Being a director on OShea is one of the
best jobs in television. You get to go to some of the worlds
most beautiful places, like New Caledonia, Krakatau, and India.
You come across some beautiful and amazing creatures, like paradise
tree snakes, orb weaving spiders, and giant geckos. And best of
all you get to meet wonderful people, like Bob Pullen in Guam, Simon
Cook in Indonesia and Mohammed Anees in India, to name just three.
However, it is not without its stresses and strains, and the making
of The Cobras Revenge was no exception
The Spectacled or Common Indian cobra
(Naja naja) is widespread throughout South Asia. It is responsible
for thousands of fatal snakebites.
Getting permission to film reptiles in India
was a long, tortuous and complicated business. In addition to that
I arrived in the country on September 11th, and following the events
of that day there were chances of the region being sufficiently
destabilised for filming to have been called off. Thankfully that
didnt happen, but crucial internal flights were cancelled
and airport security was intense and time consuming. The worst moments
were when half our filming equipment was removed from the hold just
before take off from Bangalore, Swiss Air, who were flying our American
expert over from New York, stopping all flights, and Delhi officials
confiscating my lucky tennis ball from my hand baggage.
Add to all that the perennial OShea problem about whether
wed actually find the snake at the heart of our programme,
the rare and elusive king cobra, and you have a very stressed and
worried TV director on your hands.
However as filming progressed it slowly dawned on me that we were
getting some excellent material. Mark OShea was on sparkling
form, and the production team of cameraman Richard Edwards, sound
recordist Terry Meadowcroft, and Associate producer Matthew Catling,
were working their socks off to ensure the pictures, sound and content
were top quality.
In Bangalore we achieved our objective of finding many snakes, including
several wonderful spectacled cobras. In the swamps of Bhitarkanika
we got some marvellous footage of monitor lizards, chameleons and
crocodiles, and in the forests of the Western Ghats we miraculously
captured a magnificent king cobra as it feasted on a ratsnake.
Luck was certainly on our side in terms of the reptiles we found,
the people we filmed, and the wide ranging story elements we were
able to cover, including a child playing with a cobra in a snake
charming village, an experiment to investigate whether snakes can
hear, and a moving king cobra funeral.
Some people say No Pain No Gain, and there are certainly
elements of this shoot I would prefer not to relive; pulling leeches
off my stomach, getting an incredibly painful skin rash from blood
sucking insects in my bed, and having diarrhoea for six weeks for
example, but at the end of the day I gained so much from my time
in India in terms of life experience, friendships, and happy memories,
that I would happily go through it all again. I think
OShea examines a large king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) in
the snake village of Patia, Orissa State.
The King cobra often has an inverted chevron pattern on the back
of its neck and always possesses a pair of enlarged occipital scales
on the back of the head the only snake to do so.