The BBC is doubling down on its landmark Planet strand with three new major natural history titles. The British public broadcaster has ordered Perfect Planet in addition to follow ups to Planet Earth and Frozen Planet.
The move is a major statement of intent from the BBC, which has regularly backed big-budget wildlife series. The BBC has called these orders part of an “unprecedented commitment” to natural history.
Perfect Planet will be a unique fusion of blue chip natural history and earth sciences explaining how the living planet operates. This five-part series will show how the forces of nature – weather, ocean currents, solar energy and volcanoes – drive, shape and support Earth’s great diversity of life. It will broadcast in 2020.
Notably, Perfect Planet, which is being producd by Silverback Films in association with China’s Tencent Penguin Pictures, France Télévisions and The Open University, does not yet have a U.S. co-producer on board. With no mention of BBC America, could the BBC looking for a new, potentially digital, partner?
Frozen Planet II will take audiences back to the wildernesses of the Arctic and Antarctica. Ten years on from the original Frozen Planet, this series tells the complete story of the entire frozen quarter of our planet that’s locked in ice and blanketed in snow. It will broadcast in 2021.
The six-part series is produced by BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit and co-produced by BBC America and The Open University. The original 2011 Frozen Planet was originally co-produced by Discovery in the U.S., so this is a boon for the BBC/AMC-backed cable network.
Planet Earth III will see the BBC head back to one of its landmark franchises. The show will attempt to combine the “awe and wonder” of the original, the science of Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II and the characters in Dynasties. The eight-part series will use new technology and will see crews spending longer in the field than ever before with robotic cameras, stabilized rigs and deep submersibles to film the highest mountains, deepest oceans, darkest caves and hottest deserts.
The series, which will air in 2022, is produced by BBCS’ NHU for BBC America and The Open University.
Elsewhere, the BBC has ordered Big Cats follow-up Primates, a three-part NHU series with PBS; Silverback Films-produced five-part series The Mating Game and three-part Earth’s Paradise Islands, also with PBS.
The series were commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual.
Moore said, “The BBC is world famous for its natural history programming and these new series will raise the bar even higher. We know that audiences want shows that bring them the richest narratives, the best camerawork and the highest quality production values and they look to us to deliver this. Viewers around the globe have been captivated by the incredible stories that the Planets series have told and now new technology allow us to explore even more of the natural world than ever before. We’re also announcing three new series that will look in depth at specific aspects of the natural world, giving revealing and sometimes surprising insights to animals and the habitats they live in. It’s our biggest ever commitment to natural history and one we are proud of.”
McDonald added, “Planet Earth II, Blue Planet II and most recently Dynasties reinvented landmark Natural History at BBC – delivering record breaking global audiences & receiving awards around the world. These new titles reveal the scale of our ambitions in Natural History – with a rich and innovative pipeline of titles up to 2022: the biggest commitment we have ever made in the genre. Alongside new titles such as The Mating Game & Primates, I’m delighted to be bringing the long awaited Frozen Planet back to our screens a decade after the first series was on air, and of course thrilled that Planet Earth will be back in the BBC’s centenary year. Both will continue our pledge to reveal not just the world’s greatest wonders and animal behaviour but reflect the very real challenges the natural world faces.”
“One of the things we’re most proud of at BBC America is that we’ve established the network as the U.S. destination for the very best nature programming on the planet, from the BBC’s award-winning natural history unit,” added Sarah Barnett, President, Entertainment Networks, for AMC Networks. “We are delighted to renew our successful partnership with BBC Studios, and to continue to co-produce these groundbreaking series. To bring together audiences for this kind of transcendent event television is a true privilege, we couldn’t be happier to continue to do this for the next five years.”