Meet Nigel      Biography
    

 

Present Day

Nigel lives in South Africa, close to the Garden Route near Knysna. His garden has boomslang snakes and puff adders in the grass, with Knysna louries in the trees. A caracal cat visits occasionally, and every evening a wood owl hunts for moths attracted by the verandah lamps.

 

The Early Days

Nigel aged 15 holding a spectacled caimanBorn in 1960, Nigel Marven showed early promise as a budding naturalist. He was running a hamster colony at age eight and racing stick insects along his mother’s clothes line by the time he was nine. In his early teens, Nigel had graduated to larger creatures, keeping a caiman, magpie and boa constrictors in his parents’ house. He even saved a freshwater eel from being jellied, housing it in the bathtub. When anyone needed a soak, the slippery creature was put in a bucket.

 

Family holidays in the Mediterranean became zoological expeditions, as young Nigel scampered over the countryside, pillowcase in hand, catching snakes and lizards for study and then release.

 

Once his school studies were over, Nigel took a year-out travelling throughout America, where he met hellbenders and amphiumas in the wild (both are kinds of salamanders). Returning to the UK, he moved to Bristol to read Botany and Zoology at university. This would prove to be the ideal place for him, because firstly he could pursue his interest in the natural world at an academic level, and secondly, Bristol is the world capital of wildlife filmmaking.

 Nigel in his early 20s grappling with a snake in the BBC toilets

Breaking into Television

Whilst he was researching for an MSc on the grazing interactions between limpets and diatoms (microscopic algae), Nigel got his first break in television. A BBC programme called Galactic Garden needed someone to wrangle worms in front of the camera. Working in BBC Bristol’s macro studio, Nigel learned the grammar of film-making from cameraman Alan Hayward.

 

Nigel’s first full-time television job was as a Researcher on David Attenborough’s First Eden series about the Mediterranean region. This was a dream come true because David had always been a BBC hero of Nigel’s. He recalls:

 

“The first time I met him, I said ‘Hello, I’m Nigel Marven the Researcher’, he replied ‘Hello, I’m David Attenborough’ as if I didn’t know, what a self-effacing man!”

 

On location for "My Family and Other Animals" with Brian Blessed and the rest of the castBecause of Nigel’s experience with Mediterranean wildlife, the BBC Drama Department in London asked him to be an Assistant Producer on a ten-part serialisation based on Gerald Durrell’s book My Family and Other Animals. This was a second dream come true for Nigel, My Family and Other  Animals was his favourite book, and he got to meet Gerald and his wife Lee when they visited the set. Filming took place over five months on the Greek island of Corfu.

 

Nigel directed the famous fight scene between Geronimo the gecko and a praying mantis. He also oversaw magpie and barn owl flight sequences, plus many other animals including Madame Cyclops, the one-eyed tortoise.

 

Presenting his own Films

Nigel talking with Jay Leno about his career.Nigel continued to work at the BBC for well over a decade, in this time producing many primetime wildlife films including Incredible Journeys and Life of Birds. He eventually left to join Granada Television, where he continued to produce cutting-edge wildlife films but also found a  new role in front of the camera. Five years later, Nigel is now running his own production company, Image Impact, and making films that are screened all over the world. For a detailed run-down of his work as a presenter, see the Nigel's Films section of the site.

 

  © 2009 Nigel Marven. All Rights Reserved.