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Our planet is home to millions of different animals.

The big and the


powerful capture our attention... but there is another story to tell.
Beneath our feet are hidden almost magical worlds...teeming with
extraordinary little creatures. The world looks very different to them. A
falling acorn becomes a meteor...a tiny trickle, a tsunami....and every
enemy is a giant. Now, using the latest technology, we can recreate the
world from their perspective. These are tales of life from the African
plains... and Americas !onoran "esert...in the #idden $ingdoms.
%O&!' #O()!
'ast Africa... and the largest animals that walk the 'arth. But look
closely beneath their feet and you will see a network of tiny
trails...and the tiny creature that constructed them. !hes an elephant
shrew, known by her African name *sengi*. Trails like this are the secret
to a sengis survival. Theyre race tracks that allow them to sprint
through this miniature +ungle. To escape their enemies and chase down
food, all they really need...is speed. ,or their si-e, a sengi is twice
as fast as a cheetah. .ust off trail is her youngster. !engi babies spend
their first few days in hiding, waiting for their mothers fleeting
visits. The mothers high/speed lifestyle re0uires even more fuel now
that there are two mouths to feed. !hes forced to forage in the far
corners of her territory. 1enerations of termites built this mountain
fortress... but now its the home of a hunter.
2OA23N1
A monitor li-ard can taste a scent trail. But the forked tongue does
more. 3ts shape means it tastes in stereo...so it not only knows that
prey passed by, but in which direction it was headed.
!#' !4&'A$!
A mothers instinct is to lure away the danger. !engi know their trails
so well, they can normally outrun an enemy. But the world above is beyond
their control. (ith the trail suddenly blocked, theres no escaping the
predator.
!#' !4&'A$!
(ith her mother gone, how will the youngster learn the secrets of sengi
life5 Nearly 67,777 miles away, on the other side of the world, a
different hidden kingdom...in Americas !onoran "esert. )ong before the
first human settlers, there were already families struggling to make this
wilderness home...and theyre still here. A family of grasshopper mice.
The father has long gone. This mother is raising four hungry mouths
alone. 87 days after they arrived kicking and s0ueaking into the world,
theyre furred and feisty. Theyre not 0uite ready to make it on their
own, except for one. An hour older and bolder than his brothers, he
already has the urge to explore the world beyond his birthplace.
"3!TANT #O()3N1
'very night, his mother goes out to find food. And she sees things out
there that could scare a young mouse to death. There are more venomous
creatures here than anywhere in the &!A.
T#&N"'29)A:
No place for the timid. But shes not your average mouse. #er kind has
never known a time without this ancient adversary. 3ts why old/timers
would call her by an earlier name....scorpion mouse. The sting of a
scorpion can cause death in humans. But a grasshopper mouse has almost
superpowers. Their reactions are faster than a scorpion strike...their
bodies immune to the venom. They specialise in killing deadly prey.
%O&!' #O()!
To defend their territory, they stake a claim with a warning howl.
#31#:3T9#'" #O()3N1
3f we were shrunk to mouse si-e, it would sound more like a wolf. The
young grasshopper mouse knows nothing of the dangers outside his door.
But barely three weeks old, growing curiosity means hes about to face
them. The desert will soon have him running for his life. 3n Africa, the
orphaned sengi must learn to fend for herself. (ithout a mother to guide
her, she has no sense of who is friend or foe. 9uriosity gives way to
hunger. ,or the first time, shes driven onto the trails her mother left.
A young sengi must eat every few hours. 9atching enough food is a
challenge. 3ts no good trying to fight through thick grass. Obstacles
+ust slow you down. The penny drops. The trail is the key to finding food
fast. !o, to maximise speed, a spot of spring/cleaning is in order. The
smaller the mammal, the higher its metabolism. !o, in the hidden kingdom,
theres a constant race to fuel your lifestyle. 3ts why sengis are a
little...fussy. They can spend half their waking hours tidying their
home. The sengi needs to clear away everything that gets between it...and
its food. But no matter how hard you work, some problems are +ust too big
to deal with...even for the most house/proud sengi.
