BBC Factual has announced a line up of new natural history programming for BBC One, BBC Two and iPlayer with shows from the BBC NHU, Windfall Films and Oxford Scientific.

The shows are Asia, a seven part super landmark series for BBC One, showing the beauty and wonder of the largest continent; Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard, for BBC One, explores the biggest discovery in a generation; a feature length documentary to explore the sinking of The Rainbow Warrior and The Pride follows the renowned Marsh Pride of lions in Africa.

Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History, said: “When it comes to Science and Natural History programming, the BBC leads the way – and this raft of fascinating ideas proves it. From Asia to the Masai Mara, from Ice Age excavations to modern-day environmental thrillers, no other broadcaster is as committed to telling stories about the state of our planet today and the science of life on earth.”

 

ASIA (working title)  

For the first time, Asia will be the focus of a new, ambitious landmark series for BBC One and iPlayer from BBC Studios Natural History Unit.

Asiawill tell the story of biggest continent on Earth through its epic landscapes and spectacular wildlife.

From the vast Arabian desert, to the unexplored jungles of Sulawesi, and from the polar wilderness of Siberia, to the tropical coral seas of the Indian Ocean, this series will showcase the breath-taking variety of Asia’s wildest places.

Seven, one-hour episodes will feature dramatic wildlife stories from each corner of the continent. Filming locations include the Tibetan plateau, the mighty Taiga forest, the Gobi Desert and some of the 17,000 islands of Indonesia. The series will also reveal animals that thrive at the heart of Asia’s mega cities – Shanghai, Jakarta, Mumbai and Tokyo.

Asia is the largest continent and no other place is as rich in superlatives. It has the highest mountain range – the Himalayas; the deepest ocean – the Mariana Trench in the Pacific; the tallest jungles – Danum valley in Borneo; the biggest cave – Hang Son Doong in Vietnam; and the greatest number of active volcanoes.

Asia’s wildlife is equally impressive. The continent is home to six species of bear, three species of rhino and five species of big cat – more than Africa. It is also the land of the unexpected – flying lemurs, vampire moths and the bizarre bearcat. With new filming locations opening up in areas previously off-limits to crews,  it is now possible to tell wildlife stories there for the first time in decades.

This contemporary view of Asia will celebrate the diversity of life on the continent but will also feature the conservation challenges and potential solutions. On a continent that is home to well over half the world’s human population, there is a growing movement within Asia to protect its wild places and animals – these stories of conservation heroes will feature prominently in the series.

Iconic landscapes and intimate behaviour will be filmed using the very latest techniques, allowing audiences to experience the beauty and wonder of Asia like never before.

Asia (w/t), a 7×60’ series for BBC One and iPlayer, is made by BBC Studios Natural History Unit and co-produced by BBC America. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Director, Factual, Arts and Classical Music Television and Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History. The Executive Producer is Jonny Keeling and the Series Producer is Matthew Wright.

 

ATTENBOROUGH AND THE MAMMOTH GRAVEYARD (working title) 

Sir David Attenborough joins an archaeological dig uncovering Britain’s biggest mammoth discovery in almost 20 years.

In 2017, in a gravel quarry near Swindon, two amateur fossil hunters found an extraordinary cache of Ice Age mammoth remains and a stone ‘hand axe’ made by a Neanderthal.

Sir David Attenborough joins biologist Prof. Ben Garrod and a team of archaeologists and palaeontologists as they carefully excavate this prehistoric crime scene. Why were the mammoths here and how did they die? Could the Neanderthals have killed these Ice Age giants? The team searches for clues to unravel this Ice Age mystery.

Mammoth bones found in the UK often date to tens of thousands of years ago, but the bones here are hundreds of thousands of years old. As the team finds more stone tools lying nearby they realise this could be a once in a generation discovery offering a unique window into a period of prehistory we know very little about. It could unlock new clues into how our Neanderthal relatives lived in the harsh conditions of Ice Age Britain, and even how they died.

Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard (w/t), a 1×60’ for BBC One and iPlayer, is made by Windfall Films. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Director, Factual, Arts and Classical Music Television and Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History. The Commissioning Editor is Tom Coveney and the Executive Producer is David Duggan.

 

OPERATION SATANIC: THE SINKING OF THE RAINBOW WARRIOR (working title) 

Operation Satanic: The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior (working title), a feature length documentary from Oxford Scientific Films (OSF) has been commissioned for BBC Two and iPlayer.

‘Operation Satanic’ tells the story of the fatal bombing of Greenpeace’s flagship Rainbow Warrior by a team of French Secret Service agents in New Zealand in 1985, ordered to prevent the environmental campaigners from protesting against France’s nuclear testing on South Pacific islands.

It explores the shocking legacy of nuclear testing by the Western powers, the botched French operation, the dramatic police investigation and international fallout as France flexed its muscles over nuclear-free New Zealand at the height of the Cold War.

With brand new testimony from the spies, detectives, activists and politicians at the heart of the action, it’s a tale of state terrorism, environmental passion and international power play, more resonant now than ever.

Operation Satanic: The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior (w/t), a 1×90’ for BBC Two and iPlayer, is made by Oxford Scientific Films, part of ITV Studios. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Director, Factual, Arts and Classical Music Television and Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History. The Director is Chloe Campbell (The Surrogates, Forensics: The Real CSI). The Executive Producer is Caroline Hawkins. Worldwide sales are being handled by ITV Studios.

 

THE PRIDE

This ground-breaking film tells the story of the Marsh Pride. Documented for the last 30 years by the BBC and other broadcasters around the world, this is the most filmed pride of lions on Earth.

In this epic story the Marsh Pride battle for survival in Kenya’s famous Maasai Mara Reserve. A tale of shifting loyalties, bloody take overs and sheer resilience the lions’ story is told by those who filmed them, those who tried to protect them, who live alongside them and some who ultimately wanted them dead.

These lions are a powerful symbol of nature’s fight for survival in a world where lions and humans are increasingly at odds. In this 1×90’ film for BBC Two and iPlayer, their lives will be pieced together into a single documentary charting the rise and fall of the pride.

Buffalo and male lions pose a deadly threat to young cubs, and human settlements increasingly encroach onto pride territory. The fortunes of the Pride depend on the precious space they have left to be able to raise their young. But their predation of growing numbers of cattle and deadly revenge attacks by Maasai pastoralists have shaken the Pride to the core.

Over the past decades well over half of Africa’s lions have been wiped out, leaving only 20,000 in the wild. Habitat loss and huge population growth have increasingly putting them in direct confrontation with humans. The film will chart through news archive and testimony how the lion population has catastrophically declined.

Today the Marsh Pride remains in its historic territory though the landscape around them is now radically changed. The threats to their survival are increasing as they are for lions across the continent. Their future hangs in the balance.

The Pride, a 1×90’ for BBC Two and iPlayer, is made by BBC Studios Natural History Unit, co-produced by PBS. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Director, Factual, Arts and Classical Music Television and Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History. The Executive Producer is Jo Shinner, the Director is Pamela Gordon and the Commissioning Editor is Sreya Biswas. Executive in Charge for PBS is Bill Gardner.

 

Jon Creamer

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