Exploring the Making of Planet Earth III: A Conversation with BBC Producer Mike Gunton

Sir David Attenborough © Mark Harrison

The legendary 97-year-old broadcaster and three-time Emmy® Award-winner Sir David Attenborough returns to TV screens to present the groundbreaking and cinematic landmark natural history series Planet Earth III. The new series is the third installment in the critically acclaimed and multi-Emmy® Award-winning Planet Earth series.

Filmed in 43 countries (including Canada) and across six continents over nearly five years, the eight-part series, plus a ‘Making Of’ special, follows some of the world’s most amazing animal characters, uncovering new species, behaviours, and filming firsts.

Executive producer Mike Gunton shares what working on the iconic BBC Earth series has been like.

How does Planet Earth III build upon the previous series of Planet Earth?

The first series of Planet Earth was about witnessing our planet’s wonderful spectacle and awe-inspiring beauty and taking the viewer to the last remaining areas of wilderness that were still untouched by humanity.

Planet Earth II was about connecting the viewer intimately with the animals, being alongside them, and experiencing their triumphs and struggles.

Planet Earth III is about the resilience and adaptability of nature and the remarkable animals changing their lives to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world dominated by a powerful force: us. It’s full of surprise and wonder but seen from a new perspective.

Did you have any unique wildlife encounters during filming for this series?

My answer might surprise you because it doesn’t involve a remote location or an exotic species. It was actually a very simple moment. Our final day of filming for the series was with Sir David Attenborough in a quintessential English flower meadow on a sunny late summer’s day.

It was the very meadow that Charles Darwin used to observe and explore while he ruminated on his theories about the natural world and evolution. The meadow was alive with bees and insects, grasshoppers were singing out their melodies all around us, and there was an abundance of butterflies floating in the warm air. Both David and I said it was truly magical, and it gave me hope that if we can protect and restore and allow nature to work its miracles, then future generations will be able to experience that magic for many years to come.

© BBC Studios

What was it like to work with Sir David Attenborough again?

It was a privilege, as always. David was able to bring the wisdom, enthusiasm, knowledge, and, in places, the fun we needed for this series. At 97, he still possesses a unique ability to immediately captivate the viewer with his presence and words. He was passionate about the stories we needed to tell and wanted to be part of the show from the outset.

What do you hope personally that people will take away from this new series?

We are pushing species, habitats, and individual animals to the brink of their ability to survive and adapt, but the natural world has an extraordinary capacity to heal itself if we give it a chance. We need to make space, make sacrifices, and use our remarkable human ingenuity and creativity to bring change for the benefit of these wild places, wild animals, and ourselves.

Planet Earth III airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on BBC Earth in Canada during the channel’s nationwide free preview event. BBC Earth is also available via Prime Video Channels, with Planet Earth III now available to stream.

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