2&%B)3N1
!#2'( !4&'A$!
')':#ANT 2&%B)'!
')':#ANT T2&%:'T!
Things seemed to be going so well. )uckily, in the hidden kingdom, help
is at hand. "ung beetles can sniff the whiff of dung half a mile away.
(ithin minutes, thousands helicopter in. (ithout these miniature marvels,
the savanna would be drowning in dung. !errations on their head saw it
up...and legs like spades shape the dung into perfect balls. %ost +ust
take enough to eat. Others are out to attract female company. And for
that, the bigger the balls, the better. !he climbs on board for the ride.
)ater, shell lay her eggs inside...as soon as the male finds them a
secluded spot where they can start a family. :ound for pound, a dung
beetle is stronger than an elephant. !adly, this is no consolation when
their worlds collide. !till, its not all bad. At least the trail is
clear. Alas, bigger problems are brewing on the hori-on.
T#&N"'29)A:
3n the !onoran "esert, the remaining youngsters wait patiently in the
burrow for their mother.
#31#/:3T9#'" #O()3N1
Theyre getting a taste of the world outside. !o far, their mother has
protected them from its dangers. But theres nothing she can do for her
eldest. #e faces his first night in the desert alone. The heat absorbed
by this desert road lures insects at night. 3ts the perfect place for a
hungry mouse to find food, and for others to set up an ambush. There are
more rattlesnakes here than anywhere else on 'arth. A grasshopper mouse
tiptoes through a living minefield. 1rasshopper mice face deadly locals
every night. &sually a dry riverbed would be a place of safety. But
tonight a powerful force threatens...one so rare, a mouse could go its
whole life without seeing it. This refuge will soon become a trap. There
are places in this desert that dont see a drop of rain for 6,777 days.
;et when it does arrive, a years worth can fall in a single night. ,or
one so small, wet fur can lead to a fatal chill. A mouse shakes up to <7
times a second, generating forces of =71. 3t may have rained, but months
of bla-ing sun has baked Ari-onas earth as hard as stone. The water
cant soak away. 3nstead, it gathers momentum as it races downhill. To
us, its a tiny stream. To a mouse, its a 68/inch high tsunami.
%O&!' !4&'A$!
Back in Africa, the grassland is tinder/dry. ,or now, life in the #idden
$ingdom appears tran0uil. (hen it comes to perseverance, a young sengi
could learn a lot from Africas hard/working waste disposal expert. "ung
beetles can push the e0uivalent of a three/tonne truck. 3t provides all
the food this males family will ever need. The trouble with keeping your
head down, though, is that you cant always see where youre going. "ung
beetles dont give up. 'ven when theyve lost the ball, they get right
back on, heading off in the same direction, no matter what is in their
way. The secret to super strength is diminutive si-e. !mall animals weigh
less, so waste less muscle power moving their bodies. 2elative to body
weight, the smaller the animal, the stronger it becomes. They are
unstoppable. Almost. (ildebeest stampede for a reason. "own here, youre
the last to see trouble ahead. A sengis trails are its greatest strength
and its Achilles heel. Theyre so dependent on them, theyre effectively
a prisoner. 'very year, lightning sets the bone/dry savanna alight. ,ew
small creatures can escape the inferno. (hen fire threatens, she can
outrun the flames...but its into the unknown, leaving the very trails
that kept her alive. #igh noon in the (ild (est. !o hot, the last drop of
water is long gone. The highest temperatures are down at mouse level,
where it can reach a blistering >7 degrees centigrade. 3ts a side of the
sun/scorched desert a nocturnal mouse should never see. 'xcept for those
washed up, exhausted, and swept very far from home. 3n daytime, the
desert is a real/life .urassic :ark, where heat brings the li-ards to
life. This realm of reptiles is ruled from the air.
B32"! 92;
#arris hawks. *'yes like a hawk* is no empty phrase. Their vision is
thought to be eight times as good as ours. 3ts hard to outwit this
intelligent team. Theyre the worlds only pack/hunting raptors. (hile
one attempts to flush the prey, others prepare an ambush. #awks tend to
eat animals alive, so have giant talons to hold down struggling prey.
