The Sky Above • 1984 • episode "7/12" The Living Planet

Category: Nature

Starts in NASA's gravity research aircraft to illustrate the effect of weightlessness. There are surprisingly many plants whose seeds are, in effect, lighter than air.

The Living Planet • 1984 • 12 episodes •

The Building of the Earth

Visits the world's deepest valley: the Kali Gandaki river in the Himalayas. Its temperatures range from those of the tropics in its lower reaches to that of the poles higher up. It therefore shows how creatures become adapted to living in certain environments.

1984 • Nature

The Frozen World

Describes the inhospitable habitats of snow and ice. Mount Rainier in America is an example of such a place: there is no vegetation, therefore no herbivores and thus no carnivores. However, beneath its frosty surface, algae grow and some insects, such as ladybirds visit the slopes. Africa’s mountains are permanently snow-covered, and beneath peaks such as Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, there are communities of plants and animals.

1984 • Nature

The Northern Forests

Begins in northern Norway, 500 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. Here, there is only just enough light for the pine trees to survive, but it is extremely cold during the winter. Pine cone seeds provide one of the few foods available at this time of year, and large herbivores such as the moose must also rely on their fat reserves.

1984 • Nature


Ascends a kapok in the South American tropical rainforest to observe "the greatest proliferation of life that you can find anywhere on the surface of the Earth. There are two main causes for this: warmth and wetness. As this climate is constant, there are no seasons, so trees vary greatly in their flowering cycles.

1984 • Nature

Seas of Grass

Explores the grasses which are present all over the world. Grass sustains huge numbers of creatures the world over, particularly in the African grasslands, where huge numbers of savannah animals have made their homes.

1984 • Nature

The Baking Deserts

Starts in the Sahara, where the highest land temperatures have been recorded. Rock paintings depict creatures such as giraffes and antelopes, suggesting that at one point there was enough vegetation to support them.

1984 • Nature

The Sky Above

Starts in NASA's gravity research aircraft to illustrate the effect of weightlessness. There are surprisingly many plants whose seeds are, in effect, lighter than air.

1984 • Nature

Sweet Fresh Water

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.

1984 • Nature

The Margins of the Land

Details coastal environments and the effect of tides, of which the highest can be found in the Bay of Fundy in North America. In places, erosion is causing the land to retreat, while in others — such as the tropics — the expansion of mangroves causes it to advance.

1984 • Nature

Worlds Apart

Investigates remote islands and their inhabitants. Some islands are tips of volcanoes; others are coral atolls. Those that colonise them transform into new species with comparative speed.

1984 • Nature

The Open Ocean

Attenborough goes underwater to observe the ocean's life forms and comment on them at first hand.

1984 • Nature

New Worlds

Surveys those environments that have been created by and for humans.

1984 • Nature

You might also like

My Octopus Teacher

A filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world.

2020 • Nature

Tropical Worlds

More kinds of plants are crammed together in the tropical rainforests than anywhere else on Earth. The result is astonishing beauty and intense competition - a plant battleground. New filming techniques allow us to enter the plants’ world and see it from their perspective and on their timescale. From fast-growing trees to flowers that mimic dead animals, this is a journey into a magical world that operates on a different timescale to our own.

S1E1The Green Planet • 2022 • Nature

The British Garden: Life and Death on Your Lawn

The British back garden is a familiar setting, but underneath the peonies and petunias is a much wilder hidden world, a miniature Serengeti, with beauty and brutality in equal measure. Chris Packham and a team of wildlife experts spend an entire year exploring every inch of a series of interlinked back gardens in Welwyn Garden City. They want to answer a fundamental question: how much wildlife lives beyond our back doors? How good for wildlife is the great British garden? Through all four seasons, Chris reveals a stranger side to some of our more familiar garden residents. In summer he meets a very modern family of foxes - with a single dad in charge - and finds that a single fox litter can have up to five different fathers. In winter he shows that a robin's red breast is actually war paint. And finally, in spring he finds a boiling ball of frisky frogs in a once-in-a-year mating frenzy. The secret lives of the gardens' smallest residents are even weirder. The team finds male crickets that bribe females with food during sex, spiders that change colour to help catch prey, and life-and-death battles going on under our noses in the compost heap. So how many different species call our gardens home? How well do our gardens support wildlife? By the end of the year, with the help of a crack team from London's Natural History Museum and some of the country's top naturalists, Chris will find out. He'll also discover which type of garden attracts the most wildlife. The results are not what you might expect... You'll never look at your garden in quite the same way again.

2017 • Nature

Water Kingdoms

Argentina's northern territory contains one of the largest reserves in the country. Ibera is a vast expanse of swamps, marshes and lagoons, with a biodiversity count to rival the Pantanal. These lands are bursting with life, home to over 4000 animal and plant species. The rainy season in Ibera finds the wetlands in bloom... but unseen perils lurk beneath the surface, and even here, life can be a struggle for survival.

S1E3Wild Argentina • 2017 • Nature

The Giant

In the misty and lush tropical forest surrounding South Africa's Soutpansberg Mountains, a 600-year-old outeniqua yellowwood tree reigns supreme. It's 115 feet tall, and a source of food and shelter for an array of plants and animals. Crowned eagles construct massive nests in her fold, and Samango monkeys take refuge in her branches. As if it wasn't unique enough, this ancient, endangered tree has no flowers, instead reproducing through male and female cones-a marvel of the natural world, and a true South African treasure.

3/5Rooted • 2018 • Nature

Mexico Part II

Going down into these narrow flooded passageways is not for the faint-hearted but, with only an estimated one percent of the caves explored, it is an opportunity for the team to write themselves into cave diving history, by pushing further in than anyone has before. This is a challenge that tests even the most accomplished cave divers. Steve must face the terrors of being lost in an underwater silt cloud in a cave. But there is a bigger issue at stake. All life in the Yucatan depends on the fresh water in this network of caves, but it's being contaminated by human development. With every metre the team maps, it adds to the knowledge of the system, which, in turns, helps protect it for future generations.

Undiscovered Worlds with Steve Backshall • 2019 • Nature