The BBC has unveiled a 50-hour slate of natural history programs, with new titles including Dolphin: Spy in the Pod and Kangaroo Dundee, as well as sequels to landmark series The Blue Planet (pictured) and Planet Earth.
Leading the slate will be the 6 x 60-minutes series Oceans (not to be confused with the Disneynature natural history title of the same name). The show will air on flagship terrestrial channel BBC1 and the exec producer is James Honeyborne.
The series is billed as a sequel to the BBC’s landmark, award-winning 2001 series The Blue Planet, and will draw on new filming techniques that were not available at the time the original series was shot – such as a gyro-stabilized aerial camera system, remotely operated submarines, 4k digital resolution and new marine tracking techniques.
Meanwhile, 6 x 60-minutes BBC1 series One Planet , exec produced by Vanessa Berlowitz , picks up a decade on from landmark series Planet Earth and promises to show viewers “the game of life as it plays out across Earth’s great wildlife arenas.”
The series will examine the planet “from mountains to deserts, wild islands to man-made cities,” and promises to showcase “the ultimate tour of an iconic ecosystem.”
Both Oceans and One Planet are being made in-house by the BBC’s Natural History Unit (NHU).
Elsewhere, The Hunt (7 x 60-minutes), from UK indie Silverback, promises a fresh look at the battles between predators and prey. “Using character-driven stories, the series will dissect the clever and complex strategies predators use to catch their prey, showing viewers how these are some of the hardest working animals in the natural world,” the BBC promises.
The series will air on BBC1, and is being exec produced by Alastair Fothergill.
Also on the slate for BBC1 is Dolphin: Spy in the Pod (2 x 60-minutes), from John Downer Productions.
A follow-up of sorts to Penguins: Spy in the Huddle (pictured below), the two-parter will use spy-cams disguised as sea creatures – aptly named as Tunacam, Turtlecam, Squidcam and Dolphincam – to secure intimate access and reveal the tender, playful and aggressive sides of dolphins. The two-parter is narrated by David Tennant and the EP is John Downer.
Also in the works is Countdown to the Rains, a 3 x 60-minutes production from Tigress. The fast turnaround series will be shot and transmitted the moment the African dry season ends – one of the most dramatic moments in the calendar of the natural world.
Tigress will use more than 75 cameras to cover everything that happens along a one-mile stretch of African river in the South Luangwa National Park. The special will air on BBC2, and the EP is Dick Colthurst.
Also being planned on the events front is Sleepover at the Zoo, a 90-minute special from Icon Films for BBC4, exec produced by Owen Gay.
The event will see a team of experts stays up all night to track – hour by hour – the diverse sleep patterns of a host of different animals, including meerkats, bats and flamingos, across 12 hours at Bristol Zoo in England.
Other titles on the BBC’s slate include Big Weather (3 x 60-minutes, BBC1), which looks at the most extreme weather experiences in the natural world; Tiger in the House (3 x 60-minutes, BBC2), which looks at the extreme lengths one zoologist is going to in a bid to protect the fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild; and Kangaroo Dundee (6 x 30-minutes, BBC2), which follows on from two ‘Natural World’ films focusing on Chris ‘Brolga’ Barnes, who rescues orphan baby kangaroos.
Also in the works is Talk to the Animals (2 x 60-minutes, BBC1), which follows Lucy Cooke as she explores the ways that animals communicate; and Alaska, Japan, Patagonia, New Zealand (12 x 60-minutes, BBC2), a series promising stunning photography and breakout stories from four corners of the globe.
Kim Shillinglaw, the British pubcaster’s head of commissioning for natural history and science, said: “At the BBC, we’re determined to bring ever more ambition to our natural history programs. By using new filming techniques, peerless research and great storytelling, the next few years are all about shows that will delight our UK and global audiences.
“From new discoveries in Oceans and never-before-filmed behavior in The Hunt, to assembling 75 cameras in one place for Countdown to the Rains and the ground-breaking spirit of our Sleepover at the Zoo event, we’ve never had as much range, scale and innovation to offer.”