Please wait...
Please wait...

Attenborough heads BBC factual slate

The BBC has ordered a Sir David Attenborough-fronted natural history series and the latest in its Planet franchise to spearhead a factual slate that “drives rather than reacts to the debate,” according to factual chief Alison Kirkham.

Alison Kirkham

Attenborough will present One Planet, Seven Worlds (working title) exploring the stories of each continent’s wildlife and landscapes, while Green Planet (wt), the latest series in the BBC’s Planet franchise, looks at the natural world from the perspective of plants.

The series shows how plants, like their animal counterparts, fight battles for food and light, striving to reproduce and scatter their young.

Kirkham, controller of factual commissioning, joked that Green Planet would prove plants “can be as aggressive, competitive and dramatic as animals, or indeed people. Or maybe just people in television.”

The 5×60’ series, for BBC1 and PBS in the US, is coproduced by BBC Studios Natural History Unit and The Open University in the UK.

Mike Gunton exec produces for the Natural History Unit while Bill Gardner, VP of programming and development, oversees for PBS.

Green Planet was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content and Tom McDonald, head of commissioning, natural history and specialist factual.

One Planet, Seven Worlds (7×60’) features animal behaviour from all the continents in the landscapes they inhabit, such as the baking plains of Africa and the frozen waters of Antarctica.

It is produced by the Natural History Unit alongside BBC America, China’s Tencent Penguin Pictures, ZDF and France Télévisions, while Jonny Keeling exec produces for the Natural History Unit.

The BBC’s factual slate spans environmental concerns, mental health and political, military, science and historical documentary series. Kirkham said the pubcaster was commissioning programming to “anticipate and stimulate the national conversation,” tackling subjects which are “not motivated by commercial imperatives or what’s in fashion.

Population with Chris Packham (wt, 1×60’), produced by BBC Studios Science Unit and Curious Films, and Raw TV’s Liz Bonnin-fronted Meat: A Threat to Planet Earth? (wt, 1×60’) explore pressing environmental concerns.

Mental health will be tackled by three shows following the personal stories of noted Britons who live with mental conditions and a documentary on mental health in the armed forces.

Nadiya on Anxiety (wt) follows 2015 Great British Bake Off winner Naidya Hussein, who has suffered from anxiety and panic attacks since childhood, as she examines this modern epidemic. It is produced by Raw TV.

This follows two previously announced series, Films of Record’s David Harewood: Psychosis and Me and Alastair Campbell: Depression & Me (both wt), produced by Silverfish Productions and Coasthouse Production in association with Windfall Films.

The War In My Head (wt, 1×45’) is produced by BBC Northern Ireland Current Affairs, centres on the question why so many young men and women in the armed forces have taken their own lives since the end of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

My Family, the Holocaust & Me (2×60’), Belsen Remembered (wt, 1×60’), The Rise of the Nazis (wt, 3×60’) and a special D-Day commemoration continue the BBC’s output on the major conflicts of the 20th century, this time with a focus on the Second World War.

Elsewhere, Louis Theroux: The Night in Question (wt, 1×60’) investigates sexual assault in US universities, while BBC3’s Home Town (wt) follows journalist Mobeen Azhar back to his home town of Huddersfield to cover the trial linked to the shooting of drugs suspect Mohammed Yassar Yaqub by police.

War in the Blood (1×90’), George McGavin: Living with Cancer (1×60’) and The Dad Who Gave Birth: Seahorse (1×90’) are all intimate stories centring on the world of science and medicine, while Einstein’s Quantum Riddle (1×60’) looks at the work of the great physicist.

Finally, Travels in Europe with Ed Balls (3×60’) follows on from Travels in Trumpland, and sees the former UK chauncellor of the exchequer head to Europe to look at the effects of Brexit on the continent. Finally, Abused By My Girlfriend (1×50’) is an illustration of the violent relationship between a young football coach and his abusive girlfriend.

“Plenty of other broadcasters are now following our lead, SVoDs and terrestrials alike,” Kirkham said of the programming at an event in London yesterday. “We’re determined to keep moving the conversation forward with TV that drives rather than reacts to the debate.”


Please wait...