BBC reveals unprecedented commitment to natural history with announcement of new landmark programmes up to 2022
Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content, has unveiled a series of landmark natural history programmes to take the BBC’s natural history offer into the next decade.
The BBC is world famous for its natural history programming and these new series will raise the bar even higher.
There will be three new series in the globally renowned Planet strand, which have proved hugely popular with audiences. These landmark series will help audiences everywhere to better understand the greatest issues affecting our planet and our relationship with the natural world. They demonstrate the BBC’s unique commitment to natural history programming of the highest quality.
- Perfect Planet will be a unique fusion of blue chip natural history and earth sciences explaining how the living planet operates. This five part series will show how the forces of nature - weather, ocean currents, solar energy and volcanoes - drive, shape and support Earth’s great diversity of life. It will broadcast in 2020
- Frozen Planet II will take audiences back to the wildernesses of the Arctic and Antarctica. Ten years on from the original Frozen Planet, this series tells the complete story of the entire frozen quarter of our planet that’s locked in ice and blanketed in snow. It will broadcast in 2021
- Planet Earth III will be the most ambitious natural history landmark ever undertaken by the BBC. Combining the awe and wonder of the original Planet Earth, the new science and discoveries of Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II, and the immersive character-led storytelling of Dynasties, the series will take the Planet Earth experience to new heights. It will broadcast in 2022
These three series will be in addition to the previously announced One Planet: Seven Worlds (transmitting 2019) and Green Planet (transmitting 2021).
Since the launch of Planet Earth in 2006, the BBC Planet titles have become a huge global hit and over a billion people have watched Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II in the last three years. This new five-strong slate is expected to involve over 10,000 days of filming - and will tell a truly global story.
Alongside the latest addition to the Planet series the BBC is also announcing three further natural history commissions that demonstrate the range and breadth of the BBC’s Natural History commissioning.
The Mating Game for BBC Two will show the greatest challenge of all - finding a mate; whilst Primates for BBC One is an in-depth look at the most charismatic family in the animal kingdom, the one to which we all belong. And Earth’s Paradise Islands, for BBC Two, will take viewers to mysterious and exotic islands of Madagascar, Borneo and Hawaii.
Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content, says: “The BBC is world famous for its natural history programming and these new series will raise the bar even higher. We know that audiences want shows that bring them the richest narratives, the best camerawork and the highest quality production values and they look to us to deliver this. Viewers around the globe have been captivated by the incredible stories that the Planets series have told and now new technology allow us to explore even more of the natural world than ever before.
“We’re also announcing three new series that will look in depth at specific aspects of the natural world, giving revealing and sometimes surprising insights to animals and the habitats they live in. It’s our biggest ever commitment to natural history and one we are proud of.”
Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual, says: “Planet Earth II, Blue Planet II and most recently Dynasties reinvented landmark natural history at BBC - delivering record breaking global audiences and receiving awards around the world.
“These new titles reveal the scale of our ambitions in natural history - with a rich and innovative pipeline of titles up to 2022: the biggest commitment we have ever made in the genre.
“Alongside new titles such as The Mating Game and Primates, I'm delighted to be bringing the long awaited Frozen Planet back to our screens a decade after the first series was on air, and of course thrilled that Planet Earth will be back in the BBC's centenary year. Both will continue our pledge to reveal not just the world's greatest wonders and animal behaviour but reflect the very real challenges the natural world faces.”
Planet Earth is perfect. It orbits at the perfect distance from the sun; it tilts at just the right angle and has a decent sized moon to hold it in place. On top of that, the day-to-day workings of the planet naturally serve to nurture animals and plants. For instance, a global weather system circulates and distributes fresh water to all corners, and a cycle of marine currents delivers nutrients to even the deepest reaches of the ocean. As a result, there is literally no corner of our planet where life can’t be found.
Perfect Planet - in a unique fusion of blue chip natural history and earth sciences - explains how the living planet operates. This five part series will show how the forces of nature - weather, ocean currents, solar energy and volcanoes - drive, shape and support Earth’s great diversity of life. In doing so, it will reveal how animals are perfectly adapted to whatever the environment throws at them.
