Off The Fence is producing two major wildlife co-productions, one of which is fronted by field biologist, wildlife filmmaker and TV presenter Dan O’Neill.

A rising star in natural-history documentary, O’Neill has also been signed to present two further new OTF series.

Wild Talk (5 x 50 mins), co-produced by OTF, its parent company ZDF Studios and ARTE, explores the rapidly evolving science of animal communication — and reveals that many species are just as talkative as human beings. In the new five-part series, leading scientists decode complex animal communication systems with the help of AI, and next-generation sensors and recording technology. The result is an insight into the world of non-human language, from the waggle dance of honeybees to the UV signals emitted by the wings of butterflies.

Wild Talk is executive produced by Debbie Hinnigan and Andrew Zikking for OTF, Petra Boden for ARTE,

and Nikolas Hülbusch and Ralf Rückauer for ZDF Studios. The series producer is BAFTA-winning filmmaker Guy Gilbert.

O’Neill, whose hit series Giants, produced by OTF for Curiosity Stream, premiered in May 2023, is front of a second ambitious co-production: Zombie Animals (2 x 60 mins), brought to life by OTF Studios and National Geographic International.

The two-part documentary, which is set to transmit on Nat Geo Wild in the run-up to Halloween, examines the gruesome world of animal hosts and their invaders — the alien parasites, viruses and freaky fungi that cause their unfortunate victims to act like zombie slaves. The two-parter combines blue-chip and UGC archive material, dynamic graphics and on-location footage with O’Neill’s signature storytelling. 

Zombie Animals is executive produced by Andrew Zikking for OTF, and Sarah Peat for NGCI. The series producer is Aaron Paul.

 Two other O’Neill-fronted projects are also in OTF’s production pipeline: Snow Leopards with Dan O’Neill (2 x 50 mins) and a second series of Nature’s Ultimate Survivors (5 x 60 mins)

In the former, the first openly LGBT wildlife presenter returns to the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia to gather new information about the elusive ‘Ghosts of the Mountains’. The cinematic two-part documentary, co-produced by OTF and wildlife and nature brand Love Nature, follows O’Neill — the Snow Leopard Trust’s only ‘explorer in residence’ — to two remote locations: Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, home to the highest density of snow leopards on the planet, and the Tost mountains of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, where entry is forbidden unless permitted by the Snow Leopard Trust.

Helped by expert local rangers and next-generation camera, tracking and drone technology, O’Neill stalks the majestic cats to reveal their hunting behaviour, social dynamics and territorial range,  with the intention of protecting the future of nature’s least understood big cats.

O’Neill has also been signed up for a second season of OTF Production’s successful 2023 series Nature’s Ultimate Survivors (5 x 60 mins), which combined natural-history footage with the latest science to explore the astonishing abilities that creatures have evolved in order to survive.

The first season has been picked up by broadcasters across Europe, including France’s Ushuaia, Xumo in the US, Viasat World, Sky Germany and ZDF 3sat. The new series, which will again by narrated by O’Neill, will explore yet more wild and weird skills — from power punches through toxic touch to extreme endurance and stupendous speed — that help animals survive in the wild.

Andrew Zikking, MD of OTF Productions said: “It’s fair to say that natural-history co-productions are second nature to OTF. Over the years, we’ve learned that a successful co-production is a craft in itself, not just in terms of the tricky art of creative collaboration, but also in knowing how to pick the right partner for the right project for the right client and audience. It’s deeply gratifying that such natural-history power players as ARTE, National Geographic and Love Nature have committed to work with us on these exciting new projects. And, as a company that prioritises discovering and celebrating fresh and diverse talent, it’s a real coup that the peerless — and fearless — Dan O’Neill has agreed to front three more premium OTF productions.”


Pippa Considine

Share this story

Share Televisual stories within your social media posts.
Be inclusive: is open access without the need to register.
Anyone and everyone can access this post with minimum fuss.