The BBC wildlife show Planet Earth II could not have come at a better time
BBC-bashing might be a popular sport, but the critics always go reliably mute when David Attenborough rolls out a new series. Enter Planet Earth II.
Sunday night brought the second instalment of his BBC One series, an episode so casually spectacular it began with shots of a snow leopard padding towards us over a mountain ledge, pausing to rub its chin on a rock. This is an animal so rare most wildlife experts would count themselves lucky to a few seconds of distant, grainy footage. This leopard presented itself with the relaxed intimacy of a Big Brother contestant nipping into the diary room to moan about the cold weather.
Cutting edge technology – including the use of unmanned drones and camera traps – means the makers of Planet Earth II can bring even the wildest animals closer than ever, whether it’s a bear emerging from a snowy hibernation den with three cubs, or a notoriously hard-to-film golden eagle soaring at 200mph down a mountainside with the speed of a video simulation.
The hours of footage gathered over three years in forty different locations (by some extremely patient cameramen) has been edited like an edge-of-your seat Sunday night drama, with its own individual characters and plotlines, showing the highs (see baby iguana vs. snake battle of episode 1), lows (a female snow leopard being brutally set upon by two males) and humour (the bear scratching its winter coat off against a tree with the wiggle of a pole dancer) of life as a wild animal.
The timing of Planet Earth II could not be more potent. During Donald Trump‘s election campaign he referred to global warming as a ‘Chinese hoax’ and threatened to tear up the crucial Paris climate change deal that Obama and other world leaders spent many months hammering out. If he follows through with his plans then Trump’s accession to power is terrible news for the planet.
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Attenborough (who when asked earlier this year, suggested we could ‘just shoot’ Trump) has pointed to the effects of global warming on the wildlife shown in the programme a few times, but he also knows the masterful footage speaks for itself. After all, if shots of a pole dancing bear won’t get your point across then nothing will.
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