Sir David Attenborough is one of the most famous naturalists in history — over his decades-long broadcasting career, he helped introduce audiences to the wonders of the natural world through his iconic documentaries.
At 96, he’s still going strong — and fans got some exciting news this week when it was announced that there is going to be a third Planet Earth documentary series, with Attenborough returning as host and narrator.
The original Planet Earth premiered in 2006, and its sequel Planet Earth II aired in 2016. Each episode of the nature documentary explores a different biome or habitat, such as deserts, oceans and polar regions, and shows viewers — through stunning footage — how wildlife survives in these ecosystems.
Sir David Attenborough narrated both series (although some international versions have different narrators — Sigourney Weaver presented Planet Earth in the US), providing insights with his authoritative expertise.
“A hundred years ago, there were one and a half billion people on Earth. Now, over six billion crowd our fragile planet,” Attenborough introduces the original series. “But even so, there are still places barely touched by humanity. This series will take you to the last wildernesses and show you the planet and its wildlife as you have never seen them before.”
For many people, Attenborough is synonymous with the classic documentary series and it wouldn’t be the same without him. A third Planet Earth series was announced in 2019, but it wasn’t clear if Attenborough, now 96, would return again.
But now, it’s confirmed that Attenborough will return as the presenter and narrator of Planet Earth III, due to release sometime this year.
“Planet Earth wouldn’t be Planet Earth without David, so I’m delighted he is presenting the third series,” executive producer Mike Gunton said in a BBC press release. “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.”
Attenborough has reportedly already filmed his opening in the British countryside, and was blessed with unusually good weather on the day of filming.
“The opening of the series with David was filmed in the beautiful British countryside in exactly the location where Charles Darwin used to walk whilst thinking over his Earth-shaking ideas about evolution,” Gunton said. “It seemed the perfect place for David to introduce Planet Earth III and remind us of both the wonders and the fragility of our planet… and for him, of course, the sun shined under blue skies one of the only days it did all summer.”
Planet Earth III will premiere on BBC One this year; it will consist of eight hour-long episodes. It is reported to be the final Planet Earth series, concluding a trilogy. Exact dates and international airing information will presumably be announced in the coming months.
When Planet Earth premiered in 2006, it was the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC and the first to broadcast in HD; it gave viewers an unprecedented look at nature and wildlife from around the globe. It won four Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award, and attracted high ratings.
The sequel Planet Earth II received equal acclaim and the two are regarded as some of the best nature documentaries ever. They received acclaim for showing the delicate balance of ecosystems that could be impacted by humans.
“Never have our wildernesses been as fragile and as precious as they are today,” Attenborough says in the intro to Planet Earth II. “At this crucial time for the natural world we will journey to every corner of the globe; to explore the greatest treasures of our living planet, and reveal the extreme lengths animals go to to survive.”
Sir David Attenborough is regarded as a national treasure in the UK and one of the most influential naturalists of his time. He has been presenting nature documentaries with the BBC since the 1950s; his work includes the Life series, Zoo Quest, Wildlife on One and Natural World. He also narrated the Netflix series Our Planet.
Planet Earth is one of the most awe-inspiring documentary series and we’ve been waiting years for the third installment — we’re so happy to hear that Sir David Attenborough is back to present and narrate this important series!
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