When nature calls: ‘My hubby chose Attenborough over our son’s ...


When nature calls: ‘My hubby chose Attenborough over our son’s birth’

Cameraman and his wife tell what happens when they get a call for a faraway shoot, and the reality for those left behind

Joe Shute

Mating is a lonely game in the world of emperor penguins. After laying her egg, the female passes it to the male and waddles off to sea. While she hunts, he waits, with the egg incubating deep within his fat folds for months on end until the baby hatches.

When wildlife cameraman Lindsay McCrae discovered that his new wife, Becky, was pregnant with their first child, they chose to do things rather differently. He left her at home with the proverbial egg and flew off to Antarctica to spend a year filming the emperor penguins. After watching the birth on a laptop screen in a research station on the ice, it was seven more months before he returned home to meet his son, Walter, for the first time.

Professionally speaking, his decision was vindicated. He won a Bafta for his film, which appeared in the 2018 Attenborough series, Dynasties, and was watched by eight million people – many of whom praised him for breaking the golden rule of wildlife film-making by stepping in to save several penguins and their chicks from freezing to death in a storm-ravaged ravine – and has just been published by Hodder as a gorgeously illustrated memoir, My Penguin Year...

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