Seven Worlds, One Planet producer Jonny Keeling has been concerned with nature documentaries since 2002’s The Lifetime of Mammals and has been working with animals for even longer.
A number of a long time in, nevertheless, some creatures nonetheless have the capability to shock him…creatures like the voice of Seven Worlds, Sir David Attenborough. The 93-year-old Attenborough is a pure historian, frequent nature documentary narrator, and one in all mankind’s most treasured assets. Prior to a recording session for the sequence’ Asia episode, Keeling approached the legend with a photograph of an obscure species of monkey they had been about to cowl and Attenborough instantly responded with the Latin identify, “Ah, Rhinopithecus Roxellana!”
“He is received an encyclopedic information of animals,” Keeling says. “Should you’ve written a script and it is not fairly proper, after all he’ll name you out on that.”
An encyclopedic information of animals is useful for Keeling, Attenborough, and everybody else concerned in the seven-part sequence. Seven Worlds is maybe the most formidable nature documentary since…effectively, since the final time this crew received along with Planet Earth and Planet Earth II.
As soon as once more, this BBC America sequence is about to catalogue that majesty of the pure world. Solely this time it’s doing so in a extra methodical vogue, devoting an hour to every of the world’s seven continents, beginning with Australia on Saturday, January 18.
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We sat down with Keeling to talk about the the knowledge of Attenborough, the fantastic thing about the world, and what we will do to respect and and defend each.
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DEN OF GEEK What sort of pondering and consideration goes into the way you order the episodes of Seven Worlds, One Planet by way of televised look?
JONNY KEELING: Nicely, it will depend on which nation you are in, actually. In numerous nations and totally different continents, folks can begin with any order they need. In the U.Ok. we determined to go along with Antarctica to start as a result of it is a actually sturdy present. The episode additionally has a extremely sturdy conservation message and Antarctica is a continent that individuals in the U.Ok. are actually fascinated about. This time we began with Australia as a result of clearly there’s a variety of information about Australia and the fires proper now. It was a sort of mark of respect and a form of homage to the animals and the folks there. In some respects, it was the final probability to see, probably, a few of these animals.
In producing this, was there one in all the seven continents that blew you away specifically – a continent that delivered one thing that you simply had not seen earlier than or was simply significantly awe-inspiring?
All of them have stuff we have not seen earlier than. I’ve labored in tv for 25 years, I’ve labored with animals for 30 to 40 years, and there are nonetheless tales on the market and animals that I had no thought existed. That is in each single continent. However as for one continent, the Europe episode is fascinating for me as a result of I am from Europe, and I simply thought “that is going to be powerful. There’s nothing right here that I do not know.” However really, there are tales I didn’t know but there.
There is a story of untamed hamsters! That is ridiculous, however I did not even know that hamsters actually lived in the wild, I believed they had been simply pets. These hamsters stay in a graveyard in Vienna. They don’t seem to be escaped hamsters, they simply stay wild there, and they feed on the flowers on the graveside bouquets and on the candle wax that individuals put out. It is a rare little story and it received a extremely good Twitter response in the U.Ok. It sounds macabre as a result of it is in a graveyard, nevertheless it is not. It is really actually comical. It is like a Pixar movie in itself.
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There is a story in Asia as effectively. The Asia episode is extraordinary. There is a story there of blue face monkeys residing in the snow, in the mountains of China – actually hardly ever seen. They stroll on two legs, stroll on their hind legs very often. So they’re the inspiration for the Yeti fable. In North America, there is a story of polar bears and you suppose, “effectively, we have seen polar bears.” I’ve filmed polar bears earlier than. Is there something new to see? There’s a tremendous sequence of polar bears standing on rocks in a river mouth. And as the tide is available in, the polar bears leap off the rocks and catch beluga whales. Even with the form of acquainted animals, we have got unfamiliar tales.
How lengthy have we recognized that polar bears are being pressured to adapt that method (consuming Beluga whales) in response local weather change? How did you discover out about it? And why was that essential to shut the episode out with that?
That story has solely come to mild in the previous few years. There have been stories of polar bears catching belugas earlier than, leaping off of ice into little ice holes and, and catching the place belugas are developing to breathe. However the technique of standing on a rock and ready for the tide to are available and ready for these hundreds of belugas to are available is a brand new story. We heard it from, I feel there is a lodge up there, the place they’re watching polar bears. However it’s troublesome for them to see all of them the time. Individuals, typically in the event that they’re on trip or in the event that they’re doing analysis, they are not sitting and watching all day, on daily basis. They instructed us that they thought this was taking place and that they had some form of tales of it.
