Blue Planet Live is swimmings its way onto the BBC this month – just in time to pip its new Netflix rival nature series to the post.
Announced last year, the four-part live programme will build on the success of the Blue Planet franchise, a long-running favourite in British households – Blue Planet II was one of BBC iPlayer’s most popular programmes of 2017, with 4.2 million requests for its first episode, as it gave us a look at never-seen-before footage of life in our seas.
Blue Planet Live spans a week and takes us from the East Coast of the USA to the Bahamas and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Chris Packham, Liz Bonnin and Steve Backshall will present the TV event, which finds out how marine life is coping in the face of increasing environmental pressure.
Episode 1 sees Chris pair up with scientists at the world’s biggest whale nursery in Mexico, as around 300 mothers and calves arrive. Over in the Bahamas, Steve will be in shark heaven, as he drops anchor to take the plunge live with some enormous ocean predators. And, on the fragile Great Barrier Reef, Liz sets up base at a research station, where scientists are undertaking state-of-the-art experiments on coral to try to find solutions to ensure the Reef’s survival in the face of environmental threats.
The series arrives as the BBC prepares to face fresh rivalry in the nature documentary space, with Netflix releasing Our Planet, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. That series, which is produced by Silverback Films (whose director Alastair Fothergill was the creator of the original Planet Earth series), arrives on Netflix on Friday 5th April.
Blue Planet Live is looking to make the biggest splash first, though, with its live format giving a real-time look at our oceans. The first episode airs at 8pm on BBC One on Sunday 24th March, with Episode 2 at 8pm on Wednesday 27th March, Episode 3 at 9pm on Thursday 28th March and Episode 4 at 8pm on Sunday 31st March. Here’s the trailer:
BBC orders Blue Planet Live
12th October 2018
The BBC is returning to the world’s oceans for Blue Planet Live.
The latest in the Beeb’s semi-regular live events that showcase the natural world or stargazing, Blue Planet Live will broadcast live from three different locations across the planet: East Coast, USA; the Bahamas; and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It takes us back into the same waters as the multi-award winning Blue Planet II, which wowed over over 62% of the UK population (37.6m people) in 2017 with never-seen-before footage of life in our seas, revealing its complexity and the extraordinary variety of creatures that inhabit them.
Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content, says: “Blue Planet Live will thrill the millions of viewers who discovered so much from last year’s ground breaking series that shocked the nation. BBC One continues to lead that conversation as we travel live around the globe to witness first hand the magnificent marine life within our oceans and wake up to one of the biggest environmental crisis of our times.”
Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual, adds: “Blue Planet Live promises to bring spectacular encounters with some of the most extraordinary marine life on the planet whilst also giving the BBC One audience a new appreciation of the wonders of and the challenges facing our oceans.”
Across four live shows, the Beeb’s crew will be on location with many of the exciting marine animals that breed and feed at this time of year, bringing the audience closer than ever before to different species of turtles, sharks, whales and much more. It will also explore the last oceanic frontier that is ‘The Deep’ live for the first time on television – the beating heart of our planet.
On the East Coast of America, Chris Packham will be at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, meeting with scientists, experts and conservationists on the front line of new research. Here, he will be uniquely positioned to delve into the ocean’s little explored ‘Twilight Zone’, to find out what secrets the deep holds for the future of our blue planet. He will also be assessing the health of the world’s whales at a time of year when many are breeding, and finding out why these gentle giants are such important bell weathers of ocean health. Deploying a helicopter will give him an eye in the sky over this wildlife spectacle, as whale mothers and babies come together.
Over 1,000 miles south, one small island in the Bahamas is known for its extraordinary shark gatherings. Here, Steve Backshall will undertake a series of live missions to bring us closer to the ocean’s top predators, which gather here in their masses to breed and feed. On the other side of the world in the Pacific, dawn breaks over the Great Barrier Reef where Liz Bonnin is helping to monitor how new life is faring in this fragile place. Turtles and birds are nesting, and on the coral reef an underwater metropolis is alive with colourful and charming characters. This busy nursery provides plenty of drama that unfolds live before our presenter at this bustling location. Following her recent investigation into the damage plastic is having on the oceans, Liz will also be reporting on the challenges facing all marine life and the efforts being made to save our oceans.
Made by BBC Studios Natural History Unit, co produced with the Open University and BBC Learning, and Executive Produced by Roger Webb, the four-part series will air in 2019.
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