If the first programme of the BBC nature series Secrets of Our Living Planet is anything to go by I think the BBC has another major ward winning wildlife programme in its portfolio. The series, presented by Chris Packham, is both educational and entertaining presenting the science of ecology in an easily understandable but not condescending manner.
This first programme was entitled the Emerald Band and took us on a journey into the synergistic relationships that can be found between the plants and animals in the tropical forests of South America, Central Africa and the islands of Asia.
The moment to savour in the first programme for me was the sight of the humming birds in slow motion as they fed on the sugar solution at the nectar feeder. The quality of the filming really set the scene for the entire programme.
Having a passionate and knowledgeable presenter in Chris Packham lifted the programme to one of the best nature programmes that I have seen in recent years. The programme certainly matched anything that was presented by David Attenborough and it demonstrates that when the BBC gets it right they are be unmatched by any other nature film-maker in the world.
The ease at which Chris presented the science demonstrates his ability as a communicator and you just know that when he said got up early to go bird watching you just know that he’s done it. When he says he’s seen or heard 75 species of birds in the five hours he’s been wandering around the jungle you know that, unlike some presenters, he’s not just ‘parachuted’ into the location to do the filming and then disappear off to the hotel.
The complexities of the rainforest ecosystem can not be summed up in just an hour but the examples used were ideal. We had the high profile favourite animals of elephants and orang-outangs and the importance that they play in spreading the seeds of trees. The programme then went on to step up the complexities of forest relationships with the brazil nut tree.
Chris demonstrated, with the help of some pink flags and fishing wire, the range of species that are essential to the survival of the brazil nut tree. From the orchid that grows on the tree to the highly specialised bees required for fertilizing the brazil tree seeds to the specialised rodent that disperses and plants the nuts.
The camera work and the presentation really came together and there’s no doubt that the BBC wildlife unit will continue to have a bright future in the production of high quality serious nature programmes even after the Sir David Attenborough era.
The Secrets of our Living Planet has to score a 5 out of 5 for me and roll on next week where we’ll discover more about the grasslands of the world.