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  • I thoroughly enjoyed this series from start to finish. The plot, storyline and portrayal of the characters was excellent. The fact that this dramatization was based on a true story made it all the more remarkable and unique. The setting was beautiful and the animals were believable for the out start of a zoo for that time period. The wardrobe and costumes were also exquisite especially at the Charity Ball. The characters themselves were likable and you could connect with each of the family members and their supportive friends. The actors were so well chosen and represented their roles perfectly. The script was well written and enhanced the storyline so well. My admiration goes to the writers and producers for putting together such a brilliant adaptation of this true story. I'm disappointed that the series has ended and feel there must be more to the on going story or tales of the zoo after it was officially opened.
  • The charm of 'Our Zoo' is that it is based on the incredible true story of a man called George Mottershead, who with his family in the 1930s had a vision to build a zoo without bars. This zoo is Chester Zoo and today has been named by trip adviser as No 1 in the UK and is the most visited tourist attraction in the UK outside London. Also pleasing to know is Chester Zoo has also evolved with the times and today is now heavily involved in conservation work.

    George despite having no formal higher education was a pioneer in keeping animals in enclosures without bars. He wasn't very wealthy but was determined to create a zoo where animals would be happier and well cared for. Incredibly resourceful as well as being quite a risk taker, he was also very fortunate to have the support of his family, who had strengths which complemented his own and were willing to work hard to make the zoo a success. In 1930, it was the time of the depression and George was able to purchase 'Oakfield' a manor house at a bargain price at auction, along with stables,a conservatory, lodge and a 7 acres of grounds. The story is based on the struggle George and his family had to open the zoo due to local opposition, including that of the local reverend. George found to his surprise the local gentry taking an interest and providing support as many of them already kept themselves exotic pets. This is an inspiring story with all the elements needed in a drama to keep the viewer entertained. The acting is superb in it and the sets and costumes take you back to the wonderful era of the 1930s.
  • OUR ZOO tells the story of George Mottershead (Lee Ingleby) and his family, who founded Chester Zoo in the early Thirties in the face of considerable pressure from the local people of Upton as well as the Ministry of Health. The story is a familiar one common to British movies (remember PASSPORT TO PIMLICO (1949), or THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT (1953)) of the underdog triumphing against apparently impossible odds.

    Directed by Andy de Emmony, Robert McKillop, and Saul Metzstein, this six-part drama series emphasizes the importance of family values as a way of resisting bureaucracies. Despite occasional differences of opinion - especially in the last episode, as George prepares to fight the court case - George, his wife Lizzie (Liz White), and their two children (Honor Kneafsey, Amelia Clarkson) stay together through thick and thin, even if they have to endure several difficult times in the process. The move from their cramped little shop to the newly- purchased stately home and gardens (the location for the zoo) is a traumatic one, especially for Muriel (who wants to continue her relationship with Christopher (Perry Glasspool). They experience continual problems of making financial ends meet, and subsequently have to endure the villagers' almost unanimous opposition to the project. The fact that they emerge triumphant in the end offers a comment on today's society; despite the preoccupation with individualism (a by-product of capitalist values), community loyalty often provides the surest means of achieving one's ends.

    George's parents (Anne Reid, Peter Wight) clearly understand the importance of this dictum, as they act unselfishly in their son's interests, rather than continuing their humdrum lives as co-owners of a greengrocer's shop. Both actors offer portrayals of stable, level-headed personalities, the kind of people that keep George's feet on the ground as he tries to fulfill his dream.

