David Attenborough, esteemed wildlife commentator and documentary filmmaker, has given his own inimitable twist to Sochi sports coverage. His commentary on the somewhat curious rituals of the curling community has proved a hilarious online hit.
For sixty years, Sir David Attenborough has been informing and entertaining worldwide audiences on the quirks and habits of the animal kingdom. Now he has found another unusual species to turn his attentions to: those who choose to slide a large granite stone along a block of ice for sport.
Persuaded by the BBC’s Radio One to participate in the parody, Sir David showed himself to be a willing sport. With his customary soporific and soothing tone of voice, he describes the details of the action taking place. His commentary makes a highly amusing illustration of the play-off between Team USA and Team GB at yeseterday’s winter Olympics.
As the women bend to hurl their stones, Sir David says they are expressing their primal urges. This is to mark their territory by thrusting their nuts along a frozen river. The aim of the odd ritual, he goes on to explain, in pseudo-scientific language is to “land your walnut in the middle of the nest.”
As for the exuberant brushing which precedes the cast-off, elsewhere described as “housework on ice,” the veteran broadcaster offers an insight. “The frisking is frantic and often futile” he admits, but “it is playful.” Above all, he opines, his voice full of its customary wonder at the ways of the world, it is what makes the game so magical.
Sir David Attenborough is now 87, but he was more than happy to indulge his youthful glee at the spectacle and deliver some hilarious curling commentary. “In all my years of exploration” he said in his hushed voice, “these are the creatures I find most curious.” In a pastiche of the style he brought to the most extreme edges of the earth, he said he was reporting from “deepest Russia” using the most “state of the art cameras.
He re-named the skip of the curling team as the “alpha female” and joked that she tapped her broom so vigorously to “detect for insects.” This curling tradition, according to Attenborough, is a display of her dominance over the herd. Calling the game “nature at its most vulnerable” he finds it a consoling sight. “Look how happy it makes them” he coos, as if watching a mother orangutan grooming her baby. The film then cuts to rather woebegone faces as a “nut” has maybe not landed where they hoped. This is definitely natural history with a distinctive sporting twist.
Maybe it was the boost from this unlikely new-found fan that led Team GB to go on to win a bronze today, as the women’s curlers beat Switzerland 6-5, led by their “alpha female” skip Eve Muirhead. The men’s team are also guaranteed a minimum of silver on Friday, making this Britain’s best winter games for medals since Chamonix in 1924. Canada’s Jennifer Jones now takes her team into the finals for the curling gold against Sweden.
Curling certainly is a niche sport, but it has attracted a lot of interest during these games. The brushing and the shouting are features that viewers commonly find quite perplexing. Curlers have all sorts of unusual attributes, such as the wearing of odd shoes, one to push off with and one to glide along. It is indeed noteworthy that Sir David Attenborough has come along to shed some light on these practices and to give such a hilarious commentary on the real anthropological antics behind curling.
By Kate Henderson