The 92-year-old broadcaster, who has for decades been synonymous with BBC nature documentaries, will record the voiceover for Netflix’s new eight-part series. Due to be released in April, “Our Planet” is produced by Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, both of whom worked alongside Attenborough on BBC projects including “Planet Earth” and “The Blue Planet.”
The “Our Planet” team have spent four years filming across 50 different countries for the series, which was initially announced in 2015.
According to the Guardian, Attenborough has explained that “‘Our Planet’ will take viewers on a spectacular journey of discovery showcasing the beauty and fragility of our natural world.” He said, “Today we have become the greatest threat to the health of our home but there’s still time for us to address the challenges we’ve created if we act now. We need the world to pay attention.”
The Netflix series was created in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading independent conservation organization. This enabled the team to access more filming locations, as well as securing them invaluable insight and advice.
In the past, Attenborough has received criticism for his approach to environmentalism. With some accusing the presenter of “downplaying” the issues the planet currently faces in his programs, and in some cases maybe even misrepresenting them. However, according to Colin Butfield of the WWF – who served as an executive producer on the new Netflix series – “Our Planet” leaves viewers aware of gritty important environmental issues, such as overfishing and deforestation.
He said, “I’ve never seen a natural history series that combines real stuff you’ve never seen before but that always has a really, really great narrative in each episode. It’s not at all preachy, it’s spectacular mass public entertainment, but by the end you are absolutely aware of the challenge of climate change and overfishing and deforestation.”
The series does also appear to have a political motive; according to Butfield, “Our Planet” will be made available on the same day around the world – something possible only with Netflix, and not traditional TV channels – in a bid to influence governments across the globe.
“I can’t think of a better platform that will reach that many people at the same time,” he explained. “For this particular one it’s all about having that global moment. It’s hard to get a programme on lots of national broadcasters at the same time. Whether it’s London or Delhi or Rio or Washington, we want it out at exactly the same time.”
While “Our Planet” will only be viewable by subscribing Netflix members, other material produced alongside each episode will be made available online for free. Butfield explained this decision, saying, “Our motive is educational and [improving] public understanding of the natural world. [It] is telling a much bigger, deeper story about the state of the planet and how nature can recover.”
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