Tribe Series 1, BBC2

by | Feb 7, 2005 | All, Reviews

Tribe: Ethiopia’s Suri, BBC2

1 Our hero Bruce Parry’s willingness to drink warm cow’s blood for breakfast after watching it being extracted from the creature’s jugular after a close-range shot with a bow and arrow. “Tastes like a very nutritious shake,” was his verdict. Our hero also agreed to have a pattern cut into his skin after watching an unflinching woman undergo body scarring on her breasts. “I hope you’re recording this, John,” Bruce winced, “because I’m not going to do this again.”

2 The amazing clay lip plates worn by the Suri women. The bigger the lips, the more cows the women get when they marry.

3 The amazing physiques of the Suri men (is it wrong of us to remark how well hung they all are?)

4 Black Bull the king in his baboon fur crown, singing songs akin to “Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” aimed at rival tribe, the Bume

5 The fortune teller inspecting a goat’s intestines. “The Suri believe goats and cows have the future written inside them,” Bruce explained

Tribe: Northern Mongolia’s Darhad, BBC2

1 – Our hero Bruce Parry has shown he can cope with sizzling heat and now he’s being heroic in the freezing cold. For once, he didn’t get his kit off.

2 – Our hero learning the hard way that it’s best not to approach a crazy horse from the front. And that there’s no point in setting off in pursuit once you’ve forgotten to tie up your frisky horse.

3 – The fact that the nomads of Mongolia don’t have a word for stress. The interpreter couldn’t even come up with a translation for “worries”. The nomads do have crunchy cheese, however. And wacky looking animals.

4 – The wild wrestling matches in which the men wear frontless shirts (because a woman once won a contest. V embarrassing) and frenetic horse race in which kids as young as six sped off on a 15-mile course.

5 – The mixed reception to malt whisky among the lovers of Gengis Khan vodka.

Tribe: The Gabon’s Babongo, BBC2

1 – Our hero Bruce Parry being brave enough to take the hallucinogenic drug iboga even though it resulted in the most violent vomiting we’ve ever seen on TV and a three-day trip.

2 – Our hero’s anxiety as a tree was about to be felled while members of the tribe sat round in close proximity, smoking and chatting

3 – The four-day hunting trip with poisoned arrows that could kill a man instantly. Nothing whatsoever was caught. No doubt the executives of Tesco will be planning to set up one of their garish Metro stores there soon.

4 – Our hero remaining in good spirits despite diarrhea, fever, the loss of a stone and sleeplessness

5 – The frenetic rituals to put a woman’s dead spirit to rest at her funeral

Tribe: West Papua’s Kombai, BBC2

1 Our hero Bruce Parry entering into the spirit of things by eating sago grubs (they explode in your mouth), running barefoot in thorny forests, having a grub pushed in his ear to eat the wax, having a thorn pushed through his nasal septum and smoking. “Smoking is the number one social activity, so to be accepted here my lungs are taking quite a hammering.”

2 Bruce being brave enough to let his new friends do unspeakable things with his penis. “For reasons I’m not entirely clear about, Kombai men invert their penis, somehow pushing it back into their body and wrapping what’s left in a leaf. I don’t know quite how to refuse without giving offence. No, I’m going to faint. That’s very strange.” He gave up them, but well done for trying, Bruce.

3 Bruce braving men armed with bows and arrows who insisted he strip naked (and give them some tobacco) before they’d welcome him

4 Bruce’s fascination with the stories about canibalism “When I was young, headhunters killed my brother,” one of the elders told him. “So I killed and ate the man who did it.”

5 The dancing with delight when a pig was caught. Bruce was able to breakfast on pork for once, instead of squirrel, rat and other horrors he’s had so far on his travels. But his diet soon took a downturn, with bats and grubs on the menu.

Tribe: Venezuela’s Sanema, BBC2

1 – Our hero Bruce Parry providing a running commentary after snorting a powerful hallucinogenic made from tree sap (“it’s like having ants up your nose”). “I’ve been painted, I’m wearing a second-hand loin cloth and just about to take a massive overdose of hallucinogen. Not my typical Thursday.” The result: he sees wild colourful things, throws up, learns a line of a shaman’s song and goes into a trance.

2 – The shamans dancing around like Saturday night drunks down the Old Kent Road

3 – Our hero trying to sleep in the same room as a shaman who sings all night to ward off evil spirits he’s seeing in his dreams

4 – Our hero tucking into dried caterpillars (“juicy and sweet”) and armadillo (“bland, like chicken, it’s been boiled to death”)

5 – Our hero learning the six-syllable word for hello – and being careful not to break the rule that you’re not allowed to use people’s names when they are in your presence.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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