Been watching Planet Earth Live? If you like wildlife documentaries, don’t. It’s not what it could or should be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all very nice, but it’s all very been done before. You’ll learn nothing new. In fact, I’ll be surprised if you learn anything. First of all, the presenters haven’t got a clue. I’m not going to slate them personally, as they’re very good in their comfort zones, but sadly this isn’t one of them. Particularly Richard Hammond who appears to be in Total Wipeout mode, and more interested in reminding you that he’s basically on a free holiday in Africa, than anything else. Julia Bradbury is doing her best, but has all the emotion of someone who’s discovering the script as she’s reading it. Probably for a reason. And do we really need the presenter going “aaaahhh, aaahhhh, aaaahhh” at the site of a bear cub? It’s acceptable in The One Show or Blue Peter, but for God’s sake, this is a wildlfie documentary that’s essentially based around baby animals. What did you expect to see? Why these presenters? I have a theory. The reason Auntie Beeb have chosen these guys is because all the actual wildlife experts have gone “no, I’m not doing that, it’s empty.” That is only a theory, but it makes sense. I’d much prefer to see Chris Packham and Charlotte Uhlenbroek. But there you go.
Then the stars- Grey Whales, Meerkats, Lions, Elephants. Good to see they’re introducing us to animals that we don’t know much about! I love wildlife, and have nothing against these species, but talk about playing it safe. Next series will be Hamsters, Guinea Pigs, Goldfish and Chihuahuas. If you’ve seen Meerkat Manor, Big Cat Diary, Life Of Mammals or Great Migrations, you’re not going to find anything new. Also, why is it live? Most of it isn’t anyway, through necessity. In wildlife-documentary-land, live only works if it’s set in the country it’s being aired in- because you have reference points. It’s accessible. When you’re sitting in Birmingham watching animals in Africa, the fact that it’s live is lost. It lacks the I-could-get-in-the-car-and-see-this-for-myself-right-now factor. And dumbed down? Is there anybody that actually needs to be told that Black Bear cubs (or any other) have less fur than their mother, or that if they get too cold it could be disastrous? My personal favourite was when Julia Bradbury tried to excuse her gushings over the aforementioned bear cub by saying that it was a really emotional ride for her, because she’s a first time mother. Presumably she was guilt-ridden at having left behind the baby that apparently means so much. I can’t wait til the bit where we discover that Grey Whales live in water, or that African Elephants are big and grey!
To sum up, the programme would be perfectly fine if they marketed it differently. It’s great as a kids show, but of little use to adults. If you like watching wildlife progs, and forget the information in them, then I suppose you could enjoy it. However if you’ve recently enjoyed watching Madagascar, Frozen Planet, or even Earthflight you’re going to find it lacking. If you’re a fan of Spring/Autumn/Winter Watch, you’ll find it in need of expertise. If you are a fan of Sir David Attenborough’s work you are going to be writing stern letters to anyone that’ll listen!
Honestly, if this is how wildlife docs are going to be made fomr now on, ALL of Sir David’s incredible work and innovation will have been wasted. We need to find somebody who has the charisma, knowledge and passion to make programmes of DA’s calibre. Not find a new version, but somebody who does it well, and can continue to develop their own style over time. Somebody else who’s name can become synonymous with good quality nature programmes. Preferably somebody not already on TV so that we don’t prejudge. Someone with the ability to explain things in a way that you don’t realise you’re learning. Someone that can tell you why we need to protect, preserve and conserve without either patronising or preaching. And if Planet Earth Live is anything to go by, we need to find them fast.