It’s John to the res­cue

JOHN BISHOP’S GREAT WHALE RES­CUE

Daily Mirror - - TODAY’S TV - with SARA WAL­LIS

ITV, 9pm

IN the un­like­li­est of friend­ships, Scouse comic John Bishop has fallen in love with two Bel­uga whales from China.

The pas­sion­ate an­i­mal lover joined a team to bring the in­cred­i­ble crea­tures from cap­tiv­ity back to the wild. The re­sult – cap­tured in this two-part doc­u­men­tary – is a Free Willy-type ad­ven­ture that be­came a com­pli­cated and emo­tional jour­ney for all in­volved.

Lit­tle White and Lit­tle Grey are the two Bel­uga whales who were cap­tured as young­sters.

For the last 10 years they have been liv­ing to­gether, per­form­ing in an en­ter­tain­ment park, Changfeng Ocean World in China.

Now the new own­ers of the park are com­mit­ted to re­turn­ing them to a life in the ocean and we can fol­low them ev­ery step of the way. “They’re in a prison but they don’t know it’s a prison,” says John.

“It can’t be right to have crea­tures like this, in a tank.

“This is a world first, we’re go­ing to try to take two Bel­uga whales from Shang­hai and re­lease them in Ice­land.

“This project will lit­er­ally change the land­scape for these mam­mals.”

But the move was be­set by chal­lenges in­clud­ing bad weather, can­celled fer­ries and chang­ing lo­gis­tics. “What could pos­si­bly go wrong?” says John,

“Well as it hap­pens, just about ev­ery­thing.”

As John fol­lows their jour­ney, he de­vel­ops an as­ton­ish­ing bond with the whales, swim­ming with them and help­ing to train and coach them.

But can he and the team save them?

He says: “You just hope with ev­ery ounce of your heart that it’s go­ing to turn out for the good.”

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