Planet Earth

Genres: Wildlife/Nature, Documentary Series



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Season 1

Planet Earth is a British nature documentary series produced by the BBC and Discovery and narrated by David Attenborough which paints a portrait of our planet, providing an unparalleled view of the world's finest landscapes and incredible footage of creatures that could never be filmed in the wild before.

The series premiered in the UK on BBC One and BBC HD on 5 May, 2006. There are 11 hour-long episodes in the series, which is shot entirely in high definition (HD).

Planet Earth originally aired in South Africa on SABC3 from 2 July, 2006 to 11 February, 2007, on Sundays at 18h00. As in the UK, the first five episodes aired (2-30 July 2006) before the show went on hiatus to accommodate the filming of the final six episodes.

A repeat of the first five episodes aired on SABC3 from 3-31 December, 2006 and was immediately followed by the remaining six episodes, which aired from 7 January to 11 February, 2007.

The series later aired on DStv's Animal Planet channel from 19 October to 28 December, 2008, on Sundays at 14h15. New episodes broadcast weekly. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.

A rebroadcast of Planet Earth premiered on SABC3 on Sunday 12 May 2013, at 18h00. New episodes broadcast weekly.


A hundred years ago, there were one and a half billion people on Earth. Now, over six billion crowd our fragile planet. 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.

– David Attenborough's opening narration

Experience the planet as never before with the most ambitious factual series ever produced about the planet Earth.

Created by the BBC and shot entirely in high definition, this 11-part series is the ultimate portrait of the planet, providing an unparalleled view of the world's finest landscapes and incredible footage of creatures that could never be filmed in the wild before.

Four years in the making, 40 of the world's premiere wildlife cameramen travelled all over the planet, from the world's greatest rivers and impressive gorges to the mightiest mountains – from the hidden underground world of caves and caverns to vast deserts – to bring viewers a new perspective on some of the planet's most iconic habitats.

Imagine the Gobi Desert covered in snow; the view from the top of Angel Falls. Planet Earth contains long powerful sequences that have never been filmed before, delivering revelation and wonder in every episode.

Narrated by the legendary Sir David Attenborough and accompanied by a musical score from multiple Academy Award nominee George Fenton, Planet Earth blends the best of the visual and musical worlds to bring viewers unprecedented footage of some of nature's greatest spectacles.

Included are huge migrations caught on camera, sand storms and plagues of locusts filmed in full force, and animals and landscapes caught on film for the first time.

Planet Earth reveals that there is so much of the planet that has not yet been explored on television.


Episode 1: From Pole to Pole

The ultimate portrait of our planet looks at the key factors that shape our natural history. The sun and fresh water dominate the lives of all animals and plants on Earth and trigger seasonal migrations, small and large.

In the Arctic spring, a mother polar bear and cubs emerge from their winter den. They have just two weeks to cross the frozen sea before it melts and they become stranded. Share the most intimate and complete picture of polar bear life ever filmed.

For more than three years, time-lapse cameras captured the annual transformation created by the Okavango floods. The latest technology and aerial photography enables us to track some of the greatest mass migrations, following prey and predators on truly epic journeys.

Part 2: Mountains

Welcome to an extreme landscape of rock, ice and snow. We tour the mightiest mountain ranges, starting with the birth of a mountain at one of the lowest places on Earth and ending at the summit of Everest. Find out how some of the most secretive animals rise to the challenge of mountain life.

Share one of Earth's rarest phenomena, a lava lake that has been erupting for over 100 years. The same forces built the Simian Mountains where we find troops of gelada baboons nearly a thousand strong.

In the Rockies, grizzlies build winter dens inside avalanche-prone slopes and climb the peaks to devour abundant summer moths.

In another world first, the programme brings us astounding images of a snow leopard hunting on the Pakistan peaks.

Part 3: Freshwater

Fresh water is our most precious resource and it defines the distribution of life on land. Follow the descent of rivers from their mountain sources to the sea. Watch spectacular waterfalls, fly inside the Grand Canyon and explore the wildlife below the ice in the world's deepest lake.

