The BBC has announced that world-renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough is to present Blue Planet II, the brand new seven-part landmark series from the multi-award winning BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit, which will be broadcast later this year on BBC Earth. Twenty years ago, a team of wildlife film makers from the BBC’s Natural History Unit set out to make a series on the world’s oceans, the breadth and scale of which had never been seen before. Broadcast in 2001, the multi award-winning The Blue Planet, presented by Sir David Attenborough, cemented the Unit’s peerless reputation for underwater filming.
Now, a generation on, the NHU has returned to these underwater worlds for Blue Planet II, with even more ambitious filming and a fresh cast of extraordinary aquatic animals, spending some four years filming off every continent, and in all of the earth’s oceans, to immerse the audience in some of the most expansive but least known parts of our planet. Blue Planet II explores the latest frontiers of scientific discovery, from icy-white polar seas to vibrant blues of the coral atolls, from the storm-tossed green Atlantic coastline to the black depths of the alien deep.
Viewers will encounter surprising new landscapes such as methane volcanoes which erupt in the Gulf of Mexico; and the so-called “Boiling Sea” phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean. And by taking two manned submersibles to explore the Antarctic deep at 1000m for the very first time, the series will bring a “new world” to the audience. Astonishing new creatures, including hairy-chested Hoff crabs; snub fin dolphins that spit water through the air; and a tool-using tusk fish, have been filmed for the first time, and the crew was able to capture some extraordinary examples of behaviour, such as sophisticated hunting between a coral grouper and a reef octopus; giant trevally that catch flying birds in mid-air; and a dive with a sperm whale mother and calf, as she heads deep into the abyss to hunt.
The series’ camera teams have worked off every continent, and across every ocean, often in collaboration with marine scientists. They have developed new filming technologies, including UHD ‘tow cams’ that allow predatory fish and dolphins to be filmed front-on; UHD suction cams which enable the viewer to ‘travel’ on the back of large creatures such as whale sharks and orcas; and a UHD probe camera that immerses the viewer into the world of miniature marine life. Blue Planet II, a 7×60’ for BBC One, is made by BBC Studios Natural History Unit, co-produced with BBC America, WDR and France Télévisions in partnership with The Open University. It is Executive Produced by James Honeyborne and Series Produced by Mark Brownlow, and was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Controller of TV Content and iPlayer and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual.