Britain’s Tiger Kings—On the Trail with Ross Kemp Doc in the Works


A new two-part documentary project led by Ross Kemp, Britain’s Tiger Kings—On the Trail with Ross Kemp (working title), has been commissioned by ITV.

In the doc, Kemp goes on the trail of those who keep dangerous wild animals across Britain. It sees the award-winning documentary filmmaker going on a journey to discover why anyone would want to keep lions and tigers, and asking whether doing so is in the best interests of the animals. Britain’s Tiger Kings—On the Trail with Ross Kemp will air later in the spring on ITV.

In the two-part doc, Kemp meets a man who keeps two lions in his back garden and a couple who have used the profits from their scrap metal business to build a 200-strong animal collection. He also meets a former circus trainer who now trains animals for television programs, films and adverts, who keeps tigers among his menagerie.

Produced by Honey Bee in association with Freshwater Films, the doc is executive produced by Ed Taylor and Ross Kemp, and produced by Johnny McDevitt.

Kemp said: “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 programs explore what motivates someone to want to own a wild animal—whether it be a tiger, a lion, a 20-foot 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.”

Ed Taylor said: “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.”

Jo Clinton-Davis, ITV’s controller of factual, said: “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.”