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Sir David Attenborough to present major new series on UK wildlife for BBC One

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Wild Isles (working title) is a major new five part natural history series from Silverback Films for BBC One and iPlayer, that aims to do for the wildlife of Britain and Ireland what the Planet series have done for the wildlife of the world.

Presented by Sir David Attenborough, co-produced by The Open University, the RSPB and WWF, and filmed over three years, the series uses the very latest technology to capture dramatic new behaviour, from battling butterflies to hunting sea eagles and killer whales – revealing a previously unseen wild side of the British Isles.

Sir David says: “In my long lifetime, I have travelled to almost every corner of our planet. I can assure you that in the British Isles, as well as astonishing scenery there are extraordinary animal dramas and wildlife spectacles to match anything I have seen on my global travels.”

The five part series will have an introductory episode, explaining why Britain and Ireland are globally important for nature, while the remaining four episodes will celebrate our isles’ four key habitats – woodlands, grasslands, freshwater and marine.

Britain and Ireland have some of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes on Earth. We have more ancient oak trees than the rest of Europe put together; sixty percent of the world’s chalk streams flow in southern England; our remaining flower meadows are a vital refuge for breeding birds and butterflies; and our coasts are home to internationally important numbers of seabirds. Yet our wildlife is increasingly fragmented and fragile – this series explains the challenges nature faces today, and what can be done to make our wild isles even wilder in the future.

The series will be packed with new behaviour filmed all around the country. We will see gulls steal fish from puffins off Northumberland; wild horses battling for access to females in Cambridgeshire; black grouse and hen harriers courting in the Cairngorms; blue fin tuna gathering off the coast of Cornwall; red deer stags rutting in one of Ireland’s wildest corners; mayfly hatching on a river in Wiltshire; foxes hunting rabbits at night; and even a bee that rides a broomstick in Dorset.

Aerial photography will reveal the beauty of the British and Irish countryside, as it has never been seen before. Motion controlled time-lapse photography will bring to life the story of the passing seasons; the latest low light cameras will uncover the secret nocturnal lives of many of our favourite animals; and macro photography will reveal the miniature worlds of rock pools, ponds and grasslands. The series will be shot at 4K resolution allowing for an ultra-high definition television delivery.

Alastair Fothergill, Executive Producer, says: “I have always wanted to make a landmark series that really does justice to our own extraordinary wildlife. I am sure people will be amazed at what is happening right on their own doorstep”.

Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History, says: “The multi-award winning team at Silverback are creating an eye-opening celebration of British and Irish wildlife that has to be seen to be believed. You’ll think a meadow in Somerset is as beautiful as the Serengeti, and the North Atlantic as wild and dramatic as the Antarctic Ocean.’’

Dr Philip Wheeler, Senior Lecturer in Ecology at The Open University, says: “We are so used to seeing exotic places and species on wildlife documentaries that it is brilliant to see the wildlife of the British Isles presented in this way. Wild Isles shows how nature closer to home has amazing stories to tell and it is a real privilege to be able to contribute academic expertise from the OU to the series. I hope the public interest this series generates will give wildlife in Britain and Ireland the boost it urgently needs.”

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of the RSPB, the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, says: “Wild Isles will be essential viewing at a time when we are facing into a nature and climate emergency. Showcasing the UK’s spectacular places and wonderful wildlife gives us a powerful platform to build the broadest and most diverse movement for nature there’s ever been.”

Tanya Steele, Chief Executive of WWF, says: “The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world – we need to change that. Our aim is that this stunning series featuring some of our best loved species will inspire people to take action to safeguard and restore nature for future generations.”

Wild Isles (working title), a 5×60’ series for BBC One and iPlayer, is made by Silverback Films, co-produced by The Open University, the RSPB and WWF. It was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History. The Executive Producer is Alastair Fothergill and the Series Producer is Hilary Jeffkins.

Banijay Rights handles distribution for the series.