Across our planet, there are a handful of places that truly astonish, like Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon and Victoria Falls. These wonders seem to have little in common other than - literally - taking your breath away. But they share one other thing: they pose extraordinary challenges for their inhabitants. The first of two programmes in which cameras explore some of the most inhospitable places on the planet and the people who live there, including a team of Sherpa roping a route on Mount Everest's notorious Khumbu Icefall and, on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, farmers fight pitched battles to save their crops from marauding elephants. In the Amazon rainforest, two boys undergo a rite of passage involving hundreds of ants with the most painful stings on Earth, and conservationists in the Grand Canyon try to ensure the survival of one of America's few surviving condor chicks.
David Attenborough highlights the curiosities that have led to accusations of forgery, but have ultimately helped assist the rethinking of evolution. When early explorers brought the first specimen of a duck-billed platypus to England in 1799, it was considered so bizarre it was deemed a hoax. Similarly, the midwife toad became the centre of a scientific storm in the 1920s that led to accusations of fakery.
The second episode of this unique scientific study reveals the wild side of pet cats. Using GPS trackers and cat cameras, they show how these felines transform from pampered pet to purring predator as soon as they leave the cat flap. Liz Bonnin and some of the world's top cat experts put Ozzy and Smudge under surveillance to find out who is king of the street and reveal why, no matter how hard we try, we can't keep our cats' hunting instincts under control.
From earthquakes to tsunamis to volcanic eruptions, natural disasters are both terrifying and fascinating - providing endless fresh material for documentary makers. But how well do disaster documentaries keep pace with the scientific theories that advance every day? To try and answer that question, Professor Danielle George is plunging into five decades of BBC archive. What she uncovers provides an extraordinary insight into one of the fastest moving branches of knowledge. From the legendary loss of Atlantis to the eruption that destroyed Pompeii, Danielle reveals how film-makers have changed their approach again and again in the light of new scientific theories. While we rarely associate Britain with major natural disaster, at the end of the programme Danielle brings us close to home, exploring programmes which suggest that 400 years ago Britain was hit by a tidal wave that killed hundreds of people, and that an even bigger tsunami could threaten us again.