International TV business models are changing… the BBC has partnered with digital broadcaster UKTV to co-fund a Planet Earth-style documentary series produced by the former head of the BBC’s Natural History Unit.

BBC Two and UKTV’s Dave are partnering on Expedition with Steve Backshall, produced by Wendy Darke’s production company True to Nature. FremantleMedia International has taken international rights.

The adventure series will follow Backshall as he travels on a white-water river in the Himalayas, trekking through unexplored jungles in South America and climbing mountains in the deserts of the Middle East.

BBC Two will air the first four episodes of the series in 2019, while Dave will premiere the next six episodes exclusively later in the year, followed by its own versions of the BBC’s episodes.

Backshall said, “If you think our planet was explored long ago, think again. There are still dark and forgotten corners of our world with hidden secrets and we plan to reveal them.”

Darke said, “I couldn’t wish to be working alongside a more talented, experienced and dedicated team of creatives in production, broadcast and distribution, to realise the ambition for our world first premium factual global series. Steve Backshall is a skilled naturalist and explorer who will take viewers on a fascinating journey to reveal the natural mysteries and treasures of our planet.”

Angela Neillis, Director of Non-Scripted for FremantleMedia International, added, “We’re delighted to partner with the world-class team at True to Nature, the adventure daredevil Steve Backshall, UKTV and BBC for Expedition. Steve will take global audiences on an epic journey of wonder and awe, and we’re looking forward to working with broadcasters internationally to build Expedition into a global brand. We’re always on the lookout to partner with producers that can bring us the best in factual programming and jaw-dropping television experiences. Wendy and her team deliver just that.”

Richard Watsham, UKTV’s Director of Commissioning, said: “This is a truly innovative commissioning model that forges an exciting new partnership between two of Britain’s leading free to air broadcasters. The fact that both the BBC and Fremantle want to invest in Expedition is a testament to the spectacular scale of this project. Our strategy to raise UKTV Originals to new heights is gathering pace. Steve Backshall has a huge fan base amongst Dave viewers of all ages and I can’t wait to see how the incredible trust and companionship of Steve’s expert team combine to achieve a number of newsworthy world firsts.”