Animals & Wildlife Magazine

5 of the Best: Documentary Serials

By Frontiergap @FrontierGap

We’re having oursleves something of a documentary theme this week and to start us off we’ve compiled some of the best wildlife series that we think you should see.

We managed to get the Attenborough quota down to just one, but knowing how much everyone loves his iconic tones we’ll put him in first.


This fantastic ten-part BBC documentary explores animal behaviour to its extreme. Whether it is unique physical adaptations or advantageous responses to severe external conditions, David Attenborough accompanies us to a world where creatures are fighting for survival.

Both creatures great and small are considered, from the planet’s most gigantic mammals such as the humpback whale, to the worlds’ tiniest insects with the Argentinean grass-cutter ants.

“Challenges to life” is the first programme of the series and introduces us to some of the amazing strategies that animals and plants have evolved in order to stay alive. Containing a host of the gorgeous imagery that Attenborough films have become famous for, this series will definitely leave you in awe of nature’s greatest invention, life.

Inside Nature’s Giants

Imagine a science lab outside where instead of slicing frogs as we all did in secondary school you are gazing at the analysis of some of the world’s largest animals. This BAFTA award winning documentary aims to discover the inner-workings of nature’s giants. Using dissection Mark Evans, Professor Richard Dawkins and Dr Joy Reidenberg commentate and display the evolution of these beasts and show why they are so unique.

This is documentary is not for the faint hearted, but for those who share a keen interest in animals and more particularly how different parts of their anatomy function. There are some amazing facts with regards to the physical attributes of these gigantic creatures, one includes the suggestion that there are fragments of hyoid bone in the fin whales’ body indicating that its ancestors did have hind legs and therefore were from land contrary to previous belief.

Perhaps one of the most iconic images of the series sees one expert standing inside the vast mouth of the whale.

Last Chance To See

From radio, to book, to TV Last chance to see gives you the exclusive opportunity to observe some of the world’s rare living organisms. Following from its publications this documentary attempts to observe what has occurred in the past 20 years since its first release in book form.

The series follows national treasure Stephen Fry exploring animals with the potential of becoming extinct including the Komodo dragon and the “mermaid-like” manatee. The documentary not only allows us to get a last glimpse of rare creatures but also details reasons why the species is facing extinction, along with interesting facts regarding its physical features.

The best footage is perhaps the image of the baby turtles swimming towards the sea, something our volunteers in Costa Rica may be able to witness if they are lucky.

The Undersea World of Jaques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau was the first to provide the world with an extraordinary view of life in the sea. Whilst some may find the documentary lacking in some of the video editing technologies we possess today, it is refreshing to know that marine life is still as astounding without them. With the number of tributes made in his honour it is not surprising that these incredible footages are still appreciated today.

With his innovative scuba diving creations and his specialised Calypso boat, we can see some of the first footage captures of the ocean and its flourishing sea life. Cousteau’s enthusiasm translates through the documentary making the audience enjoy these beautiful screen shots just that little bit more.


Bearing the name of the national park it is filmed in this series documents a year of life in the park located in the state of Wyoming, USA.  From winter through to summer we observe how wildlife adapts to the extremes of life in the park.

With the opportunity to observe severe weather climates such as the plunging winter temperatures dropping as low as minus 40 degrees, watching the wildlife react and adapt to the adverse conditions makes for a tantalising watch.

British actor Peter Firth provides a thoroughly enthralling commentary, drawing you into the narrative of each animal profiled and their incredible stories of survival.

By Nancy Bukasa

Stay tuned for more features this week, including a look at the history of documentaries as told by our very own Attenborough jnr. Alex.

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