‘Our Zoo’ episode guide

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BBC One’s new drama Our Zoo is based on the real story of the eccentric Mottershead family who established Chester Zoo in the 1930s.

Written by award-winning playwright Matt Charman, the six-part series stars Lee Ingleby (Inspector George Gently) as ex-serviceman George Mottershead, alongside Liz White (Life On Mars) as his wife.

The cast also includes Anne Reid (Last Tango In Halifax), Peter Wight (The Paradise), Ralf Little (The Royle Family), Sophia Myles (Underworld) and Stephen Campbell-Moore (The History Boys).


Episode 1

Wednesday 3 September 2014, 9pm

Frustrated by living with his wife and two daughters under his parents’ roof and tormented by his war trauma, George decides to change his life and put a bit of beauty back into the world.

Haunted by memories of combat in the Great War, he now finds himself living with his wife and two daughters in his parents’ cramped home above the family grocery store. While delivering goods by the docks one day, he spots an unwanted squirrel monkey and a camel about to be put down in the quarantine bay. George can’t bear to let them suffer so takes them both home to his parents’ backyard instead – much to the family’s bewilderment.

His family sees this as further evidence that he’s losing his mind, but George is busy making plans that will change their lives forever. On the way to an army reunion he comes across a rundown stately home, Oakfield, surrounded by acres of land, and he formulates the idea of buying it and building around it the first British zoo without bars.

Against the odds he persuades the bank to lend him the money to buy Oakfield. But once George has persuaded his sceptical family to move into their new ramshackle house, the whole family faces the tough task of convincing the genteel and hard-to-please villagers to accept them as neighbours. George thinks it best to keep the zoo plans secret, which becomes difficult when Mortimer the monkey escapes into the village.


Episode 2

Wednesday 10 September 2014, 9pm

Against their family’s wishes George and Billy attempt to coax two malnourished bears out of a cave in Matlock, before abandoning Lizzie to start work on the zoo.

With the zoo expanding beyond their control and Lucy proving obstinate, Lizzie takes matters into her own hands.

In Upton, Reverend Webb conspires to find out what George is up to.


Episode 3

Wednesday 17 September 2014, 9pm

The family nurse Eve the bear back to health as the local residents grow more hostile towards the zoo.

The zoo continues to expand beyond the family’s means, forcing George to deploy all of his charm and persuade a local journalist of its unique worth.

While George’s proclamations fall on deaf ears, Billy brings home a surprise that could turn things around.


Episode 4

Wednesday 24 September 2014, 9pm

When Adam the bear escapes, George is badly injured in the process of retrieving him.

Dr Ford treats his injuries, but June is disturbed to learn how close her father was to death.

In urgent need of funds to secure the bears, and with no help from the bank, George decides to organise a benefit at Selborne Hall.


Episode 5

Wednesday 1 October 2014, 9pm

Planning permission for the zoo is denied, destroying George’s dream and threatening to tear the family apart.

However, Lady Katherine’s connections in Whitehall give the family a lifeline. She and George embark on a trip to London to convince the Deputy Minister of Health to grant an appeal, while the family deal with a shocking new arrival at Oakfield.


Episode 6

Wednesday 8 October 2014, 9pm

A visiting inspector from the Ministry of Health, who could overturn the council’s decision to ban the zoo, represents the family’s last hope.

When the aviary nets are slashed George begins to lose both his grip and his self-control. Concerned that he might throw away their last chance to save the zoo, Lizzie reaches out for legal help, but it comes at a cost.

Emotions are running high at the hearing, when a secret is revealed which could tip the balance. An inspection of the zoo is held, but the final decision could take weeks – can the family hang on, and is there life after Oakfield?


Watch the trailer…

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