Britain’s Big Cat Mystery – Documentary
Growing up in the countryside of rural Britain in the 1980s, it was almost impossible to get through a single week without over-hearing the mumbled and hushed whispers of nearby adults discussing the emergent folkloric legend of the ‘Exmoor Beast’ or the ‘Beast of Bodmin’ with serious undertones of angst, confusion and excitement.
For my generation, with our imaginations fuelled by comic books and the numerous Hollywood coming-of-age epics that were spawned of the era, such as ‘The Goonies’ or the ‘The Lost Boys’, the snippets of rumours and the regular coverage on the local news planted the notion of dangerous animals being secretly present within the seemingly calm, peaceful and safe splendour of the British countryside; and this is what it remained for most of us – a notion. Just simply an idea, a point from which an intrigued imagination can begin to plot its own forays of adventure in seeking to resolve the mystery at hand; however, not all minds were intrigued, and for many, the legend was regarded as exactly that – no more than a myth, a fantasy which was repeatedly refuelled by recurring misidentifications of the neighbour, Mrs. Jones’ pet Labrador dog by drunken townsmen en route home from their nightly shift, taste-testing the ales of the local tavern. As such, the phenomenon was relegated by the masses to the status of fiction and fantasy; another Loch Ness monster never to be found, another Irish alligator to elude the scientific world, another boggart or fairy to hide at the bottom of the garden and cause mischief.
Little did I know that it would take more than two decades before I found out the truth. My experience does not stand out from the huge accumulation of eyewitness reports which typically recount the glimpses of large black cats which are observed by the casual rambler or dog-walker. It did however ignite a fuse that would ultimately lead to the planning and organisation of the largest field research expedition ever undertaken in Britain in pursuit of obtaining credible, unequivocal and conclusive evidence of these mysterious large cats.
To achieve this, the hurdles and obstacles which had to be navigated were surprising. As a cynical individual drawn to conspiracies, I was well aware of suggestions that a powerful and clandestine authority (possibly based in Westminster or Whitehall) was secretly pulling strings to suppress the growing bank of evidence for anomalous non-indigenous predatory felines being loose in the wilds of Britain; however, it never occurred to me that the evidence was being suppressed by the big cat researchers themselves.
As I tentatively dipped my toe in the water, to reach out to other big cat enthusiasts and field researchers, I quickly found myself immersed in a world of fiercely segmented and tribal cliques with gang-like mentalities and sworn allegiances to their own local or preferred experts, each sect urgently withholding and hiding their best photographic evidence and their best field research, whilst simultaneously attempting to discredit, debunk and dismiss that which was found by rival researchers, in the hope that their own team will be the one to reveal the full truth and blow the lid off of this mystery; each hoping to take fame and glory for themselves with little thought for the consequences and no plan to assist in the serious and sensitive traversing of the minefield of issues which will likely present in the aftermath of such news and mainstream national acceptance.
Careful networking and the gentle building of trust within the world of big cat researchers has now culminated in the formation of a new team comprised of learned experts and professionals equipped with the most advanced technology ever used in attempt to tackle this mystery. Furthermore, their upcoming excursion into the territory of the beast will be recorded in high definition for all to see; from the ground, from the air, and also using cutting-edge thermal cameras. However, in keeping with the traditions of other more established big cat research cliques, I intend to play my cards close to my chest and do not wish to show my hand just yet.
For those who want to know more, the documentary “Britain’s Big Cat Mystery” by ‘Dragonfly Films Video Production’ is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2020…
Watch the trailer at: https://vimeo.com/315009848
Written by Tim Whittard