Attenborough, Darwin and Obama

by Matthew Cobb

The new BBC series Planet Earth II, narrated by David Attenborough, airs in the UK on Sunday. I was lucky enough to chair a session at the Manchester Science Festival last week at which two of the film-makers, Chadden Hunter and Emma Brennand, presented some extracts from the series and talked about the challenges of filming wildlife (Emma brought along a big long stick that was used for keeping Komodo dragons away from the film-makers while filming them), and the new technology they employed (in particular drones and HD camera traps). Attenborough’s contribution is nowhere near as direct as in his earlier series (he is 90, after all), and he doesn’t appear on location in any of the scenes. Nonetheless, this promises to be a moving and powerful presentation of life on our planet.

To mark this event, here are fours videos, some of which you may have seen. The first is the extended trailer – put it on fullscreen and turn up the sound! Lots of fantastic kitteh action here.

Then the short, TV trailer:

Next is a nice piece with Attenborough talking about Darwin, recorded last year:

Finally, here’s Attenborough’s interview with Obama, from last year. Obama looks and sounds pretty knackered at the beginning – not surprising given his job – but he warms up over the 20 or so minutes.



  1. Frank Bath
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I am so looking forward to seeing these programmes. Luckily I live in the UK.
    Back in the 60’s I had the good luck to live opposite David Attenborough, his garden ended where ours began, and once in a while I dared to watch him through my bird watching binoculars. (I feel bad about that now.)

    • Chris G
      Posted November 3, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Wow Frank, did you really live opposite Sir D Attenborough in the 60’s? Was that somewhere in Leicestershire?
      Intrigued to know what you saw through those binos, but best not ask.
      The new series looks truly incredible, really looking forward to it starting Sunday.
      Had to re-watch the giraffe/lion collision a dozen times just now, amazing stuff.
      These wonderful natural-history film-makers must wet themselves when they capture footage like that (do we still have ‘footage’ in this digital age??)
      I was wondering if the US has an equivalent of Attenborough? Or have you just been happy to share our treasure for the last few decades?
      We’re fine to continue to share btw, but please, we really don’t want to share Trump, tvm.
      Ah, maybe you don’t want him either. But I’ve developed this horrible Brexit type feeling about next Tuesday. Please Baby J, nooooooo!
      Chris G (Sussex, UK)
      P.S. Yes, I was mocking christianity, ban me – my international gymnastics career is coming to an end anyway!
      P.P.S. that’s at least three WEIT posts I’ve referenced, go me!

  2. Rick
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Wow! CGI has improved so much since the first Jurassic Park film!

    • Posted November 5, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Does everybody know what “CGI” refers to? I didn’t 2 minutes ago. Guess I’m out of touch.

  3. Kev
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    In my view CGI should only be used in documentaries and election Videos. Hollywood would only use it to distort the truth!

  4. rickflick
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    It should be good.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Damn, PE II looks great. It’s also good to see Attenborough still spry and sharp at 90.

    For no linearly connected reason I can identify, his interview with Obama made me think of my favorite bit of entertainment BHO has done from the White House — this appearance on Jerry Seinfeld’s show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Seinfeld comes over to pick him up in a ’63 Corvette Stingray. Slays me when JS walks up to the big bay window behind Barry’s desk in the Oval Office, raps on the glass, and gives him the “Hurry up, I’m waiting out here” gesture. The show is Barack at his smartest, funniest, and coolest –this side of his annual appearances at the White House correspondents’ dinner, anyway.

  6. Darren Garrison
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    “Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?”

    • bric
      Posted November 3, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Mary, Mel and Sue?

  7. Posted November 3, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Just picked up Attenborough’s series Life Story on Blu-ray for £4.99.

  8. Posted November 3, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I have many complaints about Democrats and Obama, but it *is* nice to see a president who can have such an interesting guest without second guessing things.

    • Posted November 5, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      I agree on both counts. I did have the feeling that Obama not only had trouble looking Attenborough in the eye, but in supporting Sir David’s own intense look.

  9. Posted November 3, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    That’s a classic passage at the close of “Origin of Species” that Attenborough is reading, but I only recently learned that the phrase “breathed by their Creator” appears in only the 4th through 6th editions of OrgSpec, but not in the first three.


    Come to think of it, David’s brother, Richard Attenborough had a starring role in “Jurassic Park” so now I guess they’ve both been in movies with large semi-reptilian creatures. More to learn from this one, though.

  11. Posted November 3, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Can we haz more Obama, pleez?

    The man is so obviously intelligent, well-read, experienced, wise. (The contrast with a certain orange Klingon could not be more stark!)

    • Pali
      Posted November 4, 2016 at 4:53 am | Permalink

      Hey now, the Klingons deserve better than that. Trump is clearly a Ferengi who doesn’t have the lobes. 😉

  12. Rupinder
    Posted November 4, 2016 at 2:57 am | Permalink

    Attenborough’s reading of the last lines of Darwin’s magnum opus is quite moving. Thanks for posting, looking forward to Planet Earth II!

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