Svalbard in the Arctic spends many months of the year in complete darkness, an unrelenting frozen winter with temperatures down to -40 Celsius. But when the sun finally reappears, the landscape magically transforms from an ice world into a rich tundra, full of exotic plants, birds, arctic foxes, polar bears, walrus and reindeer. This film captures the changes in all their glory and reveals how this transformation is only possible thanks to some bizarre micro-organisms that feed on ice and the stunning abilities of migrating birds.
Making of David Attenborough’s Galapagos, which is aired first, offers an unrivalled and actually far more interesting view of the dramas that went into capturing all that footage. The way all the shots have been so calmly edited together makes the process look so effortless, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are broken helicopters and broken camera cables that threaten the whole enterprise and the grunting of mating tortoises that threaten to drown out Attenborough’s pieces to camera. This making of programme also includes the discovery of a previously unknown species of pink iguana, as well as the final television appearance of the last-remaining member of another species – the iconic long-necked tortoise known as Lonesome George. “He’s about 80 years old and he’s getting a bit creaky in his joints,” whispers Attenborough. “As indeed am I.”
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 second of two documentaries profiling some of the world's most expansive - and inhospitable - landscapes, and the people who live there. A fisherman in Zambia faces off against crocodiles and risks being swept to his death as he tries to make a living above the imposing Victoria Falls, and in the Amazon, a giant fish offers salvation to a hungry family that calls the river home. A boy's future hangs on the outcome of a single horse race in the vast grasslands of the Steppe, and in a European salt marsh, a young man duels with a savage bull in a centuries-old battle of wills.
With the help of some surprising creatures from around the world, this series sets out to discover how animals take to the air, defying the force all airborne animals must conquer, gravity. Part 3: Crowded Skies This episode features a creature that creates sound out of thin air with the world's fastest courtship display and arguably the world's most aggressive bird. In a South American jungle, there's 'hunt and evasion' flying during the night, as bats and moths fight for the upper hand in one of the world's oldest arms races. Plus a camera films a giant flock to unlock the secrets that keep half a million birds from colliding in the same air space.
Remote islands offer sanctuary for some of the planet's strangest and rarest creatures. The rare pygmy three-toed sloth enjoys a peaceful existence on an idyllic Caribbean island, while nesting albatross thrive in predator-free isolation. But island life always comes at a cost. On the Galapagos Islands, young marine iguana must escape an onslaught of deadly racer snakes the moment they hatch from the sand. On the sub-Antarctic island of Zavodovski, life gets more extreme still. Every day, one and a half million penguins risk being battered against the rocks by fierce waves as they try to get on and off the island.