As Sir David Attenborough turns 90, this intimate film presents new interviews, eye-opening behind-the-scenes footage and extraordinary clips from some of his most recent films. The doc, which was made for the occasion of Attenborough’s 90th birthday, was shot over seven years and follows him as he travels to Borneo, Morocco and the Galapagos to shoot wildlife specials. Geffen, the CEO of Atlantic Productions, commented, “This is such a special Attenborough film because unusually he is the subject. As I look back over the last seven years, I never fail to be amazed by his extraordinary ambition and drive to use the very latest technology to communicate the natural world to audiences around the globe. This film gives audiences the chance to see what it’s like to be on the road with David.”
2016 • Nature
The second episode of Andrew Marr's exploration of Darwin explores the impact of Darwin’s ideas on society and politics. Darwin’s first port of call on the Beagle was Salvador in Brazil – then a major port for the international slave trade. His experience there confirmed his enlightenment views of liberty and progress and his hatred of slavery. But his theory of evolution that began to take root on that epic voyage would describe a world of conflict, ruthless competition and struggle. It would be taken up and abused by some of the most reactionary movements of the late-19th and 20th centuries. The phrase “survival of the fittest” would help propel Darwin’s theory as a scientific justification for eugenics, enforced sterilisation and genocide. But after the Second World War, Darwin’s theory finds redemption in the United Nations statement on race which confirms Darwin’s long-held view that all humans are members of the same race and deserving of equal treatment. This is further reinforced in the extraordinary work of a small Jewish community in New York who used DNA testing and a voluntary and anonymous form of selective breeding to eliminate a debilitating disease from the Jewish community. DNA testing is the final frontier of Darwin’s Dangerous idea. But the lessons from history suggest that the new choices we face about what to do with the knowledge Darwin has given us when combined with genetics and DNA testing remains a major social and political challenge.
The story of animals surviving one of the harshest seasonal changes on the planet continues. As winter turns to spring, temperatures rise and Yellowstone bursts into life. Beavers feast on new green shoots, baby bison take their first faltering steps and grizzly bear cubs emerge from dens to explore this new green world. But spring is also a perilous time. Wolves are hungrier than usual after slim winter pickings. And rising temperatures melt the vast mountain snow pack, sending a million tons of water flooding into the rivers. Only the toughest will survive.
This episode is devoted to the evolution of reptiles. They are not as restricted as their amphibian ancestors, since they can survive in the hottest climates. The reason is their scaly, practically watertight skin. The scales protect the body from wear and tear and in the case of some species of lizard, such as the Australian thorny devil, serve to protect from attack. The horned iguana from the West Indies is also one of the most heavily armoured. The skin is rich in pigment cells, which provide effective means of camouflage, and the chameleon is a well-known example. Temperature control is important to reptiles: they cant generate body heat internally or sweat to keep cool.
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.
This is the story of two young animals forced to grow up fast. In Africa's savannah, a baby elephant shrew learns how speed is the secret to survival amongst the largest animals on Earth; and in America, a young grasshopper mouse confronts the Wild West's deadliest creatures to stake a claim of his own.