Who doesn’t like Sir David Attenborough? I grew up watching his documentaries alongside my parents, and I am always happy whenever I hear he has a new series coming out. Over his decades of activity, the 95-year-old has done so much to bring all of us closer to nature, to the point where watching a nature documentary without his narration feels wrong somehow. And with his new documentary mini-series, The Green Planet, currently out, I thought it would be a nice idea to go through some of his more recent or more recognisable work. So, in no particular order, here they are:
Planet Earth and Planet Earth II
The first Planet Earth was, at the time of its release back in 2006, the most expensive nature documentary ever commissioned, and it certainly got its fair recognition for the 5-year work that was put into it. With 11 episodes, each centered around a different type of location, the series paid homage to nature and its great curiosities. Nothing could really top it, until Planet Earth II that is. Released 10 years later in 2016, it has since remained the #1 best rated TV series of all time on IMDb – with a slightly reduced span of episodes, but even more depth and cutting-edge technology.
The Blue Planet and Blue Planet II
While Planet Earth mostly looks at life on land, The Blue Planet went underwater, in the depths of seas and oceans – much of which still remains unknown to humans to this day. The 2001 series was followed up in 2017 by Blue Planet II, and both have remained reference points in bringing human beings closer to the mysteries of marine life, but also to the impact human activity has on it.
Our Planet is a Netflix production, so in case you haven’t seen it yet, I would definitely encourage you to start up Netflix on your TV and start watching! Each episode focusses on a different habitat, from jungles and forests to frozen worlds and deserts, and all of them are extremely educational with relation to the diversity of life on our planet.
Perhaps not one of the most acclaimed or well known ones, but Life offers very interesting and engaging material on the variety of life on Earth. Each episode centers around a different group of animals: amphibians, mammals, fish, birds, insects, and others. This 2009 documentary series is definitely worth a shot!
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
This is actually a short film, that you can also find on Netflix. When compared to all the other entries on the list, this one is a little different, as its central focus is David Attenborough himself, rather than any specific aspect of the natural world. It’s equally a homage to the great naturalist’s work across the past century, going through his decades of work, but also serving as a reminder of how quickly climate change and uncontrolled human activity can permanently damage our planet.
Frozen Planet delivers exactly what its title promises – an exploration of the coldest areas on earth, the Arctic and Antarctica. The initial episodes present these locations season by season, and then follow up with a deeper dive into their particularities, curiosities, as well as problems that they are increasingly being faced with.
Dynasties takes a more storytelling approach, and instead of presenting snippets of various locations and animals, it handpicks a few scenarios and follows them more closely. It follows the trials and tribulations of five universally recognised species, which are however faced with extinction in many areas in the world: penguins, chimpanzees, lions, painted wolves and tigers.
Seven Worlds, One Planet
This is a really good one! As opposed to the other entries on this list, this series takes a look at nature continent by continent, focusing on the uniqueness of each world, and the common dangers that they are confronted with, each in their own way. Each episode concludes with an environmental challenge, and with the hope that these will be addressed in order to reverse or at least halt some of the damage done by human activity.
Finally, there’s The Hunt. This mini-series from 2015 focusses on the relationship between predators and prey, moving across different habitats, climates and continents. It provides very intriguing insights into just how connected the natural world is, and how important each animal or plant has in the larger ecosystem.