In Spring 2013, BBC Four will super-size the insect world in a new season called Alien Nation, featuring six programmes, including productions from BBC Scotland, Mentorn and Plum Pictures.
Documentary Planet Ant will unearth the natural home of the Leafcutter ant in the biggest manufactured colony in Europe; Insect Dissection will reveal the anatomies of insects via dissection coupled with imaging technology; Can Eating Insects Save The World? will explore whether insect cuisine could be the key to our future; and The Incredible Story Of The Monarch Butterfly: Four Wings And A Prayer focuses on the migration of the mysterious and beautiful Monarch butterfly.
Also featured in the season are Metamorphosis which investigates the transformation of one living creature into a totally different animal and Edwardian Insect which recalls how Edwardian natural historian Percy Smith, came up with an innovative way of filming insects doing remarkable things.
Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four, says: “Wreaking havoc with our courage and using cutting-edge filming technology, BBC Four is breaking out of the usual two-dimensional take on bugs and really finding how insects work, how they live and how this alien nation might ultimately be the true lords of the universe.”
Planet Ant (1x90) was made by BBC Scotland in co-production with the Science Channel. The executive producer for BBC Scotland is Marcus Herbert and it was commissioned by Richard Klein and Kim Shillinglaw.
Insect Dissection (1x60) was made by BBC Scotland and was commissioned by Richard Klein and Kim Shillinglaw. The executive producer for BBC Scotland is Marcus Herbert.
Can Eating Insects Save The World? (1x60) was commissioned by Richard Klein and Kim Shillinglaw. The executive producer is Kari Lia for Plum Pictures and Clare Peterson is the executive producer for the BBC.
The Incredible Story Of The Monarch Butterfly: Four Wings And A Prayer is a Primitive Entertainment and Films à Trois Production in co-Production with The National Film Board of Canada. The executive producers are Michael McMahon and Emmanuel Laurent and the executive producer for the BBC is Carol Sennett.
Metamorphosis (1x60) was made by BBC Scotland and was commissioned by Richard Klein and Kim Shillinglaw. The executive producer is Marcus Herbert for BBC Scotland.
Edwardian Insects (1x60) was commissioned by Richard Klein and Mark Bell. The executive producer is Emma Morgan for Mentorn Media and Cassian Harrison is commissioning executive for the BBC.
Edwardian Insects (w/t) – 1x60
Fronted by natural history filmmaker Charlie Hamilton-James, Edwardian Insects tells the story of one of the unsung heroes of natural history filmmaking, Percy Smith, who whilst working during the first half of the 20th century, produced dozens of short films on seemingly mundane subjects like flies and slime mould.
Charlie will explore the life and work of this forefather of form, searching out classic Smith archive, revisiting the key locations and attempting to recreate the filmic experiments that led to such classics as The Acrobatic Fly and The Birth of a Flower.
Charlie also meets other passionate wildlife practitioners to share filmmaker tips and wonder at the technical ingenuity of Smith and explores the impact of Smith’s trail blazing career on future landmark Natural History hits such as The Private Life Of Plants, Life In The Undergrowth and Planet Earth.
Planet Ant – 1x90 (w/t)
Presented by Dr George McGavin and Dr Adam Hart.
Beneath the Glasgow Science Tower an exhibit has been constructed, playing home to an ant colony built to mimic the natural home of the Leafcutter ant. Utilising the exhibit and incorporating latest filming techniques, Planet Ant will reveal in detail how individual ants, from queens to workers, live within one of the most complex societies on Earth.
Complemented by breakout films from the UK, the USA and Trinidad, this documentary reveals just how crucial ants are to ecosystems all over the world and how the study of ants is leading to breakthroughs in computing, industrial manufacturing and even the way we communicate with each other.
Insect Dissection – 1x60 (w/t)
Presented by Dr James Logan and Brendan Dumphy.
Insects outnumber us 200 million to one, thriving in environments where humans wouldn’t last minutes. Without bugs, ecosystems would collapse, crops would disappear and waste would pile high. The secret to their success? Their incredible alien anatomy.
This documentary will strip back the exoskeleton to reveal how insects work, using an arsenal of cutting edge imaging technology.
Revealing what makes bugs tick, and demonstrating how science is now using the findings from the insect testing ground to inspire technology that is transforming our world.
Can Eating Insects Save The World? (w/t)
Presenter and food writer Stefan Gates immerses himself in the world of insect-eating to discover if they really could save the planet.
With 40 tonnes of insects to every human, insects could offer a real solution to the global food crisis, where millions go hungry every day whilst the meat consumption of the rich draws vast amounts of grain out of the global food chain.
Gates meets the people in Thailand and Cambodia that hunt, eat and sell edible insects for a living.
The Incredible Story Of The Monarch Butterfly: Four Wings And A Prayer
Based on the book by Sue Halpern and narrated by Kristin Scott Thomas, The Incredible Story Of The Monarch Butterfly: Four Wings And A Prayer, follows the migration of the Monarch butterfly from its birthplace in Canada to its wintering site in the rainforests of Mexico.
Every autumn a Monarch butterfly born in Canada will fly more than 3,000 miles to Mexico, across land it has never seen.
Metamorphosis (w/t) – 1x60
Presenter and author David Malone investigates the natural world of metamorphosis.