Don’t miss this – the must-see TV event of 2017

Thrilling sequel to BBC One's Blue Planet set to air in late 2017.

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Don’t miss this – the must-see TV event of 2017

 

Sixteen years ago, stunning sequences of blue whales, sardine bait balls and a deep-sea octopus called Dumbo wowed 10 million viewers in the UK and millions more around the world.

BBC One’s Blue Planet series set astonishing new standards in underwater filming. A generation later, it remains an influential benchmark in natural-history television. The multi-award-winning series is still on sale – including as a download, something unheard of when it first aired in 2001.

So when the BBC decided to produce a sequel, Blue Planet II, executive producer James Honeyborne and the rest of the production team knew they had to pull out all the stops. Like baby turtles racing over a beach to the ocean, they faced the challenge of their lives.

 

Watch the prequel of Blue Planet II: 

 

Tony Hall, BBC Director General, introduced the first hour-long episode of the new landmark series at its world premiere at the BFI IMAX cinema in London. Citing scientific studies, he said that “just watching these programmes makes you happier.”

In the audience was HRH Prince William and Sir David Attenborough – who narrated the original 2001 series and whose famous voice is set to delight viewers of the sequel.

Audible gasps from the premiere audience greeted the opening episode – as well as laughs and a few tears. Filmed in UHD (ultra-high-definition), the breathtaking image quality and sound is beyond the wildest dreams of the original producers over a decade and a half ago.

The series was four years in the making. Among many filming ‘firsts’, the film crews developed tow cams to track predatory fish speeding towards the camera and suction exams for mounting on the back of orcas and whale sharks. Their ‘megadome’ camera can film simultaneously above and below the surface.

"The oceans are the most exciting place to be right now," says Honeyborne, "because new scientific discoveries have given us a new perspective of life beneath the waves."

"Blue Planet II is taking its cue from these breakthroughs, unveiling unbelievable new places, extraordinary new behaviours and remarkable new creatures." 

 

Blue Planet II will be aired in late 2017 © Hugh Miller / BBC

 

Attenborough has a long love affair with marine film-making. Speaking to BBC Wildlife last year, he said his favourite object is the skeleton of a deep-sea yeti crab discovered in 2010. “It sits on my desk! It was collected from a hydrothermal vent at the bottom of the Atlantic near South Georgia. No human could ever survive alongside this marvellous little thing.”

In an interview in the Ecologist magazine, Attenborough said: “It wasn’t until the 50s that I first put on an aqualung, but when you do – here is the richest, the most diverse, the most beautiful, the most exciting, the least known of all earth’s ecosystems.”

Blue Planet II is a co-production between the BBC, BBC America, German public-service broadcaster WDR and France Télévisions.

Producers hope it will match the record audiences for Planet Earth II shown on BBC One in 2016 – the second episode was seen by 13.14 million people. Conservationists hope it will raise awareness of marine conservation issues, from plastic pollution to rising temperatures and acidification in the oceans.

The epic seven-episode series Blue Planet II starts on BBC One in late October.

 

Don’t miss the special BBC Wildlife Blue Planet II supplement – including exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews – free with the November issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine on sale from 25 October.

 

Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine

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