BBC One announces Big Blue Live

I think the BBC’s Natural History Unit is the finest in the world and combining my love of live television and bringing the outdoors into our homes, this is an adventure that I can't wait to start. It's a super team and with a cast of whales, sharks, sea otters and other amazing creatures, it'll be a thrilling watch.Matt Baker
Date: 07.05.2015     Last updated: 07.05.2015 at 13.22
Category: BBC One; Factual
Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History & Specialist Factual Formats, today announce Big Blue Live, a three-part live television event from the BBC’s Natural History Unit, co-produced by PBS.

This summer, Matt Baker, Liz Bonnin, Steve Backshall and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will present this three-part series live from Monterey Bay, California, host to one of the biggest wildlife gatherings in the oceans.

Matt Baker says: “I’m so excited about this. I think the BBC’s Natural History Unit is the finest in the world and combining my love of live television and bringing the outdoors into our homes, this is an adventure that I can't wait to start. It's a super team and with a cast of whales, sharks, sea otters and other amazing creatures, it'll be a thrilling watch. We will bring you everything we can during our time there and capture some incredible moments that viewers would never normally see.”

Charlotte Moore says: "In this ambitious television first, BBC One will take viewers on an extraordinary oceanic journey and get up close and personal with marine life above and beneath the water. It promises to be an unmissable live TV event showcasing a spectacular display of sea creatures rarely seen in such close proximity."

Tom McDonald says: “I’m thrilled to be commissioning the Natural History Unit to produce this ambitious live series for BBC One. With a fantastic line-up of presenters in a unique location on the California coast, we will bring the UK audience closer than ever before to some of our most extraordinary marine life, giving them a ringside seat over a week in August to one of the greatest animal gatherings on Earth.”

James Honeyborne, Executive Producer, says: “The giants are returning. Join us live, as we celebrate the unique gathering of sea creatures at Monterey Bay - one of the most exciting and inspiring places on the planet."

Each year, some of the world’s most spectacular marine animals, including blue whales, humpback whales, elephant seals, dolphins, sea otters and great white sharks gather off the coast of Monterey Bay.

Many of the animals will make long and difficult migrations to reach the bay, counting on a glut of fish and plankton as their reward. Some won’t survive the journey and if they do reach their destination safely, the feast isn’t guaranteed. Which animals will arrive this year and will there be enough food to sustain them?

This vast gathering is also a cause for celebration because many of these animals were once hunted to the brink of extinction. Now, along the Californian Coast, the hunting has stopped and the seas are protected; the team will investigate this inspiring success story and find out possible ways to safeguard the future of all our seas.

Matt will host the show live from Monterey Bay Aquarium, with Liz. He will be eye to eye with some of the cutest wildlife live, and will explore the animals and spectacle of Monterey Bay and meet some of the inspirational people who live and study within this extraordinary location.

Liz will be following the journey that many of the spectacular animals make each year to the bay, as well as delving in to some of the incredible science and explaining how this place works – live.

Steve will be seeking out whales and dolphins and other spectacular wildlife - live from a boat in the middle of the bay.

Hugh will be celebrating arguably the greatest conservation success story in the world, and shows what happens when you give nature a chance.

The team will also be on the lookout for the bay’s biggest visitors – blue whales. The largest animal on the planet can be surprisingly elusive, so the team will take to the air to try and spot them, will join scientists who tag these ocean giants, and will look at how shipping companies and biologists are working together to avoid deadly collisions.

Big Blue Live, 3x60, a BBC Production with PBS distributed by BBC Worldwide, will be executive produced by James Honeyborne and series produced by Adam White for the BBC’s Natural History Unit. Craig Hunter is the commissioning editor. It will transmit on BBC One later this year.

In addition, presenters and crew will be posting news, photos and clips of the action as it happens for Big Blue Live Digital – Never Miss A Moment. If the humpbacks breach, when the blue whales arrive, if the sea otter cub takes his first swim – the viewers will know about it here. They will be joined by scientists and experts from around the bay and up and down the coast. Online, the viewer will be able to get fully involved; wherever they are, they can be a part of the experience.

Notes to Editors

This is one of the first projects under a new multi-year co-production partnership between BBC and PBS, with the two public service broadcasters working together on ambitious new factual programming.

“PBS is excited to work with the BBC to break new ground in science and nature programming with Big Blue Live,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “Viewers can experience and participate in the drama of the ultimate reality show as it unfolds in the natural world.”

Vice President of Programming and Development Bill Gardner and Sr Director of Programming and Development Bill Margol will oversee the project for PBS.

TD