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25/09/2017

BBC Confirms Natural History Commissions

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A total of five new Natural History commissions are to be made for BBC One and BBC Two it has been announced.

The five programmes are Big Cats (w/t), Jumbo: The Life Of An Elephant Superstar (w/t), First Year On Earth, T Rex, and Wild Cities, and each will merge animal interactions, along with cutting-edge photography and compelling storytelling.

Tom McDonald, BBC Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual, said: "It has been a brilliant 12 months for Natural History at the BBC with Planet Earth II, Spy In The Wild and Wild Alaska Live among the very many highlights which have delivered huge viewing figures. These new titles will combine never-before seen animal interactions, cutting-edge photography, brilliant storytelling and expert voices to surprise, delight and inform the audience in completely new ways. At the heart of each of these commissions is is innovation: in form, in content and in capture."

All BBC One series were also commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director TV Content and iPlayer. All BBC Two series were also commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two.

Big Cats (working title) is a three-part series for BBC One and will celebrate the entire cat family; from the big cats to the surprising small ones. Cats are naturally secretive, elusive and cryptic animals. Only now have the latest developments in filming technology, and a surge in feline research, enabled further study. Highlights will include a stabilised super slow motion camera mounted on an all-terrain buggy getting up close to a sprinting cheetah; while on a beach in Costa Rica, a military grade thermal camera unveils the nocturnal hunting activity of a jaguar. In addition, highly sensitive low light cameras record the first ever wild images of the black footed cat, the smallest but deadliest cat in Africa.

The 3x60' series for BBC One is a BBC Studios' Natural History Unit Production for BBC and PBS, co-produced with France Télévisions. The Executive Producer is Mike Gunton, and the Series Producer is Gavin Boyland. The Commissioning Editor is Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History, Science and Specialist Factual.

Jumbo: The Life Of An Elephant Superstar (working title) will follow Sir David Attenborough as he investigates the life and death of the world's most famous elephant – an animal superstar who inspired the movie Dumbo – with unique access to Jumbo's skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

David will work with a team of scientists, conservationists and elephant experts to unravel the complex and dramatic history of what many thought was the largest elephant in the world. How big was he in reality? What clues can be found in Jumbo's bones? How did he live and how did he die?

Arriving at London Zoo in 1865, Jumbo became a firm favourite of Queen Victoria and her children. However, behind the scenes, this elephant was living a double life; smashing his den, breaking his tusks and being pacified by large amounts of alcohol. Then, suddenly, London Zoo caused public outrage by selling Jumbo to PT Barnum's circus in America, where he travelled with his keeper to start a new life. His time in America would turn him into star with 20 million people coming to see him, but his life ended tragically and mysteriously.

As well as Jumbo's skeleton, David explores the lives of wild elephants to explain Jumbo's troubled mind, and he discovers how society's attitude to captive elephants has changed in recent years.

Jumbo: The Life Of An Elephant Superstar (w/t) is a 1x60' for BBC One and is made by Humble Bee Films and Infield Fly Productions for BBC and CBC. The Executive Producers are Stephen Dunleavy and Dugald Maudsley, and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Craig Hunter.

First Year On Earth explores the first year in an animal's life, which is said to be the most challenging it will experience.

The 3x60 series will follow six different wild animal babies across their first 12 months. They are a leopard cub, a baby mountain gorilla, an infant African elephant, a baby toque macaque, a black bear cub and a sea otter pup.

Working alongside long-term scientific studies, camera operators Susan Gibson, Vianet Djenguet and Colin Stafford Johnson will gain access to the infants' world and follow them across the year. The experts' knowledge will help film new scientific revelations, capture the animals' behaviour and follow emotional stories.

The series will see a baby mountain gorilla in Uganda learning to climb thin branches to get food which is a dangerous job for such a heavy animal. An otter pup is kidnapped by a male, who holds it to ransom for food, while a baby elephant must learn the infrasound language of its group. A macaque gets a shock when it starts to become independent of its mother and discovers its place in the hierarchy.

First Year On Earth for BBC Two is a BBC Studios' Natural History Unit Production for BBC and PBS. The Executive Producer is Mike Gunton and the Series Producer is Rupert Barrington. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Craig Hunter.

T Rex will be hosted by naturalist Chris Packham as he embarks on a journey to discover the truth behind the T Rex, which has endured centuries of inaccuracy and misrepresentation fuelled by films and gaps in our scientific understanding.

Meeting international experts, Chris will travel the globe to reveal insights into not just what T Rex looked like but into its behaviour, exposing the beast behind the myth. With both a new understanding of palaeontology, zoology and the latest technology, Chris will then attempt to create the most accurate CGI representation of the T-Rex ever produced.

In order to bring the T Rex to life, Chris will have access to 'Tristan', the fullest Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil in the world, as well as the latest scientific research to help reconstruct the brain, voice and the full force of its bone-crushing jaws.

T Rex for BBC Two is a co-production between Talesmith and Cineflix. The Executive Producer is Martin Williams and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Diene Petterle.

Wild Cities is a series revealing the world's wildlife living in the newest and fastest changing habitat on the planet – human cities.

Building on the final episode of Planet Earth II, this series will feature a diverse cast of animals that are adjusting to this new world, applying their natural born skills and abilities to life in the city, but also making amazing physical or behavioural adaptations.

With an emphasis on beauty and high cinematographic standards, this series on urban wildlife behaviour will follow animals at critical times of their lives, and showcase the urban world with the same scale, ambition and techniques used to film the natural world.

From humpback whales breaching in New York's Hudson Bay to huge colonies of megabats in Adelaide; from golden jackals hunting in Tel Aviv to bald eagles that soar through Vancouver, viewers will experience familiar cities through fresh eyes.

Wild Cities is a 3x60' for BBC Two and is a BBC Studios' Natural History Unit Production for BBC and PBS. The Executive Producer is Roger Webb and the Series Producer is Matt Brandon. The Commissioning Editor is Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual.

www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre

(JP/MH)
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