‘Planet Earth II’: What We Know So Far

We’ve already discussed how this television season may be among the strongest in recent years, bringing all kinds of exciting new shows to viewers’ eye sockets. For several years, we’ve been experiencing a kind of golden age of quality programming on TV, as cable networks and streaming services continue to push the format into creative directions that tell stories from a vastly different perspective than what’s heading to movie theaters.

In particular, documentary series have managed to break into the mainstream far more than ever before. Series like Making a Murderer and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey have challenged the boundaries of what documentary television can accomplish. [Update, 11/8/16: Added new preview clip of baby iguana being chased by snakes, below.]


However, even with the growing number of critically acclaimed documentary series that have made their way into the world in recent years, few efforts can compare with the scope of the BBC Natural History Unit’s beloved nature production, Planet Earth. Over the course of 11 episodes, the show brilliantly documented many of the awesome forces of nature, with each installment covering a different habitat across the world. Planet Earth was the most expensive nature documentary series made by the BBC up to that point and also the first one to be shot in high definition. So the world was understandably excited with the recent announcement that Planet Earth II was in the works. Here’s everything that we know about the new show so far.

It marks the 10th anniversary of the acclaimed original

Planet Earth
Planet Earth | BBC

While the original Planet Earth might still be regarded as one of the best examples of nature documentary filmmaking, the show is actually already a full decade away from its 2006 debut. Though it’s unlikely that the sequel will hit the airwaves by year’s end, the announcement of a follow-up is an appropriate way to mark the milestone for the original show that started it all. At this rate, perhaps news of Planet Earth III will arrive by 2026.

David Attenborough will return to narrate the new show

David Attenborough
David Attenborough | Humble Bee Films

Acclaimed broadcaster and naturalist, David Attenborough may be 90-years-old at this point, but he’s still as integral to recent nature documentary programs as ever. Fans of Planet Earth will be relieved then to learn that Attenborough will return to narrate the sequel series. For decades, he has been the driving force behind the Life series of documentaries (which he wrote), and we couldn’t imagine Planet Earth without his voice guiding viewers through all the breathtaking imagery. Now we know that we won’t have to.

Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer will provide the music

Inception | Warner Bros.
Inception | Warner Bros.

Ask any savvy filmmaker, and they’ll likely all confess to the integral role that music plays in setting the mood and elevating the emotional impact of the images on-screen. With Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer on hand to provide the music, no wonder the original Planet Earth was so effective. Zimmer has worked on countless blockbusters — including The Dark Knight, The Lion King, and Inception — and remains one of the most versatile and gifted composers working in the entertainment business. We’re happy to report that he’s set to return for Planet Earth II. So be ready for another stirring viewing experience.

The six episode series will be shot in ultra high definition

Planet Earth II
Planet Earth II | BBC

While Planet Earth was comprised of 11 episodes, this follow-up series will only consist of six. Nevertheless, we imagine the scope of the filmmaking will be just as ambitious as ever, and the fact that Planet Earth II will be shot using the latest ultra high definition technology (aka 4K) helps the series stay on the cutting edge with its ground-breaking predecessor. There’s no word yet exactly what each of the six episodes will center on, but at least we know that the finished product will look outstanding. That’s a hell of a start.

The series will premiere next year

Considering that Planet Earth reportedly took five years to produce, we can only imagine the amount of work that is going into the long-awaited second round of episodes. While the official extended trailer (seen above) proclaims that Planet Earth II is “coming soon,” the official BBC America website recently revealed that the show is set to premiere on January 28, 2017. However, U.K. residents will get to see it much sooner, since it debuts in the U.K. on November 6. At least we won’t have to wait five years for it, right? Right?!

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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