)ong, feather/free legs are ideal for extracting mice from those hard/to/
reach places. (hen one victim is out of reach, it pays to be open to
other opportunities. A -ebra/tailed li-ard is the fastest in the (est.
But a collared li-ard will chase anything that moves. Both accelerate so
fast they cant help but *pull a wheelie*. At times, like tiny T/rex,
theyre on two legs. (hen danger threatens, only one has this trick up
its sleeve. (ith a shimmy beneath the sand, the -ebra/tail is saved. A
collareds colours make it an easier target.
B32" 923'!
The daytime is not safe for a grasshopper mouse.
B32" 923'!
,or now, best to wait till darkness falls. Africa. 3ts hard to see a
fire as anything but disaster. But for the savanna, its as natural as
the rising sun. As the smoke clears, its already recovering. ,or the
survivors, it brings fresh hope for the future. The dry grass burns so
swiftly that a sengi trail can survive almost unscathed. 3ts nothing
that an enthusiastic spring/clean cant solve. Around the trail, the
grassland doesnt so much recover as burst back into life. The flames
have swept away the old, allowing fertile ash to fuel the growth of fresh
young grass. 3n a few short days, the savanna is transformed. And the
sengis world is once again restored. !hes home. And as long as she
looks after the trails, they will keep her alive. !undown in the !onoran.
This is the time when grasshopper mice were born to venture out. Their
territories can be over <77 metres wide...and marked with a distinctive
scent. (hen close enough, a lost mouse can follow its nose, all the way
home. 3ts true to say that the things we want in life are not always the
things we need. !o it is that there comes a time when every youngster
faces a difficult choice. An easy life...or independence. The world is
full of danger. But what would life be without a challenge5 )ife will be
hard. But not even a two/headed monster will slow it down. The false head
of a venomous, giant centipede confuses predators and packs a powerful
punch. 3ts the real head that inflicts the venom. But this is a scorpion
mouse. And as they say, what doesnt kill you only makes you stronger.
%O&!' (A3)!
Their mothers give them the start they need. But its their own
experience that finally makes a man of the mouse. At less than four weeks
old, hes finally ready to leave his home...to wander the desert alone.
These two tiny lives may be separated by continents, but for all
youngsters, the challenges are the same. Theyll face hardship. There
will be twists and turns along the way. (ith luck, theyll avoid the
dangers and live their extraordinary lives running free. )ittle guys
dont always finish last. And heroes come in all si-es, especially in the
#idden $ingdom. 3n this series, the teams mission was to show viewers
the natural world from a completely new perspective. To achieve their
goal, they had to combine their experience as wildlife film/makers with
techni0ues learned from the world of feature films, using special
effects, storyboards, but most crucially of all, a great cast of
characters. 9ameraman .ip and producer !imon set off into the wilds of
$enya to find them. The animals in the series were small, but the kit
re0uired was greater than ever, weighing almost half a tonne. The theory
is, the smaller the things you film, the more kit you need. After dark,
!imon discussed his ambition with the team. 3f there was one thing 3d
really love to get, its +ust trying to give the audience an impression
of what it might feel like to be running down there, +ust a couple of
inches high off the ground at the same speed as a sengi. / !o, basically
like a car chase5 / ;eah, a sengi car chase. To learn as much as possible
about the sengi, next morning they met with trackers from the local
village. Trackers are more used to finding lions or big game, but these
had been using their skills to piece together the sengis movements.
;eah, this is the poo of the sengi. And with their help, they soon spot
one of the distinctive race tracks. / #eres a trail. / 2eally, where5 /
There. / ;oure kidding. / No, it goes over there. But it is true when
you come down here, you definitely can see a path. Thats a great sign.
3t wasnt long before the team got their first glimpse. / There it goes.
/ (ow, that was right in the distance. "id you see that5 / 3t +ust went
*vooom?* / That is ama-ing. / "id you even get it in shot5 / 3 dont even
know. 3 mean, 3 think 3 wasnt framed where it was. This was going to be
harder than they thought. The ground theyre covering in that time is
ridiculous. .ip, keep your eyes open. .ip moved into position. The sengi
continued to run rings around them. Oh, there he goes, he went straight
past you. 3t would be tricky but the team put their plan into action.
