Desert Seas • 2011

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Never before has a film crew had such unrestricted access to the wonders of Saudi Arabia's seas. Desert Seas narrated by Sir David Attenborough tells the story of how the peninsula of Arabia transformed from an ocean millions of years ago to the desert it is today.

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Plants

Plants' solutions to life's challenges are as ingenious and manipulative as any animal's. Innovative time-lapse photography opens up a parallel world where plants act like fly-paper, or spring-loaded traps, to catch insects. Vines develop suckers and claws to haul themselves into the rainforest canopy. Every peculiar shape proves to have a clever purpose. The dragon's blood tree is like an upturned umbrella to capture mist and shade its roots. The seed of a Bornean tree has wings so aerodynamic they inspired the design of early gliders. The barrel-shaped desert rose is full of water. The heliconia plant even enslaves a humming bird and turns it into an addict for its nectar.

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As marine life around the world embarks on epic journeys across the planet’s oceans, we discover how ocean traffic, over-fishing and noise pollution could have an impact.

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Amazon

Steve Backshall lifts the lid on an incredible world of intricate relationships and unexpected hardship in the Amazon rainforest, explores the way that the jungle's inhabitants interact, and reveals a hidden secret that might just be what keeps the whole place alive.

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The Linear Oasis

At more than 1,200 miles, the Orange River is the longest in South Africa. Join as we trace its westward journey, bringing to its shores a diverse sample of African wildlife, large and small. From powerful swimming birds like the African darter, to flat lizards who inhabit the granite rocks of the mighty Augrabies Falls, it's the journey of life-bringing water passing through some of the continent's most diverse and dramatic landscapes.

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Termites - The Inner Sanctum

They cannot tolerate sunlight; some of them are even blind. However they are one of the world's most ingenious builders: Termites. They build high-risers that are, relatively speaking, 25 times higher than the Empire State Building in New York. They are the only animals that have managed to build an air-conditioning system without electricity. Their nests are architectural masterpieces that rise up to eight meters from the ground and contain brood chambers for larvae, corridors for transportation and fungal gardens for nutrition. Termites - The Inner Sanctum takes us along a journey into another world. Visit the skillfully built termite mounds in the savannah, termite nests in the tropical rainforest with their colossal columns of termites foraging for food - and the termites that wreak terrible damage to wood-framed homes. Filmed in the US, Kenya and Borneo.

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Life and Death

Life and Death explores the impact of Darwin’s ideas on our understanding of the meaning of extinction and the interconnections between all life on earth and the environment. Darwin learned many lessons from the giant fossils of extinct animals he found in Argentina and Chile. He eventually revealed to us the unpalatable truth that the logical conclusion to evolution is not perfection but extinction. The extinction of one species creates an environmental niche for new species to fill. Darwin’s theory also gives us vital knowledge we can use to help prolong the existence of our species by respecting the interconnections between all elements of the natural world and the environment. It’s a story in which Darwin’s ideas are taken up with great enthusiasm by his followers throughout the 20th century. But humanity misses one opportunity after another to acknowledge and reduce its destructive impact on the planet. As a result we have set in motion the sixth mass extinction of life on earth. And we are running out of time to do something about it by preserving ecological "hotspots" like certain rainforests which are some of the most productive cradles of evolution. This programme is a warning, but also a celebration, of the knowledge Charles Darwin gave us in his theory of evolution. It confirms that Darwin’s theory continues to inform our understanding of ourselves, our planet and the intricate interconnections between all life on earth.

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