Blue Planet was one of the BBC’s most loved nature documentaries.
The original Blue Planet, narrated by beloved broadcaster David Attenborough, was originally broadcast in 2001 and went on to become a massive sensation on DVD and BLU RAY. The original series took five years to make, shooting in over 200 locations and now, it’s set to come back.
Over the past four years, a crew equipped with the best technology available has been exploring the depths and breadths of our oceans, and the results are spellbinding. Some behind the scenes images have been published in the run up to the show’s launch this weekend (on BBC in the UK / IRE).
A series of interviews with the team behind the gargantuan task of capturing the footage has been published over at The Guardian, and contains some fascinating insights into the hard work that went into capturing these images and the associated footage.
This includes a nail-biting account of a submersible adventure with producer of The Deep and Our Blue Planet, Orla Doherty:
“I’ve spent more than 500 hours in submersibles 1,000 metres under the sea – the maximum depth technology can take us,” she tells Kate Abbott, before describing how they discovered a leak in their vessel, while at a depth of 450 meters below seal level. “It was 45 minutes back up to the surface. There were three of us down there – the pilot, cameraman and myself – and it was my call what to do.
All sorts of things go through your mind – there’s a giant crack and it’s just going to go. There isn’t a way out. There’s no happy ending. It took 20 minutes to figure out where the water was coming from, and how to stop it getting in. That was an exciting 20 minutes.
The pilot noticed one of the inlets on a pressure gauge wasn’t quite watertight. So it was a seep, not a crack or hole that could rupture, and it was just a case of sealing it off. The pilot asked if I wanted to go straight back to the surface now and I said “No, let’s stay down and get on with our day’s work!” Every single dive into the deep is a precious thing.”
Doherty describes the experience of filming at such depths as being akin to ‘all the sci-fi films you’ve ever watched rolled into one‘.
No account.however, has brought more publicity than that of series narrator Attenborough, who brought a stark warning to us all regarding the state, and fate, of our oceans. In an interview with The Telegraph, he described the series as both ‘a triumph and a tragedy‘, before detailing some of the heartbreaking things he witnessed.
“70 per cent of coral reefs have been affected worldwide to some degree, and a bleached coral reef is a very tragic sight,” he says, before addressing one of the biggest issues which has arisen in the past decade and a half since the first series was made. That of plastic waste. ‘Plastic is not a universal disaster rather the way we dispose of it,’ he says. ‘We should increase research to counterbalance the benefits we have acquired from inventing it.’
Attenborough has made similar pleas for people to address how they dispose of plastic, and what an epidemic this problem is. “I just wish we would. There are so many sequences that every single one of us have been involved in – even in the most peripheral way – where we have seen tragedies happen because of the plastic in the ocean.
“We’ve seen albatrosses come back with their belly full of food for their young and nothing in it. The albatross parent has been away for three weeks gathering stuff for her young and what comes out? What does she give her chick? You think it’s going to be squid, but it’s plastic. The chick is going to starve and die.
“There are more examples of that. But we could do things about plastic internationally tomorrow.”
His words come as a harsh reminder that plastic waste remains one of the most unaddressed issues which face the world today, with thousands of tonnes being dumped into the sea on a yearly basis. Microparticles of plastic are even found in drinking water across the world. Such is the intensity of the problem.
The soundtrack for Blue Planet II was composed by the dream team of Radiohead and Hans Zimmer, which will certainly be another reason to tune in, should another one be required. The series is set to be one of the most breathtaking, and important, of the year…possibly the decade. Don’t miss out.