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Series / Our Zoo

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Our Zoo is 2014 BBC drama series about the Mottershead family’s founding of Chester Zoo starring Lee Ingleby, Liz White, Amelia Clarkson and Honor Kneafsey.

Please do not feed the tropes:

  • Based on a True Story: It's a Dramatization and the phrase appears at the start of every episode.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Subverted. Billy attempts to clear a woodland path by telling a young couple it's being closed for scientific research. They don't buy it.
  • Close-Knit Community: And (for the most part) they don't like the Mottersheads moving in, at least at first.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Invoked both in and out of story in episode 3. A turning point in winning over the villagers occurs when Billy's van breaks down, forcing George and Billy to lead a group of penguins on foot to the zoo instead. Everybody loves penguins! Except the vicar.
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  • Evil Stole My Faith: George lost his faith in World War I. This does not endear him to the religious members of the village community.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Lady Katherine confides to George that she is this, but advises him that the reason she manages to hide this and the reason she believes George will be successful is because "money is like a flock of birds, if you look like you know where you're going, it will follow you."
  • It Will Never Catch On: Billy's main line of work is importing novel products from the USA, only to come up against this attitude. These include mangoes and peanut butter, both of which his potential customers just find too weird - though the peanut butter at least is a Chekhov's Gun, because it turns out that while Brits in the 1920s won't eat it, bears will.
    • The zoo itself also gets this reaction a lot, not least from George's mother.
  • Karma Houdini: The person or people who destroyed the zoo’s aviary is never identified and doesn’t face any legal action for both breaking and entering and criminal damage.
  • Nature Lover: George, of course - it's why he wants to build a zoo. His daughter June falls under this trope too.
  • Novelization: Of a sort. The series is partly based on June Mottershead's memories, and an actual memoir was published to tie in with it. It's a straight non-fiction memoir and not a "making of the show" book, but because it was developed in tandem with the series, it's able to lampshade where the show takes liberties with the truth.
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  • Open Heart Dentistry: The local doctor helps out with a poorly bear.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: George Mottershead is still suffering the effects of serving in WW1 nearly a decade earlier. When he first has the idea for a zoo, some of those around him assume he's finally cracked up.
  • The Vicar: He leads the resistance to the Mottershead's zoo.