BBC Studios Natural History Unit has been commissioned to make two wildlife specials for the Christmas schedules, Meerkat: A Dynasties Special and Penguins: Meet the Family.

Julian Hector, Head of BBC Studios Natural History Unit, said: “We’re thrilled to be bringing these two brand new natural history specials to viewers. In a year of such challenging times for everyone, seeing the world through the lives of such characterful animals we hope will bring joy and warm hearts and homes this festive season.”

Premiering on BBC One and BiliBili, Meerkat: A Dynasties Special is a one-off special which follows the award-winning series Dynasties.

Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the special follows the dramatic story of a young meerkat queen, Maghogho, on a quest to establish her dynasty in one of the harshest places on earth. Her kingdom lies amongst the dramatic beauty of the Makadikadi salt pans in Botswana. The desert is so hot and dry here that almost nothing can survive – and yet it is here that she must raise her pups. To succeed in this desolate and extreme landscape, she will need the support of all of her family. Maghogho’s challenge is to unite and lead them as a team – working together to overcome adversity.

Filmed in an entirely new location, this family demonstrate the harsh world that meerkats inhabit and the unexpected behaviors, raw emotions and difficult decisions they must make.

Mike Gunton, Creative Director and Executive Producer, BBC Studios Natural History Unit, said:
“Dynasties is back this festive season with a story like no other. Follow the twisting and turning tale of Maghogho and her clan and find yourself on the edge of your seat as they strive to battle both the elements and their enemies. This special shows viewers a whole new side to meerkats, and demonstrates the power of family unity through hardship.”

Meerkat: A Dynasties Special, a 1×60’ for BBC One, is made by BBC Studios Natural History Unit and co-produced by BBC America and BiliBili. It was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer and Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History. The Executive Producer is Mike Gunton.

Penguins: Meet the Family introduces viewers to every single species in this iconic bird family. Narrated by Liz Bonnin, viewers will meet penguins living in dense forests, desert burrows and city streets, from the Equator to deepest Antarctica.

Audiences will join the penguins as they battle the elements, face the perils of rock climbing and confront dangerous sea lions. Discover how these wonderful characters form lifelong bonds and become devoted parents, and see how satellite imagery is revealing new penguin colonies we never knew existed before.

Doug Mackay-Hope, Executive Producer at BBC Studios Natural History Unit, said:  “What I love about this show is that many of us feel we know Penguins and yet if asked, most have no idea that there are 18 different varieties out there. From the striking Snares penguin with its punk hairstyle, to the Little penguin with its blue feathers. In Penguins: Meet the Family we celebrate all of them for the first time, giving viewers a unique opportunity to meet and enjoy this much loved animal family in a whole new light.”

Penguins: Meet the Family will premiere on BBC One this festive season.

Penguins: Meet the Family, a 1×60’ for BBC One, is made by BBC Studios Natural History Unit. It was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer and Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History. The Executive Producer is Doug Mackay-Hope.

Jon Creamer