So we went up and we took a drone and had been in a position to movie from a few mile away, and look down and see the entire technique. To give you the chance to be up in the air, it is actually modified the perspective for us. By way of local weather change, these polar bears are literally doing very well and we had been fairly cautious to say that they are not ravenous. The summers are longer and hotter in the Arctic now and summer time is mostly a time of hunger and fasting for polar bears. So it is a barely troublesome story as a result of they’re meant to be ravenous, however really they’re doing very, very effectively. We determined to shut out that episode simply because it made sense to have that huge, meaty sequence proper at the finish.
How do you go about innovating on this nature documentary style? How do you ensure that the latest one is totally different from the final one?
I feel it is actually, actually essential to inform new tales. I’d say the very first thing is to ensure that the construction feels new. So that is new. We’ve not damaged down the world by continent earlier than, which I feel is outstanding. In the Planet Earth sequence, we broke the planet down by habitats, by jungles and mountains and so on. That provides a uniformity to an episode. It’s totally inexperienced, say the jungle one. Whereas I fairly like this since you’ve received North America. In that one episode we’ve deserts, we’ve rivers, we’ve mountains, snow, forest. There’s the whole lot in that present. I like the selection that it provides. I like the undeniable fact that, as a human, you’re related to it. All of us come from a continent, all of us belong to a continent, which ought to resonate with us all. It is essential to break the sequence down in a brand new method in case you can. Then new tales, new species, and new places are essential.
How do you even start to put together to go to Antarctica? It looks as if getting ready for a moon touchdown.
It’s precisely that. It is like one other planet actually. We received a variety of help from scientists and totally different nations with bases down in the Antarctica. We sailed down just a few occasions and it is fairly dramatic typically, crusing with 30, 40 foot waves in a small boat. It isn’t a variety of enjoyable. The journey there may be typically as arduous as the filming. The great factor is that whenever you’re there, the animals are so unafraid. You’ve gotten penguins come proper up to you. Really, I did a visit there and it was in the summer time. It was a little bit bit chilly however not that dangerous.I adore it as a result of there are simply animals in all places and no folks. It is actually good.
What are you most excited for North American audiences to see as soon as this premieres?
I’d love for individuals who watch it to really feel stunned about their very own continent and to really feel, like I say, fascinated and astonished by different ones. And simply to fall in love. It sounds ridiculous, however to fall in love with the pure world and reconnect with it, and actually really feel impressed by it, and understand the magnificence that’s there together with the complexity. Be impressed to do one thing to assist defend it as a result of it is beneath extraordinary risk at the second. It is by no means been beneath such risk, and we actually can do one thing about it. There are tales of wonderful hope on this sequence. There are some tales of disappointment and despair, which I feel are essential to spotlight. However there are tales of nice hope too, of animals making good comebacks once they’ve been given a little bit little bit of house and time.
Is there an animal that is critically endangered proper now, that you simply suppose we will save?
There’s one which we function on this sequence for which it’s too late sadly. At the finish, David Attenborough goes to meet the final two Northern white rhinos on earth and they’re each feminine, so they do not actually have an opportunity to breed. There are some efforts being made for synthetic insemination, however most certainly once they die, they’ll take with them the final of their sort. And so they’ve been right here for thousands and thousands of years. That’s down to us and it is our duty. While you take a look at rhinos like that, you simply suppose, that is what we have performed and it is heartbreaking. They don’t know, after all, they’re so harmless and noble and stunning animals, however they don’t know that they are the final two. That is a giant animal, a rhino, and we have made them extinct. It is heartbreaking.
How a lot of an asset is David Attenborough in exhibits like this?
He’s an actual asset. He is 93 years outdated! While you go and present him footage beforehand he exhibits you what he is considering and what he likes. I took alongside some pictures of that blue confronted monkey I used to be speaking about, and he right away mentioned, “Ah, Rhinopithecus Roxellana”, and simply provides the Latin identify. He is received an encyclopedic information of animals. Should you’ve written a script and it is not fairly proper, after all he’ll name you out on that. We’re scientists, most of us who work on it. I’ve received a PhD in biology, however you already know, David has a extremely good information.
Then when he comes to narrate as effectively, the vocal vary that he has, I simply suppose is unparalleled. The truth that he may be poignant, unhappy, or he may give you some humor and some playfulness or convey awe and marvel or gravitas. It is an hour-long present and he just about narrates it on the go and you return and do just a few pickups of the odd line that possibly he came across. He’s a rare particular person.
Seven Worlds, One Planet premieres on BBC America, AMC, and IFC on Saturday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET.
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Alec Bojalad is TV Editor at checkersaga and TCA member. Learn extra of his stuff right here. Observe him at his creatively-named Twitter deal with @alecbojalad
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