UK star meets Cayman stingrays

Television
star Martin Clunes was on-island Monday and Tuesday filming for a prime time
show and touring some of Cayman’s favourite attractions.

Martin
Clunes: Man To Manta is to air on January 2, 2011 on ITV, the UK’s most
popular commercial free-to-air channel. The documentary will air at 9pm and
will highlight a quest to find out more about manta rays, explained Mr. Clunes,
who is familiar to British television viewers as star of Doc Martin and Men Behaving
Badly.

“When I
said I was making a programme about manta rays, everyone said, ‘Watch out, remember
what happened to Steve Irwin’, but that was a stingray [that killed him]. But
it was great to visit Stingray
City and kick the
programme off there,” he said.

“I’m not
a zoologist or a scientist or anything else; what I have to offer is my
ignorance. Rather than telling the audience what I know, it’s come and look
over my shoulder while I find things out and it seems to work quite well.”

 

Ecologist

The idea
for the show came out of a conversation the Born Free Foundation supporter had
with marine ecologist and writer Tim Ecott, who explained that manta rays are
endangered and that little is known about the creatures.

“It’s
not a preachy programme, there’s very little known about them even by the
[experts]; their migratory habits, what they eat, why they go certain places,
disappear and pop up in other places – [the research] has only just begun,”
explained Mr. Clunes, who noted that Mr. Ecott had urged that Stingray City
must be included in the programme.

The
actor and his crew worked with the Department of Tourism and Caymana Productions
on the logistics of the programme. The trip included going out to the sandbar
in the company of Captain Chuckie and a helicopter ride with Jérôme Begot to
gather aerial shots, explained Beth Henning of the production company.

“Cayman
Helicopters provided brilliant service for the crew to capture some awesome
aerial footage, and Captain Chuckie of Black Princess boat tours co-starred
with Martin at the sand bar, providing a wealth of knowledge on the history of
Stingray City, and was commended by the crew for excellent service,” noted the
local business owner.

The
first part of Man to Manta was filmed in Atlanta,
Ecuador and Grand Cayman,
with a second leg of filming set to take place in Sri
Lanka and the Maldives in October. Although the
crew was on Cayman for only two full days, it made a significant impression on
the actor and presenter.

“It’s
the first time I’ve been here, but I’m definitely going to bring my family back
as it seems a great place for a holiday. We saw a little bit of Cayman and
found out a little bit about it from the people we’ve chatted to and we’ve been
made extraordinarily welcome. This leg of our trip has been a real treat.”

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