    Stylistically speaking, OUR ZOO is shot in a series of dimly-lit interior sequences, reflecting the realities of life during the Thirties. The program's location-work is particularly convincing, especially in the opening episode, where the Mottishead's life in a cramped back-to-back terraced development proves constricting, both physically and mentally. Sometimes Matt Charman and Adam Kemp's script incorporates some linguistic anachronisms that wouldn't have been uttered by people living in early Thirties Britain, but its emphasis on so-called "old-fashioned" values such as the strength of the family is both touching and heart-warming. OUR ZOO is definitely a series worth spending time with.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Without a doubt, this is far better than any of the fare offered up to us by Doctor Who or Downton Abbey in recent years. Brilliant cast, brilliant production values, brilliant story...I only wish it could have lasted longer! The story, at first glance, may seem like the usual shtick designed to entertain the family in front of the telly at tea-time, and in a way it is. It isn't overly-sentimental in it's view, though- it's not one of the many "those-were-the-days" shows clogging up our screens nowadays, and while it may look at the 1930s through those famed rose-tinted lenses, it's extremely sweet and charming in it's nostalgic intent. George's plight at the hands of PTSD (or 'shell-shock' as it was known those days) is heart-breaking to watch, as are the trials that his family must endure in order to maintain a tolerable standard of living. However, after encountering a customs officer with parrots and monkeys left on his hands, George buys them from him along with a mistreated old camel from a cruel circus owner out of compassion. And, when he discovers the forgotten Oakfield House on his way to a war reunion, the light-bulb goes off- a zoo. "A zoo without bars", no less. The numerous episodes are funny and light-hearted but can venture into serious territory at times (one involves George being accosted by an enraged bear), and at one hour long they're perfectly paced and a delight to watch. The cast is sensational, especially Lee Ingleby, Liz White and Anne Reid. Ingleby seems to be the perfect choice for these kinds of roles- sympathetic and kind-hearted but stubborn at times, he represents a tortured man who is trying to "put a bit of beauty back into the world." White is excellent as his long-suffering but nonetheless dedicated wife Lizzie, and Reid is in her element as his prickly but loving mother Lucy. Peter Wight, Ralf Little and Honor Kneafsey are all excellent too as the supportive Albert, the hilarious Billy and the innocent June, respectively. The production values are amazing, emulating a true dedication to period detail. And the animals...well, let's just say that I have a soft spot for those little penguins! One of the best sequences of the entire series was George and Billy walking 'em down the high street! In short, this was a sensational BBC drama that shows that they've still got it when they put their minds to it and manage to wrangle a great cast and crew. I only wish there could be more, but if there was it would become far too much like a soap opera! Amazing.
  • This is a good bbc drama although it is a dramatised version of the true story. I wanted to challenge the point another reviewer who says we cannot justify zoos in the modern world. That is an idiotic statement and one that is what is wrong with the world at the moment. Zoos are more important than they ever have been. They are key in conservation and education. They are breeding animals that are in danger of going extinct and educating people all over the world in why animals need to survive rather than killing them directly or indirectly. It's a shame the internet has allowed ignorant people a voice.
  • Lee Ingleby plays George Mottershead, a wounded ex First World War soldier left with post traumatic stress. He has a loving family and loves animals.

    Helped by money from his parents he purchases a manor in the early 1930s and turns it to Chester Zoo but has to deal with some opposition from prominent locals and officialdom.

    Of course despite the hardship George endures, we realise that he will eventually triumph as Chester Zoo is still going strong and this is inspired by true events. However as with the feature film 'We bought a Zoo' the series is more about the journey, triumphing over adversity and being together as a family. The series also has the feel good factor of exotic animals being introduced to the grim north of the 1930s and allowing the makers to have dimly lit interiors and some two dimensional villains who think George is having a delusional flight of fancy.

    George might be an idealist and you do find yourself rooting for him there is something rather derivative about Our Zoo. Maybe it wants to channel the success of Call the Midwife but got nowhere near reaching the levels of All Creatures Great and Small and not helped by its grim colours and gloomy mood. A drama about a zoo should had been bright and colourful.

    The show never quite took off in the ratings and ended up being cancelled after one series by the BBC.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mr Lee Ingleby is excellent in this rose - tinted view of England oop north between the wars. "Our Zoo" is full of comforting familiar faces all doing their comforting familiar schtick from a comforting familiar script - and therein is both its strength and its weakness. It's like lying in a bath of warm treacle and about as demanding. All it needs is a bit of "From the New World" and we'll all dream of when we could have a night at the flicks,a fish and chip supper and a bus home and still have change from five bob. There is an extra bonus for camel - lovers and a cute monkey,but - Mr Ingleby apart - not a believable character. As institutions,zoos are becoming harder and harder to justify,but 70 years ago they were places to amaze rather than horrify. There is a sense of that wonder just about detectable in this series,but little else to set it apart from "The village" or "The mill" except it doesn't take itself so seriously - thank heavens. Competent family entertainment with added animals while we wait for "Wild at heart" to start its re - runs.
  • Scant few scenes of wildlife interacting with humans interwoven with old timey British melodrama. If your kids don't have an iPad maybe they'll enjoy. Pretty boring.