Witness unique and dramatic moments of animal behaviour: a showdown between smooth-coated otters and mugger crocodiles; deep-diving long tailed macaques; massive flocks of snow geese on the wing and a piranha frenzy in the perilous waters of the world's largest wetland.

Part 4: Caves

The Cave of Swallows in Mexico is a 400m vertical shaft, deep enough to engulf the Empire State Building. The Lechuguilla cave system in the USA is 193km long and 500m deep with astonishing crystal formations hanging from its chambers.

Although often overlooked, caves are remarkable habitats with equally bizarre wildlife.

Cave angel fish cling to the walls behind cave waterfalls with microscopic hooks on their flattened fins. Cave swiftlets navigate by echo-location and build nests out of saliva. The Texas cave salamander has neither eyes nor pigment.

Unique access to a hidden world of stalactites, stalagmites, snotites and troglodytes brings a wealth of surprises.

Part 5: Deserts

Around 30% of the land's surface is desert, the most varied of our ecosystems despite the lack of rain.

Unravel the secrets of desert survival and experience the ephemeral nature of this dynamic environment. Watch Saharan sandstorms nearly a mile high and desert rivers that run for a single day.

In the Gobi Desert, rare Bactrian camels get moisture from the snow. In the Atacama, guanacos survive by licking dew off cactus spines. In the USA, the brief blooming of Death Valley triggers a plague of locusts 65km wide and 160km long.

A unique aerial voyage over the Namibian desert reveals elephants on a long trek for food and desert lions searching for wandering oryx.

Part 6: Ice Worlds

The Arctic and Antarctic experience the most extreme seasons on Earth. Time-lapse cameras watch a colony of emperor penguins, transforming them into a single organism. The film reveals new science about the dynamics of emperor penguin behaviour.

In the north, unique aerial images show a polar bear swimming more than 100km. Diving for up to two minutes at a time. The exhausted polar bear later attacks a herd of walrus in a true clash of the Titans.

Part 7: Great Plains

After filming for three years, Planet Earth finally captures the shy Mongolian gazelle. Only a handful of people have witnessed its annual migration.

Don't miss the bizarre-looking Tibetan fox, captured on film for the first time. Over six weeks the team follow a pride of 30 lions as they attempt to hunt elephants. Using the latest night vision equipment, the crew film the chaotic battles that ensue at close quarters.

Part 8: Jungles

Jungles cover roughly three per cent of our planet yet contain 50 per cent of the world's species. High-definition cameras enable unprecedented views of animals living on the dark jungle floor.

In the Ngogo forest the largest chimpanzee group in the world defends its territory from neighbouring groups. Other jungle specialists include parasitic fungi which infiltrate an insect host, feed on it, and then burst out of its body.

Part 9: Shallow Seas

A humpback whale mother and calf embark on an epic journey from tropical coral paradises to storm ravaged polar seas.

Newly discovered coral reefs in Indonesia reveal head-butting pygmy seahorses, flashing 'electric' clams and bands of sea kraits, 30-strong, which hunt in packs.

Elsewhere plagues of sea urchins fell forests of giant kelp. Huge bull fur seals attack king penguins, who despite their weight disadvantage, put up a spirited defence.

Part 10: Seasonal Forests

The Taiga forest, on the edge of the Arctic, is a silent world of stunted conifers. The trees may be small but filming from the air reveals its true scale. A third of all trees on Earth grow here and during the short summer they produce enough oxygen to change the atmosphere.

In California General Sherman, a giant sequoia, is the largest living thing on the planet, ten times the size of a blue whale.

The oldest organisms alive are bristlecone pines. At more than 4,000 years old they pre-date the pyramids. But the baobab forests of Madagascar are perhaps the strangest of all.

Part 11: Ocean Deep

Life goes to extraordinary lengths to survive this immense realm. A 30-tonne whale shark gorges on a school of fish and the unique overhead heli-gimbal camera reveals common dolphins rocketing at more than 30km an hour.

