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Return of the Tiger King: Louis Theroux is making a new Joe Exotic documentary for the BBC

The king of painfully awkward documentaries is set to revisit the story of the infamous Tiger King in a new BBC project.

He’s met unhinged UFOlogists, shady survivalist conspiracy theorists, and he has even dared to come face to face with Ann Widdecombe, but the wackiest character Theroux has ever encountered must surely be with Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic, even better known as the Tiger King following the eponymous Netflix documentary that was a surprise smash-hit in the early days of the Covid lockdown.

One year later, BBC Two has commissioned a documentary entitled Louis Theroux: The Cult of Joe Exotic, which will give the faux-naif filmmaker the chance to revisit one of television’s trashiest tales.

The original Netflix documentary, which didn’t involve Louis Theroux, followed the lives of collectors and conservationists of big cats, with each character seeming less credible and more outrageous than the last. Carole Baskin attracted a lot of attention when viewers accused her of having had a role in the mysterious disappearance of her husband, but it was her arch-enemy Joe Exotic who stole the show, right up until his conviction for hiring a hitman to murder Baskin. Rather then speaking on his behalf, I’ll let him introduce himself via his 2016 US Presidential campaign video:

As Tiger King fever spread almost as contagiously as the Covid-19 pandemic itself, fans soon discovered that he’d already featured on our screens years earlier, when Louis Theroux had made his a documentary called America’s Most Dangerous Pets

The new BBC documentary will focus on footage taken during this documentary shoot, about which Theroux said: “This is one of those quintessentially American stories, taking place in the heartland of Oklahoma, with a cast of characters almost too colourful and larger-than-life to be believed. I spent eight or nine days filming at the park back in 2011, over the course of three separate visits. I’d forgotten how much we shot until I went back into the footage during lockdown. It’s extraordinary how much was there. Since then the story just got stranger and bigger, and in going back at the end of last year I uncovered a real-life drama that took me in directions I never could have expected.”

We can’t wait to see the inimitable Louis Theroux uncover yet another layer of intrigue with his seemingly innocent inquiries.


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