Natural World celebrates 25 years
Natural World, BBC Two's award-winning natural history series,
has been re-commissioned for a further three years in the year
it celebrates its 25th anniversary.
The series, produced by the BBC's world renowned Natural
History Unit, started over 40 years ago in 1967 as The World
About Us, and in 1983 it became Natural World.
mainly one-off in-depth films, the series commissions the very
best individual natural history programmes from BBC producers,
UK independents and top international wildlife filmmakers.
Head of the BBC's Natural History Unit, and former Natural
World editor, Neil Nightingale, said: "By continually
reinventing the way it explores exciting wildlife stories,
Natural World remains as fresh and relevant to audiences today
as when it first started 25 years ago.
"Its quality is as high as ever, with the series regularly
winning British and international awards for its beautiful
filming and compelling stories."
David Attenborough, who commissioned The World About Us, the
pre-cursor to Natural World when he was Controller of BBC Two,
has been very involved with the series.
During its 25-year run
he has narrated 45 episodes and he commented: "I have no doubt
that Natural World is not only the doyen and founding member
of the 50-minute natural history genre but is still the one
with the best and most distinguished record."
The BBC Two series kicks off on 11 November with a
retrospective film about one of the world's most studied
Titus: The Gorilla King follows the story of a 33-year-old
gorilla whose bloodline dates back to the Rwandan gorilla
troupe originally studied by researcher Dian Fossey back in
Forty years on, the programme looks back at the dramatic life
story of this extraordinary animal.
Titus' father was murdered
by poachers in front of him. And he was abandoned by his
mother in the subsequent chaos. His family had disintegrated
and the young Titus should have died.
Using archive footage and testament from the researchers who
followed his progress and continue to observe his life, the
incredible story of Titus' success and survival unfolds.
conservationist Ian Redmond said: "He's an old friend – and I
use the word deliberately.
"I would argue that if you share
97.7 per cent of your DNA with someone, as well as a
relationship based on mutual trust and – if I read him right –
pleasure in each other's company, the term 'friend' feels
The new series of Natural World will continue to astound and
surprise audiences with the diversity and wonder of the
natural world with films on the cuckoo, great white sharks,
crocodiles and snow monkeys, and more exciting programmes
to come over the next three years.
Natural World's Series Editor Tim Martin said: "I'm really
proud that 25 years on Natural World continues to go from
strength to strength, and that the BBC has awarded it a new
three year deal.
"It's vital that we have a strand like this
that brings viewers such detailed and engrossing wildlife
stories from across the world.
"Natural World is important for the health of the wildlife TV
industry – it's a place where we can try out new camera
techniques, new ways of using music or new approaches to
"It's also the place where many of the most
celebrated cameramen and producers cut their teeth."
Notes to Editors
Natural World is the longest-running wildlife
documentary strand on British television.
Originally named The World About Us, the series
started in 1967, commissioned by the then BBC Two controller
David Attenborough, who was expanding the range of colour
programmes on the fledgling channel.
Production duties were shared between the Travel and
Exploration Unit, in London, and Bristol's Natural History
In 1983 the films were narrowed down to natural
history so were produced exclusively by the Natural History
Over the past 25 years there have been 436 episodes of
Each year 17 individual natural history films are
commissioned by the BBC from leading independent wildlife
filmmakers, or produced in-house by the BBC's Natural History
Recent awards include IWFF Missoula – Best of Festival
winner, Snow Leopard: Beyond The Myth (2008); Royal Television
Society Award – Wye: Voices From The Valley (2007) and
Mississippi: Tales Of The Last River Rat (2006); Grierson
Award for Best Science and Nature programme – The Queen Of Trees
David Attenborough has had a huge involvement in
Natural World, both on screen and as a narrator. He presented
The Amber Time Machine, and LOBO-The Wolf That Changed
America, as well as narrating over 45 episodes of Natural
World and The World About Us between 1969 and 2008. In the
25th anniversary series David Attenborough narrates at least a
further two films.
The series editors of Natural World have included Tim
Martin, Mike Gunton, Neil Nightingale, John Sparks, Mike
Salisbury, Andrew Neil and Peter Jones.
Below they give a
selection of some their favourite Natural Worlds –
Tim Martin: series editor from 2003 to date
Mississippi - Tales Of The Last River Rat: "A thought-
provoking portrayal of this river from 'River Rat' Kenny
Salway. The most beautiful photography of any wildlife film
I've seen, combined with an exceptionally poignant soundtrack,
made this an instant classic and multiple-award winner."
Cheetahs - Fast Track to Freedom: "Simon King at his best as
he tries to return two cheetah cubs to the wild, a tale that
started out cute but literally ended in tears when Sambu was
killed by lions. It's wonderful that a natural history film
can affect so many viewers so deeply – I hadn't cried as much
since watching Born Free."
Mike Gunton: series editor from 2001 to 2003
My Halcyon River: "A beautiful film made with incredible
passion by a first-time film maker Charlie Hamilton James.
The use of music set a trend for many subsequent films and the
personal style of storytelling was highly effective."
Meerkats – Part of the Team: "Meerkats are always a challenge
because they are such well-known animals, but this film
succeeded by putting a human – Simon King – into their world.
The way Simon was adopted by the meerkat family and we saw
their relationship develop on screen made for a very charming
Neil Nightingale: series editor from 1997 to 2001 (currently
head of the BBC's Natural History Unit)
Dragons of Galapagos: "Unbelievable stories and photography,
making a compelling film about lizards! It was also the
highest rating Natural World during my time – over five
Dolphins – The Wild Side: "Remarkable behaviour, a completely
different perspective on animals we usually pigeon hole as
harmless and friendly."