like a real-life Mowgli as a child.
Tom was merely five years old when his anthropologists parents left their lustrous careers as lecturers at Cambridge University and decided to uproot their family to spend a year in the dense Amazon forests to study Barasana tribe.
Recalling the memories of making friends with the primitive tribe and wearing G-strings to cover his modesty, Tom said he was initially shocked to see the way of life in the forest.
The 42-year old said:
I remember that on my first day in the jungle, travelling by canoe upriver to a tribal settlement, the locals pulled out their blowpipes and began firing darts at monkeys in the trees along the riverbank. I was so shocked I began to scream to frighten the monkeys away and save their lives.
But soon he adjusted to the local way of life and started hunting for monkeys, parrots, toucans, wild pigs and ants for meals. By the end of it he remembers possessing his own mini-blowpipe and bow and arrow.
He adapted to sleeping in hammocks and running around the jungle like a ‘feral’.
The family had immersed themselves into tribal life where they hunted for their meals. But Tom also developed an affinity towards animals which inspired him to make the wonderful Planet Earth series in 2006.
He even got a pet for himself – a pet marmoset monkey called Issi who would live on his head.
He admits to climbing onto house walls after taking off much of his clothes, once the family moved back to England.
Not surprisingly, his stint in the Amazonian forest along with his love for David Attenborough’s documentaries led to the creation of the most captivating Planet Earth series.
While filming Planet Earth II, Tom says he again tapped into his childhood experiences and experienced familiar smells and sights.
When you first go into the jungle it can seem quite intimidating, but after a while, apart from the odd mosquito or leech, you realise it’s not this hideously hostile environment that it’s made out to be.
It’s actually a beautiful place. You have to take pleasure in the detail and the beauty of little things, and you have to open your eyes to it.
Perhaps Tom’s own experience with the wild has translated into the magnificent magic that the series has played on the audiences.