ITV has ordered a new two-part documentary series made by Honey Bee in association with Freshwater Films, in which Ross Kemp goes on the trail of Britain’s own tiger and lion kings.

The new series, Britain’s Tiger Kings – On The Trail With Ross Kemp [W/T], which airs later in the Spring, features the documentary maker going on a journey to discover why anyone would want to keep a 250kg feline, and asking whether it is in the best interests of the animal to do so.

Ross says: “When I first started making these films I didn’t think it was possible to privately own a lion or a tiger in this country. I’ve found it truly eye-opening and disturbing to discover just how easy it is to source one and get permission to keep it legally.

“These programmes explore what motivates someone to want to own a wild animal – whether it be a tiger, a lion, a 20ft snake or even a crocodile, and whether it is right to do so. It certainly is a complex and emotive subject, and I found that some of the people who kept wild animals were quite extraordinary.

“It’s important to remember that all the big cats I came into contact with were born into captivity and therefore wouldn’t survive in the wild. But when I asked if they would consider sending their cat to a sanctuary which offers something close to a natural habitat – the answer was often no.”

Produced by Honey Bee (whose previous programmes include Agatha Christie: 100 Years of Poirot and Miss Marple C5, Frontmen, Reelz) in association with Freshwater Films, this 2×60 programme is executive produced by Ed Taylor and Ross Kemp, and produced by Johnny McDevitt.

Ed Taylor says: “You’d think keeping big cats and other dangerous wild animals privately would only be possible in America, but incredibly there are big cats, primates, elephants, and crocodiles being kept by individuals in Britain. In this eye-opening series Ross meets the men and women that share their lives with animals that could potentially kill them, and investigates the many issues surrounding ownership.”

The commissioner is ITV’s Controller of Factual, Jo Clinton-Davis, who says: “This is an untold story about an extraordinary world that exists on our doorsteps. Lifting the lid on these characters and the creatures inhabiting their lives, the series explores the realities of life for the owners and for these dangerous species themselves, which can be shocking and surprising in equal measure.”

Jon Creamer

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