TV Cream

Films: T is for...

Tarka the Otter

‘Does snuff exist?’ ponders Channel Four, passim. Well, yes it does, it’s here, and it’s rated A. Screenwriter Gerald Durrell and director David Cobham did the more squeamish kids few favours in their adaptation of Henry Williamson’s treasured nature story with multiple, unflinchingly graphic scenes of violent otter mortality, climaxing with the eponymous tyke’s grisly fight to the death with the hounds of John ‘K9’ Leeson’s hunt party. Despite the omnipresence of the fur-lined gore, this harrowing film was screened in schools up and down the land. Peter Ustinov’s avuncular narration did little to ease the childhood terror brought on by so much shredded otter offal so closely photographed. The subsequent ‘let’s have a talk about what we’ve just seen’ topic work turned into a mass trauma therapy session for more than a few fragile souls.

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