planet earth
Lions vs Buffalo - whose side were you on? BBC

Who would have thought an episode on grassland for Planet Earth II would be more intense than a Christmas special of EastEnders on fast forward? Somehow or other, the genius that is David Attenborough and his dedicated team have made this series of the nature programme the right amount of informative, exhilarating and utterly terrifying.

Viewers were left hanging on the edge of their seats and divided on Twitter as #TeamLion and #TeamBuffalo when a group of five lionesses tried their very best – in gory detail – to take down a one-tonne buffalo. No biggie.

The big cats worked as a team in a bid to kill the giant beast in order to feed their three hungry cubs. After a nail-biting few minutes (much of it in agonising slow motion) of the buffalo tossing and turning in a bid to shake them off – with one lioness ripping a chunk of its back and gulping on what it thought was a pre-feast appetizer – it managed to escape. With a very nonchalant expression across its face, it has to be said.

Distressed members of the public took to Twitter to address the horror they had just witnessed, with one writing: "When you want the hungry lions to be able to eat, but you also want the buffalo to escape #PlanetEarth2 problems," as another wrote: "This is too much. Like, I was cheering for the buffalo but then remembered that the baby lions gotta eat #planetearth2".

But this isn't the first unsuccessful kill we've seen in Planet Earth II so far, as one viewer pointed out. The individual wrote: "For goodness sake. Lion doesn't get buffalo. Owl doesn't get mouse. Serval cat doesn't get rat. No one's eating. COME ON, #planetearth2".

And this is a pattern that has been emerging ever since the first episode, where a baby iguana managed to escape a psychotic racer snake army filmed on Fernandina Island. Despite escaping "the stuff of nightmares" according to Planet Earth fans, no one died and the snakes went hungry, much like a whole lot of predators this series thus far.

Are television producers shielding the public from the real happenings of nature? As we reported last week, over 150,000 Saiga Antelope died from a disease in front of the camera crew while filming the grasslands episode in Kazakhstan, Central Asia, but this epic story was not featured during the episode, surprisingly.

On whether show bosses are contriving nature and the reality of killing to please audiences Planet Earth II's director, Chadden Hunter, told IBTimes UK: "The crew had no idea how the lion and buffalo battle would unfold and it's something they couldn't have predicted. The lions most likely would have toppled the buffalo had the male of the pride helped out the lionesses.

planet earth
Baby iguana vs racer snakes in Planet Earth II's first episode BBC

"The Arctic wolf just happened to pick the wrong caribou calf when the team were filming. Predators are unsuccessful more often than they are successful although Grasslands did see the ant-eater hoovering up thousands of ants, the bee-eaters gobbling crickets and the fox catching the vole," he added.

TV commentator Paul Duddridge suggested that producers may be sugarcoating true events. He said: "Planet Earth II is one of the most talked about shows of the year. Week after week the show makers have come under fire for their use of hunter on prey action.

"I am hoping that the producers aren't holding back due to the public outrage, but instead are doing something respectful later on for the shocking antelope death. This is a controversial issue and I think that sugarcoating the episode for people by taking out the animal killings isn't the move to have made," he said.

Planet Earth II continues this Sunday (11 December) at 8pm on BBC1.