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BBC’s Natural History Unit embraces “The Dark”

UK public broadcaster the BBC has unveiled four new projects in the works from its Natural History Unit, including The Dark, a series that uses military night filming technology to look at nocturnal creatures.
July 8, 2011

UK public broadcaster the BBC has unveiled four new projects in the works from its Natural History Unit (NHU), including The Dark, a series that uses military night filming technology to look at nocturnal creatures.

The project, slated to air on terrestrial channel BBC2, promises to bring viewers “an exciting new perspective on the nocturnal activities of animals,” with the NHU crew “wading through piranha-filled rivers, braving shark-infested waters and squeezing into the narrowest, snake-ridden caves.”

The 3 x 60-minute series is scheduled to air next year, and the executive producer is Tim Martin, with Jonny Keeling the series producer.

Also for BBC2 is Wild Arabia (3 x 60 minutes), which promises to take the audience “on a romantic journey into the very heart of a lost world.” Among the highlights for this series will be the first HD images to be captured of a wild Arabian leopard. Scheduled for 2013, the executive and series producer is Brian Leith.

The channel will also look at the minutiae of life and the interdependence of species’ relationships in How Life Works (4 x 60 minutes), which is scheduled for spring 2012.

The series sees author and nature photographer Chris Packham looking at, for example, why the tiny termite needs the rhino and why the shark needs the tiger. The exec producer is Martin, with Paul Bradshaw the series producer.

Finally, terrestrial flagship channel BBC1 is planning Survival, a major six-part series for 2014 that will uncover the life stories of some of the world’s most unusual animals. The series promises “stunning landscapes, cinematic filming techniques and closely observed behavior captured on tiny remote mini-cameras.”

It is exec produced by Mike Gunton, with Rupert Barrington the series producer.

Kim Shillinglaw, the BBC’s commissioning editor for science and natural history, said: “The range of subjects we are exploring in this new raft of natural history programs will hopefully provide something for everyone.

“From BBC1′s epic series Survival to the deeper dive offered by the likes of Wild Arabia and How Life Works on BBC2, I hope viewers across the board will find something to satisfy their curiosity about the natural world.”

Andrew Jackson, head of the BBC’s NHU, added: “After almost 60 years of natural history filming you would think there were few places and subjects left for us to cover.

“The diversity of these new programs proves that, thanks to the Unit’s vast experience and expertise, coupled with some staggering new advances in technology, we can continue to surprise and delight our audiences.

The Dark is a prime example of how filmmakers have harnessed the latest in military technology to give viewers a unique insight into animal behavior at night. I’m very excited to see what they uncover.”

About The Author
Meagan Kashty is an associate editor of realscreen, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Meagan is an award-winning business journalist. Prior to joining the realscreen team, Meagan was online editor of Canadian Grocer, named Magazine of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Business Media Awards. She can be reached at mkashty@brunico.com, and you can follow her on Twitter @MegKashty

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