Planet Earth II is debuting February 18 at 9 PM and will be simulcast on AMC, Sundance TV and BBC America, BBCA president Sarah Barnett said today at TCA. The sequel to the groundbreaking 2006 original has been a “cultural event” in the UK, where it already has aired, watched by more than half the country’s population.
“What has been fascinating and rewarding is that factual television is skewed to the older generation,” project EP Mike Gunton told TV critics today in Pasadena. “What’s happened with this series is that people absolutely come together to watch it….through extraordinary social and traditional word of mouth. Families get together to to watch it, and students get together to watch. And, at 6 on Sundays, the Internet was ablaze about what they going to see, and a call to arms: ‘Don’t forget to get to the TV set!’
“For those who think appointment TV is dead, this has completely confounded that,” Gunton continued. “This is the highest-rated show, other than Bake Off, on UK television.”
“Bake Off – that’s British television for you,” Gunton marveled, saying he was “sure” whatever show tops Planet Earth II “will be something much more edifying in the U.S.” We assume he was being facetious.
At least one TV critic is pleased Planet Earth II will air in the U.S. with the original narration by David Attenborough; when Discovery aired the first series in 2006, Attenborough’s narration was swapped out for Sigourney Weaver.
“David did invent the genre, so it’s right he should be doing it,” insisted Gunton, who is a Brit. His narration “is like a virtuoso performance…David does it in one take. It is an absolute performance. We’ve always felt for you guys that you didn’t hear David’s voice” in the first series.