It’s sexy time with the arthropods! This week David Attenborough takes a look at the courtship rituals of the creatures beneath our feet. But lovebugs won’t want to take tips from these bugs. The male Chilean rose tarantula, for instance, weaves a silk mat; deposits sperm on it, then sucks that sperm into a finger-like appendage near his mouth before he looks for a mate. Then there’s the gruesome, but surprisingly effective, coupling of praying mantis. The cinematography is as amazing as ever, catching the mating battles of tramp ants and providing luminescent footage of the courtship dance of Tanzanian red claw scorpions.
What makes plants grow is a simple enough question, but the answer turns out to be one of the most complicated and fascinating stories in science and took over 300 years to unravel. Timothy Walker, director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden, reveals how the breakthroughs of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, Chelsea gardener Phillip Miller and English naturalist John Ray created the science of botany. Between them these quirky, temperamental characters unlocked the mysteries of the plant kingdom and they began to glimpse a world where bigger, better and stronger plants could be created. Nurseryman Thomas Fairchild created the world's first artificial hybrid flower - an entirely new plant that didn't exist in nature. Today, botanists continue the search for new flowers, better crops and improved medicines to treat life-threatening diseases.
Andrew Scott narrates a special programme which celebrates winter and explores how animals and plants rise to the challenges it brings. With their world encased in snow and ice, animals must find the most inventive ways to survive and even benefit from the cold. Caribou become ice road travellers as it gets slippery underfoot, stoats make their own fur bedding, and snow monkeys find a warm bath. Emperor penguins are built for the cold weather, but even they must find their own tricks to endure the world's most savage winter.