Seven Worlds, One Planet producer Jonny Keeling has been concerned with nature documentaries since 2002’s The Lifetime of Mammals and has been working with animals for even longer.
A number of many years in, nevertheless, some creatures nonetheless have the capability to shock him…creatures just like the voice of Seven Worlds, Sir David Attenborough. The 93-year-old Attenborough is a pure historian, frequent nature documentary narrator, and considered one of mankind’s most treasured sources. Previous to a recording session for the collection’ Asia episode, Keeling approached the legend with a photograph of an obscure species of monkey they have been about to cowl and Attenborough instantly responded with the Latin identify, “Ah, Rhinopithecus Roxellana!”
“He is bought an encyclopedic information of animals,” Keeling says. “When you’ve written a script and it isn’t fairly proper, after all he’ll name you out on that.”
An encyclopedic information of animals is useful for Keeling, Attenborough, and everybody else concerned within the seven-part collection. Seven Worlds is maybe essentially the most bold nature documentary since…effectively, because the final time this crew bought along with Planet Earth and Planet Earth II.
As soon as once more, this BBC America collection is about to catalogue that majesty of the pure world. Solely this time it’s doing so in a extra methodical trend, devoting an hour to every of the world’s seven continents, beginning with Australia on Saturday, January 18.
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We sat down with Keeling to debate the the knowledge of Attenborough, the fantastic thing about the world, and what we are able to do to understand and and shield each.
DEN OF GEEK What sort of pondering and consideration goes into the way you order the episodes of Seven Worlds, One Planet when it comes to televised look?
JONNY KEELING: Properly, it will depend on which nation you are in, actually. In several nations and totally different continents, folks can begin with any order they need. Within the U.Ok. we determined to go together with Antarctica to start as a result of it is a actually robust present. The episode additionally has a very robust conservation message and Antarctica is a continent that folks within the U.Ok. are actually fascinated about. This time we began with Australia as a result of clearly there’s a whole lot of information about Australia and the fires proper now. It was a form of mark of respect and a kind of homage to the animals and the folks there. In some respects, it was the final likelihood to see, presumably, a few of these animals.
In producing this, was there one of many seven continents that blew you away specifically – a continent that delivered one thing that you just had not seen earlier than or was simply notably awe-inspiring?
All of them have stuff we have not seen earlier than. I’ve labored in tv for 25 years, I’ve labored with animals for 30 to 40 years, and there are nonetheless tales on the market and animals that I had no thought existed. That is in each single continent. However as for one continent, the Europe episode is fascinating for me as a result of I am from Europe, and I simply thought “that is going to be powerful. There’s nothing right here that I do not know.” However truly, there are tales I didn’t know but there.
There is a story of untamed hamsters! That is ridiculous, however I did not even know that hamsters actually lived within the wild, I believed they have been simply pets. These hamsters reside in a graveyard in Vienna. They don’t seem to be escaped hamsters, they simply reside wild there, and so they feed on the flowers on the graveside bouquets and on the candle wax that folks put out. It is a unprecedented little story and it bought a very good Twitter response within the U.Ok. It sounds macabre as a result of it is in a graveyard, nevertheless it is not. It is truly actually comical. It is like a Pixar movie in itself.
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There is a story in Asia as effectively. The Asia episode is extraordinary. There is a story there of blue face monkeys dwelling within the snow, within the mountains of China – actually not often seen. They stroll on two legs, stroll on their hind legs very often. So they’re the inspiration for the Yeti fable. In North America, there is a story of polar bears and also you assume, “effectively, we have seen polar bears.” I’ve filmed polar bears earlier than. Is there something new to see? There’s an incredible sequence of polar bears standing on rocks in a river mouth. And because the tide is available in, the polar bears leap off the rocks and catch beluga whales. Even with the kind of acquainted animals, we have got unfamiliar tales.
How lengthy have we recognized that polar bears are being compelled to adapt that method (consuming Beluga whales) in response local weather change? How did you discover out about it? And why was that vital to shut the episode out with that?
That story has solely come to gentle in the previous few years. There have been reviews of polar bears catching belugas earlier than, leaping off of ice into little ice holes and, and catching the place belugas are coming as much as breathe. However the technique of standing on a rock and ready for the tide to return in and ready for these hundreds of belugas to return in is a brand new story. We heard it from, I feel there is a lodge up there, the place they’re watching polar bears. However it’s tough for them to see them on a regular basis. Folks, usually in the event that they’re on trip or in the event that they’re doing analysis, they don’t seem to be sitting and watching all day, daily. They informed us that they thought this was occurring and so they had some kind of tales of it.
