Planet Earth 2: Everything you need to know about David Attenborough's new BBC show - release date, start time, number of episodes

Shot in 40 different countries over 117 filming trips

Jack Shepherd
Sunday 06 November 2016 17:23 GMT
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Trailer for Planet Earth II

When it first aired, Planet Earth was groundbreaking. Featuring incredible shots of previously unfilled species - and national treasure Sir David Attenborough narrating - the series was a critical and commercial success.

Finally, a decade later, and further episodes are being released. With Attenborough back as host and having already said “the technology and the shots are unparalleled,” it's fair to say there’s a lot of excitement for the series.

Wondering what Planet Earth II will consist of, start time, how it was filmed? Look no further as we have summarised everything you need to know about the show.

Release date and how to watch

Planet Earth II starts tonight - Sunday, 6 November 2016 - a 8pm and will continue every Sunday on BBC One.

How many episodes will there be and what will each focus on?

Unlike the first series which consisted of eleven episodes, the second will only feature six, the first of which is titled “Islands” and, according to the synopses, will focus on the “planet's strangest and rarest creatures” living on remote islands. It continues: “The rare pygmy three-toed sloth enjoys a peaceful existence on an idyllic Caribbean island, while nesting albatross thrive in predator-free isolation.”

A shot from Planet Earth II (BBC)

The subsequent titles include, in the following order: Mountains, Jungles, Deserts, Grasslands, and Cities.

Who composed the score?

None other than Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer, best known for writing the music to The Lion King, Gladiator, The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar and 12 Years a Slave. Not bad.

What have we seen so far?

Planet Earth II - Extended Trailer

The BBC have released only snippets from the show so far, the main being the full-length trailer, narrated by Attenborough and featuring Sigur Ros’s music.

What has David Attenborough said while promoting the series?

At the ripe age of 90 (!!), Sir Attenborough has spoken increasingly highly about the series. “You couldn’t do those shots 10 years ago,” he said in one recent interview, commenting on the newly developed technology.

He has also spoken candidly about our need to preserve nature programming, telling an audience in Bristol: “I seriously think that wildlife programming and film-making is of crucial importance to the future of the world… If the natural world is in peril we are in peril. People should be aware of the way the natural world works to understand when they’re damaging it.”

He added in another interview: “Since we depend on the natural world, understanding it is absolutely paramount. Television can provide that link better than ever before.”

The technology

A hot from Planet Earth II (BBC)

As the show will no doubt make clear, the filmmakers have used the latest technology to get these incredible shots. Since the last series, camera stability, drone control and remote recording have all improved dramatically. Planet Earth II will also mark the first BBC series to have been produced in Ultra-high-definition, or 4K.

How long did it take to film?

Whereas some TV shows are finished in a matter of months, Planet Earth II was shot in 40 different countries, with crews making 117 filming trips. Shooting days totted up to 2,089, or just over 5.7 years non-stop.

While each “making of” segment will give further details into how they were filmed, we already know that to film on Zavodovsi Island in Antarctica took a year of planning and put the crew members’ lives at risk. Meanwhile, another crew spent five months over two years camped out in the Okavango Delta to snap swamp Lions taking on Cape Buffalo.

Anything else?

There’s a lot to learn in Planet Earth II, both about the animals featured and the workings behind the show. One of the snippets you may miss, though, is a rather brilliant video of one of the cameramen coming back to his Indonesian hotel to find a Komodo dragon in the toilet. Watch here.

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