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John Bishop treks into Rwandan forest to highlight plight of gorillas for ITV

(Image credit: robertharding/REX Shutterstock)

ITV has announced comedian John Bishop (opens in new tab) will present a documentary about the plight of the endangered mountain gorillas of Rwanda – and he discovers he has more in common with them than he ever imagined.

John Bishop’s Gorilla Adventure is a 60-minute film in which the Liverpudlian star and a group of vets travel into the forests of Rwanda to highlight the precarious plight of the few mountain gorillas left in the wild.

The Gorilla Doctors are dedicated to saving the amazing creatures and, as John discovers, their work is paying off. Although they now number fewer than 900, when head vet Mike Cranfield started in 1998 there were barely 600 gorillas left. Now their numbers are increasing strongly, but only through the constant vigilance of the doctors.


John said: “The commitment of the Gorilla Doctors is incredibly inspiring. And when you are so close to these beautiful animals, it is humbling to see how this commitment is saving such an iconic beautiful creature.”


The doctors trek for hours every day through mud and rain to monitor the health of each gorilla and treat them at the first sign of illness of injury. It’s difficult, dangerous work, as John experiences, when a huge Silverback male threatens the team when they try to treat a baby gorilla they fear has contracted tetanus.

But it’s also deeply rewarding. One of the great success stories is a four-year-old gorilla that John and the team manage to track down in the dense undergrowth. At just three days' old, the vets had to amputate the bottom part of his left leg in and he’s not only survived but is on track to become a full grown Silverback.

John Bishop's Gorilla Adventure will screen on ITV over Christmas and New Year.

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.