Descending into the abyss, deep sea octopus fly with wings and vampire squid use bioluminescence to create an extraordinary colour display.

The first ever time-lapse footage taken from 2,000m down captures eels, crabs and giant isopods eating a carcass, completely consuming it within three hours.

Planet Earth Firsts

Animal Behaviour

Wolves Hunting Caribou - a complete hunt filmed from the air. The speed with which wolves chase their prey makes it impossible to keep up with the action from the land but by using a new system to stabilise the camera in the air the crew were able to follow all the action from a helicopter for the very first time.

Snow Leopard hunting Markhaur (a mountain goat) in the Himalayas - until their eventual success nobody had ever filmed Snow leopards on the wild in close-up with a long lens. The only previous images were obtained with remote cameras. There is a complete sequence with a variety of different behaviours, including intimate images of mother and cub.

Golden Eagles taking Demoiselle cranes on the wing as they migrate over the Himalayas.

Grizzly Bears in the Rockies emerging from their dens in the Rockies with new born cubs plus unique images of grizzly bears feeding on moths.

Remarkable new images displaying birds of paradise captured with a low light camera including the blue bird of paradise - never filmed in the wild before.

Footage of a new species of blind cave fish in Thailand.

Desert lions hunting oryx in the Namib Desert - filmed from both the land and the air for the very first time.

Pink River Dolphins herding fish in the Amazon and presenting stones as 'gifts' during courtship - the only known use of tools by wild dolphins.

Over a hundred Sailfish hunting together. To see one of these beautiful billfish is extraordinary.

Crab-eating macaques that swim underwater.

Packs of Hunting Dogs - their spectacular hunting behaviour filmed from the air for the very first time.

New Locations

The remote island of Kong Karls Land in Spitzbergen. Unique access to the breeding ground of the world's highest densities of polar bears.

The Gobi Desert in the midst of winter, covered in snow.

The world's deepest cave shaft - the Cave of Swallows in Mexico.

The depths of Lake Malawi - home to electric fish that hunt their prey in shark-like packs.

Under the ice in Lake Baikal - the world's largest lake freezes over for five months of the year. The cameras dive under the ice for the very first time to reveal a world more like an ocean than a lake.

The first high definition images from inside the remarkable Lecheguilla cave system - the world's most beautiful cave system, only discovered in 1986.

The first high quality aerials of Everest.

Unique access to the Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan which contains more of the world's highest peaks than anywhere else on the planet.

The Tepuis in Venezuela - isolated mountain plateaus that inspired Conan Doyle's The Lost World.

New Techniques

A revolutionary new aerial photography system that can stabilise very powerful lens to film animal behaviour from the air as never before.

Ultra-high speed cameras capture great white sharks taking their seal prey and crocodiles grabbing wildebeest.

Time-lapse photography of tropical storms filmed from the air for the very first time. Time-lapse of sand storms in the Sahara, the cherry blossom in Japan, the Fall in the United States, the flood coming to the Okavango Swamps.

High definition images from space - only from space can you appreciate the scale of the Himalayas or the extent of the Amazon River. In every episode, Planet Earth provides this remarkable new high definition perspective on our planet.

The original version of Planet Earth was narrated by Sir David Attenborough. In the American version he was replaced by Sigourney Weaver.

Planet Earth is the first natural history series to be filmed entirely in high definition. The series took five years to make.


Note: rebroadcast dates included

Season 1 (11 episodes)

Channel: SABC3 | Premiere: 2 Jul 2006 | Finale: 11 Feb 2007 | Sundays, 18h00
Channel: Animal Planet | Premiere: 19 Oct 2008 | Finale: 28 Dec 2008 | Sundays, 14h15
Channel: SABC3 | Premiere: 12 May 2013 | Finale: 28 Jul 2013 | Sundays, 18h00

Season 1 Cast

Narrator (Original Version)

Narrator (US Version)


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