So we went up and we took a drone and have been capable of movie from a few mile away, and look down and see the entire technique. To have the ability to be up within the air, it is actually modified the attitude for us. By way of local weather change, these polar bears are literally doing rather well and we have been fairly cautious to say that they don’t seem to be ravenous. The summers are longer and warmer within the Arctic now and summer time is mostly a time of hunger and fasting for polar bears. So it is a barely tough story as a result of they’re meant to be ravenous, however truly they’re doing very, very effectively. We determined to shut out that episode simply because it made sense to have that huge, meaty sequence proper on the finish.
How do you go about innovating on this nature documentary style? How do you be sure that the most recent one is totally different from the final one?
I feel it is actually, actually vital to inform new tales. I’d say the very first thing is to be sure that the construction feels new. So that is new. We’ve not damaged down the world by continent earlier than, which I feel is outstanding. Within the Planet Earth collection, we broke the planet down by habitats, by jungles and mountains and so forth. That offers a uniformity to an episode. It is very inexperienced, say the jungle one. Whereas I fairly like this since you’ve bought North America. In that one episode we’ve deserts, we’ve rivers, we’ve mountains, snow, forest. There’s every thing in that present. I like the range that it offers. I like the truth that, as a human, you’re related to it. All of us come from a continent, all of us belong to a continent, which ought to resonate with us all. It is vital to interrupt the collection down in a brand new method if you happen to can. Then new tales, new species, and new places are vital.
How do you even start to organize to go to Antarctica? It looks like making ready for a moon touchdown.
It’s precisely that. It is like one other planet actually. We bought a whole lot of help from scientists and totally different nations with bases down within the Antarctica. We sailed down a couple of instances and it is fairly dramatic typically, crusing with 30, 40 foot waves in a small boat. It isn’t a whole lot of enjoyable. The journey there may be usually as onerous because the filming. The nice factor is that while you’re there, the animals are so unafraid. You’ve got penguins come proper as much as you. Really, I did a visit there and it was in the summertime. It was somewhat bit chilly however not that unhealthy.I like it as a result of there are simply animals in all places and no folks. It is actually good.
What are you most excited for North American audiences to see as soon as this premieres?
I’d love for individuals who watch it to really feel stunned about their very own continent and to really feel, like I say, fascinated and astonished by different ones. And simply to fall in love. It sounds ridiculous, however to fall in love with the pure world and reconnect with it, and actually really feel impressed by it, and understand the wonder that’s there together with the complexity. Be impressed to do one thing to assist shield it as a result of it is below extraordinary risk in the mean time. It is by no means been below such risk, and we actually can do one thing about it. There are tales of wonderful hope on this collection. There are some tales of unhappiness and despair, which I feel are vital to spotlight. However there are tales of nice hope too, of animals making good comebacks once they’ve been given somewhat little bit of house and time.
Is there an animal that is critically endangered proper now, that you just assume we are able to save?
There’s one which we function on this collection for which it’s too late sadly. On the finish, David Attenborough goes to fulfill the final two Northern white rhinos on earth and so they’re each feminine, so they do not actually have an opportunity to breed. There are some efforts being made for synthetic insemination, however most definitely once they die, they’ll take with them the final of their form. They usually’ve been right here for thousands and thousands of years. That’s all the way down to us and it is our accountability. If you have a look at rhinos like that, you simply assume, that is what we have executed and it is heartbreaking. They do not know, after all, they’re so harmless and noble and exquisite animals, however they do not know that they are the final two. That is an enormous animal, a rhino, and we have made them extinct. It is heartbreaking.
How a lot of an asset is David Attenborough in reveals like this?
He’s an actual asset. He is 93 years previous! If you go and present him footage beforehand he reveals you what he is excited by and what he likes. I took alongside some photographs of that blue confronted monkey I used to be speaking about, and he right away stated, “Ah, Rhinopithecus Roxellana”, and simply offers the Latin identify. He is bought an encyclopedic information of animals. When you’ve written a script and it isn’t fairly proper, after all he’ll name you out on that. We’re scientists, most of us who work on it. I’ve bought a PhD in biology, however you understand, David has a very good information.
Then when he involves narrate as effectively, the vocal vary that he has, I simply assume is unparalleled. The truth that he may be poignant, unhappy, or he can provide you some humor and a few playfulness or convey awe and marvel or gravitas. It is an hour-long present and he just about narrates it on the go and also you return and do a couple of pickups of the odd line that perhaps he found. He’s a unprecedented particular person.
Seven Worlds, One Planet premieres on BBC America, AMC, and IFC on Saturday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET.
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Alec Bojalad is TV Editor at Den of Geek and TCA member. Learn extra of his stuff right here. Comply with him at his creatively-named Twitter deal with @alecbojalad