(ork began on building the perfect stage for the #idden $ingdom stars.
,irst, for a dung beetle. By building stages in the savanna, the team
could film the animals from low angles to show the audience the true
scale of this #idden $ingdom. To recreate the world from a small
creatures perspective would re0uire some special effects. Another
techni0ue, the use of blue screen. (e can then cut out the blue
background and replace it with something else. And all these elements
come together to create this kind of #idden $ingdoms look. The stage is
set. Tomorrow they would go in search of the one thing that would attract
the beetles. Time enough to implement their plan for the sengi. They
would need to win its trust...and began to build a special filming
territory, complete with trail. 3f a sengi would adopt their track, they
had a chance, and .ip knew how he could keep up. The cameras going to
whi-- down here... at sengi speed, which is... well, lightning speed,
really. To get down on the sengis level we have to dig a trench, dig a
blooming great hole to put the camera in, and the cameraman in, so that
were eyeball to eyeball with this incredible animal. After a lot of work
with a pick and shovel, the track was ready for a test run. This should
give you something to look at. 'very #ollywood star needs its own stand/
in. And, three, two, one. 3f they could earn the sengis confidence and
work with them, they might have a chance of bringing this animals
incredible abilities to the screen. But obviously at ten times the speed.
/ ;ou know, this might +ust work. / ;eah. The following morning, the team
got up well before dawn to collect the vital ingredient that would
attract the beetles to the stage. At the !heldrick 'lephant Orphanage,
young elephants are cared for by their keepers until theyre ready to
head back into the wild. Our chances of obtaining elephant dung have
drastically increased. The crew would +oin them on their daily walk to
sei-e any opportunity that presented itself. %orning. ;ou on that5 Nice
close up. 3ts a two/trowel techni0ue now. That one was nice, solid, good
form.
')':#ANT B2'A$! (3N"
T#'; )A&1#
'lephant flatulence. 3ts a good sign, its a good sign. 3t really smells
bad. (ith the secret ingredient to hand, they could return to the stage,
watch the skies, and wait for the dung castle to work its magic. / #ere
he is. / )ook, look, look, look, look. Theres our star. The first
sighting. / They are coming in from all directions. / (hat do you want to
do5 )ook, straight for it, look. At last, the beetles can take the stage.
(elcome to the #idden $ingdom. The great thing about these beetles in the
wild is they +ust pick a direction and they keep going and keep going and
keep going / theyre the perfect actors. But despite this success, as the
days wore on, one worry remained. (ould a sengi ever adopt the trail
theyd built and trust the team enough to race alongside it5 / O$, try
one as fast as you can. / 2eady5 / ;eah, 3 got it. (hat would happen5 /
T#'; )A&1# / "id you get that5 (ell, it went through frame, for sure. The
trails are so important to the lives of these tiny creatures that they
were even willing to forgive the 0uestionable trail/building skills of
the team. 3 +ust need to be slightly ahead of him... All they had to do
now was keep up. 3 was behind that then. ;ouve got a tail disappearing.
The sengi werent slowing down but eventually .ip managed to keep up.
That felt more on it. 3t was close. 3 lost him towards the end. Oh, the
moment of truth. #es through. )ook, hes running, hes running. / There
was certainly a moment. / That was more than a moment. 3ts going to
work, its going to work. This was one of the many filming territories
re0uired to capture the story of the sengis #idden $ingdom. After a
brief spell as T@ stars, it was as if we had never visited their world.
9ome on, up over the top. Brilliant. ;ou superstar. 9amera speed. On the
move in three, two...#ere we go, this is it. ,antastic, guys. (ell done.
The crews adventure in the miniature world was over, but they returned
home with a new/found admiration for the little things in life, those
extraordinary tiny heroes. Next week, we enter the #idden $ingdom of the
forest, a secret woodland and a steaming +ungle. Two tiny heroes must
fight for survival, escape their enemies...and above all, learn to use
the incredible powers they were born with.

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