David Attenborough is to present one last series of the BBC’s award-winning natural history programme Planet Earth. This outing of the epic homage to nature’s variety will be the concluding part of a trilogy.
“Planet Earth wouldn’t be Planet Earth without David, so I’m delighted he is presenting the third series,” says Mike Gunton, Planet Earth III’s executive producer. “As ever, he has brought his huge enthusiasm and wisdom, has been encouraging about our new perspective and has, I know, really enjoyed seeing the extraordinary new wonders brought to the screen.”
Filming on the series has already begun, including footage of Attenborough on location in Britain. The series will start with the 97-year-old presenter following in the footsteps of one of his personal heroes.
“The opening of the series with David was filmed in the beautiful British countryside in exactly the location where Charles Darwin used to walk while thinking over his Earth-shaking ideas about evolution,” says Gunton.
“It seemed the perfect place for David to introduce Planet Earth III and remind us of the wonders and the fragility of our planet.”
Attenborough’s participation in the series comes despite reports that his previous BBC series, Wild Isles – which aired in March – would be his last on-location shoot. Filming at sites such as Skomer Island off the west coast of Wales involved the presenter being accompanied by a doctor with a defibrillator each time he made the climb up the 87 steep concrete steps from the landing jetty to the top of Skomer Island.
Producers also claimed that they had to change their filming plans due to fears that placing Attenborough too close to the seabirds they intended to shoot could potentially end up killing the nonagenarian – due to an avian flu outbreak on the neighbouring island of Grassholm.
“I have an old friend who’s an expert on infectious diseases and I rang him up for his opinion,” says Wild Isles series producer Alastair Fothergill. “He said: ‘Well, bird flu is actually extremely hard to catch, but if he [Attenborough] gets it, he will die.”
Planet Earth is one of the BBC’s most popular natural history franchises. Previous instalments have won numerous awards including Baftas and Royal Television Society awards. The third and final series will consist of eight hour-long episodes and will air later this year on BBC One.