Brett Westwood

Natural Histories: Mammals

Natural Histories: Mammals

A BBC Radio 4 nature collection


Award-winning wildlife presenter Brett Westwood explores our relationship with mammals, and their impact on human culture and society

For as long as humans have existed, animals have got under our skin, enthralling us with their wildness, enriching our lives and influencing art, literature, science and religion. And we feel perhaps the deepest connection with mammals, as we too are members of this same vast group. In these engrossing episodes from Radio 4's landmark series, Natural Histories, Brett Westwood tells the stories of 10 of the most mesmerising mammals, illuminating the often surprising ways they have shaped society.

Looking at our closest relatives, monkeys and apes, he discovers how they reflect our humanity, and how, from King Kong to the PG Tips chimps, we have exploited them for entertainment. Meeting an enthusiastic lurcher named Trevor, Brett finds out how dogs have changed us and vice versa, as he unpacks our close companionship with man's best friend. Drawing on tales of Dracula and Batman, he investigates our obsession with bats, and, in company with Verity Sharp, he gets up close to one of the weirdest, most endangered primates on Earth: the aye-aye. Plus, Brett experiences the magic of sloths with Joanna Pinnock; examines what a furry stuffed toy can teach us about our association with bears; and analyses how our perception of the enigmatic whale has undergone a transformation, from feared beast to icon of conservation.

Packed with fascinating facts about the biology and cultural history of each animal, this carefully curated collection celebrates the wonder and infinite variety of mammals, and shows how our past, present and future are inextricably intertwined with theirs.

Production credits
Presented by Brett Westwood with Joanna Pinnock (Sloth) and Verity Sharp (Aye-Aye)
Produced in partnership with the Natural History Museum, London
Producers: Tom Bonnett, Melvin Rickarby, Sarah Blunt, Beth O'Dea
Series producer: Mary Colwell
Additional sound recordings of Narwhals courtesy of Dr Susanna Blackwell, Greeneridge Sciences Inc.

Episode guide
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on the following dates:
Monkeys And Apes 2 June 2015
Bears 8 September 2015
Whales 17 November 2015
Elephant 27 September 2016
Bat 1 August 2017
Giraffe 7 November 2017
Reindeer 21 November 2017
Dog 4 September 2018
Sloth 18 October 2019
Aye-Aye 29 November 2019

© 2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd.

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