From the white wolves of Ellesemere Island to bears in Kamchatka; vampire finches of the Galapagos to golden snub-nosed monkeys of China, the series will combine a global view of the planet from space with intimate animal stories from the most spectacular habitats. From the Indian Monsoon to Hawaiian volcanoes; tidal islands of the Bahamas to the extremes of the Arctic winter, Perfect Planet will take the audience on a stunning visual journey that will change the way we see our home.
The final episode in the series looks at the dramatic impact of the world’s newest global force of nature - humans - and reveals what we need to do to in order to halt the dramatic loss of biodiversity
Perfect Planet, a 5x60’ for BBC One, is made by Silverback Films, co-produced by Tencent Penguin Pictures, France Télévisions and The Open University. The Executive Producer is Alastair Fothergill, and the Series Producer is Huw Cordey. It was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content, and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. It will tx in 2020.
Frozen Planet II
Back in 2011 the BBC aired Frozen Planet, the massively popular natural history series, celebrating life in our Poles. Ten years on, Frozen Planet II tells the complete story of the entire frozen quarter of our planet that’s locked in ice and blanketed in snow.
In this epic six-part series we explore this vast magical realm and discover frozen worlds of surprising variety and nature. From the frozen ocean of the Arctic, to the snowy forests and great plains of the far north, from the high-altitude peaks of our mountains to the ice-locked south of Antarctica. These are the last true wildernesses - so challenging for survival, that only a heroic cast of animals can live here. From polar bears to Siberian tigers, snow monkeys and penguins, each frozen world raises different challenges for the animals that brave the extreme conditions here.
Today they are united by a new threat. As temperatures rise at an unprecedented rate, our frozen planet is literally vanishing before our eyes. What will be the true impact on humans and wildlife? In this series we will follow the heroic scientists, braving some of the most dangerous places on earth, in a bid to find the answers.
With intimate new character stories, dramatic new behaviours and never-seen-before spectacles: Blue Planet II goes Frozen.
Frozen Planet II, a 6x60’ for BBC One, is made by BBC Studios Natural History Unit, co-produced by BBC America and The Open University. The Executive Producer is Mark Brownlow and the Series Producer is Elizabeth White. It was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. It will tx in 2021.
Planet Earth III
Planet Earth III, the third in a trilogy, is a brand new series for 2022 – set to be the most ambitious natural history landmark ever undertaken by the BBC. Combining the awe and wonder of the original Planet Earth, the new science and discoveries of Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II, and the immersive character-led storytelling of Dynasties, the series will take the Planet Earth experience to new heights. It will take audiences to stunning new landscapes, showcase jaw-dropping newly-discovered behaviours, and follow the intense struggles of some of our planet’s most amazing animals.
Across eight episodes, the series will have a truly global scale, with new technology central to its approach. Crews will spend longer in the field than ever before, and using the latest technology, including robotic cameras, stabilised rigs and deep submersibles, will take viewers from the highest mountains to the deepest oceans, from the darkest caves to the hottest deserts.
Planet Earth III will also build on the approach of the BBC Studios Natural History Unit’s most recent landmarks, by reflecting the new realities of the natural world. It will not only reveal the greatest wonders of life on earth, but will also show the new challenges faced in the 21st Century by the animals and plants with which we share our increasingly fragile planet.
Planet Earth III, an 8x60’ series for BBC One, is made by BBC Studios Natural History Unit, co-produced by BBC America and The Open University. The Executive Producer is Mike Gunton and the Series Producer is Jonny Keeling. It was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. It will tx in 2022.
Following on from the success of Big Cats, Primates is the definitive portrait of a hugely charismatic family of animals, to which we all belong.
From deserts to jungles, grasslands to bustling cities the series will reveal the huge variety of stunning landscapes primates are found in. A surge in primate research is revealing a new side to these intriguing animals, whilst the latest developments in camera technologies will enable us to film primates in sensational new ways.
