First peek at nature documentary on magical creatures

Feb 24, 2022

Posted by: Amanda Kirk

Fantastic Beasts, Fry

Whether or not you grew up watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, you probably have a soft spot for nature documentaries. Most people find their heavily edited and anthropomorphised glimpses of mammal behaviour endearing, and marvel at the amazing abilities of the most exotic sea creatures. I do not remember ever seeing an Erumpent on Wild Kingdom. Yet its near cousin the rhinoceros was featured. There has likewise been a notable absence of Nifflers in nature documentaries to date, but platypuses bear them a close resemblance. The fantastic beasts we know and love from the magical world are based on both documented and mythological beasts from the Muggle world. The Natural History Museum in London mounted an exhibition about this connection called Fantastic Beasts: The Wonders of Nature. Now, in collaboration with the BBC Natural History Unit, they have produced the documentary Fantastic Beasts: A Natural History.

Hosted by British actor, and Harry Potter series narrator, Stephen Fry, this documentary will mingle real-life animals, mythological beasts, and magical creatures from the Wizarding World. To make it, Fry traveled to see rhinos and learn how they inspired the mythological unicorn and the magical Erumpent. He visited sites where palaeontologists are digging for dinosaur bones and, maybe, dragons. Throughout it, his sense of wonder and his humour carry the viewer along with him on his learning journey.

Fantastic Beasts: A Natural History will air in the UK on Sunday 27 February on BBC 1 and iPlayer. It will air in the U.S. on HBO Max on 1 April.

The exhibition Fantastic Beasts: The Wonders of Nature will be at the Royal Ontario Museum from 11 June 2022 – 2 January 2023.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.