If you have ever wondered what would happen in your own home if you were taken away and everything inside was left to rot, the answer is revealed in this programme which explores the strange and surprising science of decay. For two months, a glass box containing a typical kitchen and garden was left to rot in full public view within Edinburgh Zoo. In this resulting documentary, Dr George McGavin and his team use time-lapse cameras and specialist photography to capture the extraordinary way in which moulds, microbes and insects are able to break down our everyday things and allow new life to emerge from old. Decay is something that many of us are repulsed by, but as the programme shows, it's a process that's vital in nature. And seen in close up, it has an unexpected and sometimes mesmerising beauty.
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 chooses his ten favourite animals that he would most like to save from extinction. From the weird to the wonderful, he picks fabulous and unusual creatures that he would like to put in his 'ark', including unexpected and little-known animals such as the olm, the solenodon and the quoll. He shows why they are so important and shares the ingenious work of biologists across the world who are helping to keep them alive.
Dr Helen Czerski examines the hottest natural phenomena on the planet - lightning. Bolts of lightning five times hotter than the surface of the sun strike our planet over 3 million times every day - and yet we still know little about this deadly force of nature. Now, specialist photography is revealing how lightning travels through the air, high-speed cameras are unlocking the secrets of upward lightning that's triggered by our urban landscapes, and scientific expeditions are capturing rare images of intense electrical discharges over 80 kilometres wide.
Take a journey through majestic primeval forests of the Urals. These protected sites are known for their extremes, where the fine side by side, and giant deer, and giant leviathan, weighing half a ton, and tiny animals. This also, in search of food, make their seasonal raiding Eurasian elk. Unlike other types of elk Eurasian elk live alone, so for the pregnant female elk stress of meeting with other animals usually leads to a fight. As soon as the snow begins to melt in the woods, baring the ground, a lone wolf set out in search of food, not disdaining the frozen remains of animals