Apes, monkeys and lemurs are all primates, with over 400 hundred species, found in every conceivable habitat, this is one of the most important and fascinating animal families on the planet. Primates come in a staggering variety of shapes and sizes - from colossal gorillas to finger sized lemurs. They’re lives are full of drama and intrigue. Primates are tool users, problem solvers and political animals. They’re emotional, thoughtful and caring. They fascinate us, because we are one of them.
Primates are facing an uncertain future; over half of the family are endangered. The third episode will showcase the hands on science behind the stories - heroic efforts to understand and conserve primates, highlighting the huge passion people have for these captivating animals.
Primates, a 3x60’ for BBC One, is made by BBC Studios Natural History Unit, co-produced by PBS. The Executive Producer is Mike Gunton and the Series Producer is Gavin Boyland. It was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content, and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. It will tx in 2020.
The Mating Game
The Mating Game (w/t) is an often dramatic and sometimes hilarious landmark series about the greatest challenge of all - attracting a partner. Nearly every species has its own strategy - some choose to fight, others to pursue, whilst others create a song and dance about it. If you get your strategy wrong, the consequences can be life threatening, but if you get it right, you have a chance at the ultimate prize - genetic immortality.
Each habitat provides a different challenge - how do creatures perform on the wide-open Grasslands when all their competitors can see their strategy? How do animals stand out in the crowded dating scene of the Jungle? What happens when your breeding timings are determined by the ephemeral nature of Freshwater? And how does marine life begin to even find a mate in the vast world of the Oceans?
The right strategy is often one of perspective. This series will tell stories from both the female and male points of view, taking a fresh look at who really is in charge when it comes to choosing the right partner.
Filmed in ground-breaking 8K resolution, The Mating Game (w/t) will combine the best in wildlife cinematography with dramatic and comedic narratives to tell the myriad of ways life attempts to win the one game that connects us all - that of finding a mate.
The Mating Game (w/t), a 5x60’ series for BBC Two, is made by Silverback Films. The Executive Producer is Alastair Fothergill and the Series Producer is Jeff Wilson. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. It will tx in 2021.
Following on from the success of BBC Two’s acclaimed Earth’s Great Rivers, we now journey to three of the world’s most exotic, mysterious and remote islands: Madagascar, Borneo and Hawaii.
Lush ferny forests, jewel coloured reefs and white sandy beaches harbour an extraordinary cast of castaways and pioneers. In these magical worlds, life rules are rewritten, characters are otherworldly and evolution is on overdrive.
In this three-part blue chip series we discover the ancient island of Madagascar; isolated since the time of the dinosaurs, its spiny forests are harsh territory for wondrous leaping lemurs.
We enter the lost world of Borneo, home to pot-bellied proboscis monkeys. Deep within its steaming jungle competition drives unparalleled diversity in a real-life ‘hunger games’.
And in the heart of the Pacific Ocean the brave new worlds of Hawaii, the youngest and remotest island archipelago of all, are revealed. Hosting bizarre carnivorous caterpillars, here the improbability of arrival has been the greatest challenge of all.
Using the latest technologies in filming, the beauty and strangeness of these incredible islands is revealed. Some of the toughest drone filming ever attempted follows 300 million hawk-dodging bats and captures unique canopy eye views of the Bornean jungles. We dive in to deep flooded caves to reveal fossilized giants, and use split level cameras to join humpback mothers and calves in the shelter of tropical bays.
On these isolated islands human cultures can be as strange as the wildlife. In Borneo we meet the Bajau who have evolved into record-breaking breath-hold divers.
And as modern pressures finally catch up with our fragile paradises, we’ll discover how island life and culture is rising to the challenge.
Earth’s Paradise Islands, a 3x60’ for BBC Two, is made by BBC Studios Natural History Unit, co-produced by PBS. The Executive Producer is Mark Brownlow and the Series Producer is Kathryn Jeffs. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Tom Coveney.