Take a cross-country flight over Ireland's natural wonders and ancient ruins. In this spectacular overview of the historically significant Emerald Isle, we explore the sites, the people, and the milestones of this unique gem of Western Europe.
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.
Attenborough describes the course the Amazon, starting high up in the Andes of Peru, whose streams flow into the great river. Young rivers are by nature vigorous and dangerous: they flow fast and form rapids, thick with mud and sediment.
Spy Pup is immersed in wild dog life to explore their maternal love, and Spy Penguin records the turbulent action of the mating season, as a male Adelie penguin falls victim to a pebble thief that ruins his chances of love for the season. Spy Tortoise and Spy Bushbaby keep watch on chimpanzees, while in perhaps the most moving scenes; Spy Monkey becomes the focus of attention for a troop of concerned langurs who believe the motionless camera-creature has died.
A seahorse blends perfectly into its coral surroundings, while a male day octopus hides to avoid the female's cannibalistic impulses. Meanwhile, cuttlefish change color to both attract mates and ward off rivals. Explore the Gulf of Oman, a kaleidoscope of color coordination, starring the dazzling masqueraders of the Arabian Sea.
This programme surveys mammal herbivores and their predators. The herbivores began to populate the forests when the dinosaurs disappeared, and many took to gathering food at night. To prepare for winter, some store it in vast quantities, some hibernate and others make do as best they can. However, the carnivores joined them, and when a drying climate triggered the spread of grass, they followed their prey out on to the plains. Grass is not easily digestible and most animals that eat it have to regurgitate it and chew the cud. Out in the open, the leaf-eaters had to develop means of protection.
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.”