Wild at Heart

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Drama, UK, 2006, 47 min.

Synopsis Series 1 (2006): The Trevanion family is introduced at home in Bristol, England, where an abandoned vervet monkey is brought into Danny's veterinary surgery. His wife Sarah suggests a family vacation to Africa to rehabilitate it. Arriving at Leopards Den, they meet Anders Du Plessis ("Dup") whose family has owned the property for over 100 years. He persuades them to stay and enter into a business partnership to restore the property as a game reserve for wild animals. The Trevanions begin settling into life in the African bush, and Danny grows into his role as a gifted vet treating stray cheetahs, elephants, etc. They face many challenges, including a deadly snakebite, an anthrax outbreak that threatens the reserve's stock; starving lions; runaway children; uninvited guests; and competition from Mara, the larger game park next door whose owner, Alex Tate, doesn't share Danny's values and tries to make a move on Sarah.Series 2 (2007): The Trevanions struggle financially and attempt to satisfy their first guests' desire for acceptable accommodations and game drives. Mara's owner is killed while illegally hunting a rhino, and the new manager Cedric Fatani seems even more intent on causing mayhem, as he diverts water from the shared spring, causing the death of many Leopards Den animals. A bitter inspector refuses to renew their permit to house wild animals; Sarah's difficult mother Caroline arrives; and a plane crashes nearby, exposing the family to the threat of deadly disease from a contraband chimpanzee. When Dup is nearly killed and Danny seriously injured in a lion attack, Danny's confidence is shattered, and Fatani takes advantage by trying to buy them out in a moment of weakness.Series 3 (2008): The Trevanions attempt to build an animal hospital at Leopards Den initially a friendly collaboration with Elliot Kriel, the new American owner of Mara. However, his cooperation turns to hostility when he thinks he's been betrayed. Sarah returns briefly to supply teaching at the local school. Tiger cubs go missing, and Rosie Trevanion gets engaged. The series ends with a spectacular drought- and wind-driven wildfire, which ruins Rosie's wedding day, and in the chaos Sarah dies trying to save the family's pet cheetah, Jana. Shocked and wracked with grief, it looks certain Danny will take Sarah's children back to their father in England until they all agree they want to stay at Leopards Den, and the locals pitch in to help rebuild the fire-ravaged animal hospital.Series 4 (2009): About a year after Sarah's tragic death, Danny battles for custody of stepson Evan. The court rules against them and Evan goes briefly back to England, but he convinces his father to let him return. Rosie marries Max and they move to Cape Town so Rosie can attend vet school. A rabies outbreak threatens to decimate the wild animal population, and a new vet, Alice Collins, arrives at Leopards Den. Vanessa, Mara's new owner, creates rivalry by falsely claiming to be in a relationship with Danny. Danny nearly dies due to an accident during a severe storm, and the series ends with Danny and Alice declaring their love for each other.Series 5 (2010): The fifth series focuses on family relationships. Du Plessis finally marries Caroline, but extreme tension arises for everyone when Danny's deeply troubled step-daughter Olivia (Liv) turns up unannounced. Struggling to cope, Alice takes a job as vet at Mara and moves there with Charlotte when she and Danny can't resolve their differences. Danny is implicated in the death of a prize black leopard and gets struck off. Things look bleak on all fronts, until a surprise confession turns the tide. Danny and Alice become engaged, and Vanessa finds a way to solve her financial problems at Mara without help from her interfering father.Series 6 (2011): On honeymoon in London, Danny and Alice see Danny's estranged father Robert (Warren Clarke). He returns with them to save their pride of lions from a deadly illness. However, Robert soon reveals he has brain cancer. His parting gift is a healthy pair of lions to give Danny a fresh start. Youth offender Thabo is hired for the lion-breeding project. Danny tries "to make a difference" against illegal wild animal trading, but the family faces extreme problems, and mining company AfriSpec managed by Christian Peeters poses the greatest threat yet to their livelihood just as Alice reveals she's pregnant. Vanessa sells Mara to AfriSpec, and Peeters wins a High Court case to demolish Leopards Den to build a roadway. Caroline suffers a lion attack, and under great duress the family splits up everyone but Danny and Dup leave for England. In the series cliffhanger Danny and Dup find a way to get AfriSpec to temporarily halt demolition.Series 7 (2012): Danny and Dup are working for a new vet, Ed Lynch (Robert Bathurst) at nearby game reserve 'Big Five'. The family returns and tries to make a start at severely derelict Clearwater Farm, but they desperately want Leopards Den back. Alice is called back to the UK. Dup discovers Christian Peeters' dead body in the swimming pool and becomes obsessed with the notion that Danny murdered him in a rage. When AfriSpec withdraws from the mining project, the Trevanions try to buy back Leopards Den but can't afford it. Ed Lynch offers a partnership, and Danny agrees, but complications arise when Ed's estranged wife Fiona arrives unexpectedly. Danny goes briefly to jail but is exonerated. Rosie returns from Cape Town and reveals that she and Max have separated, while Danny makes an agonized decision to go to England to be with Alice when the baby is born. Meanwhile, Ed and Fiona are conniving to use Leopards Den for their own ends. As Danny tries to depart, his beloved elephant family blocks his path and it appears he will once again return to Leopards Den.Finale Special (2012): Ed Lynch and Fiona are gone. Alice is back, but work demands and caring for baby Robert lead to tensions with Danny. Martin, the new neighbor at Mara, has his eye on Alice. Liv and Fatani are struggling; nobody likes Rosie's fiancé Dylan; and Dup receives a frightening medical prognosis. The family's cheetah Cassidy is poached, and tensions are high. Dup decides to use his remaining time to fix his ailing family by proving to Danny that his future son-in-law is worthy. As the wedding approaches, Danny, Dup, Rosie and Dylan set out on one last adventure, but Rosie is forced to fly them away from danger and it appears Dup has hatched his last disastrous plan. The saga of the Trevanion family concludes as Dup slips quietly away during Danny's wedding tribute. He climbs the rocky outcrop overlooking his beloved South African bush, where years earlier he made the decision to invite the Trevanions to live at Leopards Den. With tears of love Caroline explains, "He'll always be here." Framed by the setting sun, Dup removes his hat and closes his eyes.

Directed by Nicholas Laughland, Darrell Roodt, Barry Berk, Ian Barnes, Roger Gartland, Juliet May, Richard Spence, Andrew Gunn, Maurice Phillips, David Richards, Beryl Richards, Paul Harrison, David Caffrey, Jim O'Hanlon, Cilla Ware, David Evans, Nigel Douglas, Adam Friedlander  

Starring Stephen Tompkinson, Deon Stewardson, Nomsa Xaba, Thapelo Mokoena, Hayley Mills, more...

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