Hidden Kingdoms

...watching these incredible, intelligent, agile, surviving creatures in a world that is just below our feet, for all I know I have trodden on some of these things unwittingly and I shall look a little more carefully every time I tread now.”Stephen Fry
Date: 10.12.2013     Last updated: 25.03.2014 at 13.21
Hidden Kingdoms is an innovative new series from the BBC's Natural History Unit. For the first time it takes the viewer into a unique and unexplored miniature world, immersing you into the action-packed lives of the planet's smaller animals.

Stephen Fry, the programme's narrator, says: “It’s almost impossible to decide whether nature is more miraculous in miniature or giant form. Whales and dolphins have always fascinated me and to be able to voice the extraordinary series Ocean Giants gave me immense pleasure, but now my mind is a little turned and twisted because watching these incredible, intelligent, agile, surviving creatures in a world that is just below our feet, for all I know I have trodden on some of these things unwittingly and I shall look a little more carefully every time I tread now.”

The films are based in six of the planet’s most iconic landscapes: the open plains of Africa’s savannah, Arizona’s desert, the forests of Borneo, the woodlands of north America and the urban jungles of Rio and Tokyo.

We’ll experience and see these habitats from a new visual perspective. Pushing between blades of grass will feel like journeying deep into the densest jungle, while running from a hunting lizard will feel like a visit to Jurassic Park.

This is a different approach to a traditional wildlife series. Based entirely on real behaviour, it employs a unique range of filming techniques and constructed storytelling to recreate these animals' own distinctive perspectives and to illustrate the dynamism of their lives.

From chipmunks to beetles, from marmosets to elephant shrews, these are animals who live life at an intensity that’s hard to imagine. They hunt food, but are themselves hunted; they face the forces of the world that, to them, can be catastrophic. When you are just a few inches tall, raindrops can feel like meteorites, dust stings like gravel, a sudden gust of wind feels like a tornado and a sudden rainstorm - that to us is nothing more than a nuisance - releases raging torrents that can wash away an animal’s home in seconds.

To a little creature, almost every other animal becomes a giant that can change or even destroy their hidden kingdom. A migrating herd of wildebeest shakes the ground like an earthquake, leaving a tiny creature spinning in dust. A pile of elephant dung is like a mountain instantly blocking their path.

We’ll understand how these animals are adapted to cope with life in these miniature worlds, revealing how they use their impressive senses and powers of speed, strength and agility to survive.

Entering their world means a shift in the perception of time too - the pace of life can be very different: if a sengi doesn’t eat for three hours, it could die; a chipmunk fight is over in a second; the reactions of a grasshopper mouse are faster than a scorpion strike. Their lives are short but full of incident.

The remarkable abilities and strategies of the tiniest creatures often escape notice until the Hidden Kingdoms cameras get close to the action. Ultra high-speed cameras show how the world looks when you possess lightning-fast reflexes, and time-lapse reveals the slowest of events - toadstools sprout in autumn from the forest floor, hoar frost encrusts a dragonfly, and stars rotate in the moonlit skies of the Sonoran Desert.

This is a world that has been waiting to be explored - the challenges our planet's mini creatures face are daunting, their solutions are always surprising and often defy belief. Prepare to be amazed, entertained and fascinated by the world’s Hidden Kingdoms.

FF