Dominic Monaghan is a big and small screen star who counts The Lord of the Rings and Lost among his credits. Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan sees the actor travelling, eating and playing his way to various corners of the planet in search of weird and wonderful creatures.
“The idea has been around for a while and it is essentially how I like to travel, I like to pick an animal and travel to a destination to discover it,” Monaghan says. “I had a pitch and had been talking to people about it and then we got a bite.”
That bite came from BBC America, which ordered the series as part of its drive into original programming.
It will be made by Cream Productions, the Toronto-based producer run by David Brady (Survivorman) and director and producer Christopher Rowley, and UK-based factual prodco Wildfire Television. They are making the show with OLN and Five, which will show it in Canada and the UK respectively.
“I learned how to surf with the boys from The Lord of the Rings and I am a big fan of surf movies and that influenced how I pitched this, it’s very unscripted and free. The idea was that I go off and look for key species, but along the way I get distracted by interesting things and people,” Monaghan says. “There is local street food in every episode and I love football, so there is also always a football sequence.”
At its core, Wild Things is, however, a wildlife show. “I love food and football, but the animals come first,” the show’s host says. “I’m not a professor or biologist, I’m an enthusiastic traveller and I hope this will make people who don’t watch nature shows tune in and hopefully get hooked.”
In each one-hour instalment, Monaghan goes to a different location, looking for a key species, but finding many more en route. ‘Biggest’, ‘scariest’ and ‘weirdest’ were the watchwords when selecting the animals that would be featured.
Over the full run, the show travels to Ecuador, Venezuela, Cameroon, Namibia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Guatemala. The core animals Monaghan is tracking down include army ants, the Goliath beetle, the black thick-tailed hairy scorpion and the giant huntsmen spider.
Clearly passionate about wildlife, Monaghan says his aim is to dispel myths about the giant bugs, creatures and creepy crawlies featured and make people think about them in a different way.
He says: “Insects and invertebrates are a lot more important to the planet than we are, if humans left the planet the world would continue, if worms left it would be dead in ten years. I hate it when people make blanket statements about certain animals and I want to make people feel differently about them.”
The show’s credits have Monaghan’s fingerprints all over them and he is listed as its creator, writer, coproducer and host. Known as an actor, this is the first time he has fronted a show in this way. “It’s me on the screen and it’s the first time I have put my neck on the line like this,” he says. “I’m the narrator, host and presenter; if people don’t like it, they don’t like me.
“I have spent the last four or five years producing stuff I’m involved with because that is a place I want to go to in my life and in my career and it shows that I have the smarts to solve problems.”
There are destinations already planned for series two, should the first season be well received. Monaghan says he would like to head to Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar and Peru next time as well as taking in England.
Meanwhile, the star is working up other ideas about keystone and endangered species, but says that acting will remain his first love.
He recently caused a storm on Twitter by making comments about his former Lost co-star Matthew Fox. The resulting furore hasn’t, however, put Monaghan off the micro-blogging platform.
“On the contrary, I thought all of that stuff was positive, I don’t say anything without intention,” he says. “At first I wasn’t highly motivated to do Twitter, but then I thought it is a good place to promote the show and to reach fans”
Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan is distributed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment, which will launch internationally at MIPCOM.
The show: Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan
The producers: Cream Productions and Wildfire Television with OLN and Five
The distributor: ITV Studios Global Entertainment
Airing: BBC America, Five (UK), OLN (Canada)
Concept: 8x60mins series following TV and movie star Dominic Monaghan as he searches for the biggest, scariest and weirdest creatures on the planet