Game of Thrones star Charles Dance is narrating a new season of Savage Kingdom — a nature documentary series unlike any other. In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com this week, Dance discussed the dramatic aspects of the show that set it apart from its contemporaries. To Dance — and to many Savage Kingdom fans — that is its strength.
Savage Kingdom is a nature docuseries following the predators of the African savanna, filmed in Botswana. It makes a narrative out of the lives of lions, hyenas, leopards and other wild animals, tracking their hunts, territory feuds and family alliances. Dance narrates all of this with all the dramatic effects he can muster, putting stakes into the simple storylines. He admitted that Savage Kingdom was not as objective and distant as other shows like it.
"It's definitely subjective," Dance told PopCulture.com. "I mean, the scripts that I have, they're written in a more dramatic way than the usual narration for wildlife documentaries, because the films are put together in a dramatic way, and there are definite storylines."
Dance also allowed that his personality sometimes finds its way into the story, as he occasionally pauses to reflect on the developments in Savage Kingdom. He said it was easy to "develop an attachment for particular animals," but that "even really ugly critters, like the hyena... You know, essentially I developed a soft spot." All of this adds depth to the show, Dance said.
"There are points during the narration where I'm invited, almost, to comment," he said. "There's like, another voice. I have the regular kind of narration voice, and then there are, there are places where I offer an opinion."
Savage Kingdom Season 4 premiered last weekend on National Geographic. Unlike other wide-ranging shows, this one focuses on the same cast of animal "characters" year after year, and Dance has become as invested in them as long-time viewers have.
"All of these guys have to survive. You know, they need water, I may need food and there's nobody coming along and opening a can of dog food and putting it down on the ground for them at five o'clock every afternoon, you know, they've got to go out and get it," he said.
However, Dance thought that this personification of the animals does the show good, and did not detract any of its value for education or wildlife awareness purposes. He said that the series' "pseudo-dramatic storyline" serves to "maintain an interest in pulling, maybe, a slightly different audience," but that the filmmakers "haven't created" that storyline. "It's just there, it's there to see. When the films are cut, there isn't much cheating, if I could use that word."
Savage Kingdom airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on National Geographic. Previous episodes are available to stream on Hulu, or on NationalGeographic.com. For more on all your favorite National Geographic shows, Charles Dance and more, keep it locked to PopCulture.com for the latest!