will work for nuts (1/6)
Animals get the chance to flaunt their natural abilities in this entertaining new wildlife series on Five. Three experts put their knowledge to inventive use as they devise clever stunts and challenges for Britain’s unsuspecting animals. In tonight’s opening episode, the first-ever bee race is staged; a pair of goldfish are trained to play football; the team engages in a spot of squirrel fishing and a fox has its gourmet taste buds tested by some sausages.
Will Work for Nuts presents familiar animals in unfamiliar stunts. Three men, drawn together by a knowledge of wildlife and a twisted sense of fun, use their curiosity to see how they can help animals show off their abilities. Lloyd Buck is an Essex boy and bird trainer; Matt Thompson has spent ten years making wildlife shows for TV and James Cooper is the show’s resident technical expert. All of their stunts are based on natural animal behaviour and are intended to test a few long-held perceptions about these remarkable creatures who share our everyday lives.
The first challenge is an experiment involving bumblebees. It has long been known that bees are exceptional navigators with an inbuilt sense of direction, rather like homing pigeons. But can they compete in a race back to their hive? The job of devising such a test falls to James, who hits upon the plan of releasing three bees from different locations, three miles from their hive.
To carry out his scheme, James employs three automatic pet feed boxes that can be set to unleash the bees at the same time. “The bees can then fly all the way back and we can count them in… the first one back is the winner,” James explains. To tell the bees apart, the team paints each one with a coloured dot.
Next, the three lads drop off their bees at their chosen locations. Lloyd and Matt know that bees can recognise places they have recently visited, so they have left their bees in fields of flowers in the hope that they have been there before and can find their way back. James, meanwhile, has chosen a location with a favourable tail wind which he hopes will speed his contender home. “May the best bee win,” Lloyd says, before the competitors are released from their boxes. Will all three bees make it back to the hive? And which one will win?
Elsewhere, Matt has decided to go one better than bird trainer Lloyd, and teach a pair of goldfish to play football. “I wanted to take it up a notch, so I’ve chosen a couple of animals that are famed for having really bad memories,” Matt says. His extraordinary proposition involves using a feeder wand to attract the fish’s attention. After a while, the fish associate the wand with food, at which point Matt gradually replaces the wand with a mini-football. Once the fish are taught that pushing the ball into a goal will earn them a food reward, they are ready to compete.
Matt and Lloyd each pick a fish and go head to head in the first football match of its kind: Thierry Henry the Fish versus Peter Crouch the Fish. But can a goldfish really master the beautiful game? The surprising results have Matt dreaming of a full 11-a-side tournament.
Also this week, Lloyd, Matt and James head to the park to engage in the little-known sport of squirrel fishing. All this stunt requires is a nut tied to a piece of string – the perfect bait to ‘hook’ a squirrel and lift it into the air. Plus, Matt tests the theory that urban foxes are developing refined tastes by leaving six sausages in a garden for a visiting fox to try. The sausages range from cheap supermarket fare to premium organic brands – but which one will tickle the fox’s fancy?