Sir David Attenborough new series: Wild Isles BBC release date, how to watch - is it broadcaster’s last show?

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Sir David Attenborough, 96, fronts new BBC documentary Wild Isles, filmed across the UK

Filmed over the course of three years, five-part series Wild Isles aims to shine a light on the challenges affecting the British Isles and celebrate nature that exists on our doorsteps. Across the five episodes, the Wild Isles crew filmed in 145 locations and 96 species which took 1,631 days to film.

The ambitious nature series is hosted by national treasure Sir David Attenborough and produced by Alastair Fothergill, who has previously worked on Attenborough projects including Frozen Planet, Blue Planet, and Planet Earth, and Hilary Jeffkins who has worked on nature documentaries including Life in Cold Blood, and Springwatch.

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The series is Attenborough’s fourth TV project this year, following appearances on Frozen Planet II: Worlds of Wonder, Winterwatch, and documentary special Climate Crisis: Drought.

What is Wild Isles about?

Broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, 96, will appear on Old Harry Rocks in Dorset to introduce the first episode – titled Our Precious Isles – and will explain why Britain and Ireland are critical for the survival of species across the globe.

Sir David Attenborough presents Wild IslesSir David Attenborough presents Wild Isles
Sir David Attenborough presents Wild Isles | BBC/Silverback Films/Chris Howard

The episode will feature new behaviour from killer whales hunting seals, golden eagles scavenging in mountains, puffins chased by greedy gulls and sinister plants holding unsuspecting insects hostage.

It will also show the biggest colony of northern gannets in the world migrating to the east coast of Scotland, and barnacle geese travelling to the west coast attempting to avoid the white-tailed eagle.

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Series producer and bafta award-winning filmmaker Hilary Jeffkins said: “I hope that after watching this series our audience will be wowed by the wildlife and spectacular places in Britain and Ireland but also that they get a strong sense of how fragmented and fragile they are.”

Despite Britain and Ireland’s rich and varied habitats, Attenborough will highlight that it is among the most-depleted in the world and asks how we can restore our wild isles for future generations.

The remaining four hour-long episodes of Wild Isles will celebrate the isles’ four key habitats – woodlands, grasslands, freshwater and marine.

Orca whales in the ShetlandsOrca whales in the Shetlands
Orca whales in the Shetlands | BBC/Silverback Films/SCOTLAND: The Big Picture/

“I want the audience to come away with a sense of pride and hope for the future too,” Jeffkins added. “I think that people will be surprised by the wildlife on their own doorsteps and amazed by the behaviour.

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“It is quite shocking to think that we have pods of killer whales, top predators, hunting seals in our seas and a large blue butterfly that tricks ants into caring for its caterpillars, by using deceptive sounds and smells. The wildlife that we think we know well still has some extraordinary hidden stories.”

Is Wild Isles David Attenborough’s last TV show?

Wild Isles is the first show that Attenborough has filmed on location since Green Planet which began filming in 2019 and was shot across 27 countries. However, The Observer reported that it could be the last programme that Attenborough films on location.

The veteran documentary-maker reportedly has no plans to retire as he approaches his 97th birthday in May, and will appear on Our Planet II later this year, though he is not expected to be involved in international travel for work in the future.

Attenborough has been involved in hundreds of wildlife documentaries over a career which has spanned eight decades, and it is unlikely that Wild Isles will be his last TV project.

Is there a trailer for Wild Isles?

Yes there is, and you can watch it right here:

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When is Wild Isles on TV?

The first episode will land on Sunday 12 March on BBC One at 7pm - there are five episodes in the series and they will air at the same time weekly. Episodes will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer shortly after they are first broadcast.

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