Source: The Guardian, UK
Epigraph: He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Al Quran 59:25)
Technology will give us David Attenborough playing with an extinct ape as one of many natural history highlights on TV in 2014
An unusual line-up of stars will make their names on television next year. They include the gigantopithecus, a huge extinct ape – resurrected through the wonders of CGI – which will frolic in 3D with David Attenborough in Sky’s Natural History Museum Alive.
The south-east Asian tree shrew and the dung beetle will bear testimony to the hardships that the world’s tiniest animals endure, in BBC1’s Hidden Kingdoms, while Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, also on BBC1, will reveal the intimate lives of wild cetaceans through the use of cameras fitted to robot fish.
It promises to be a year of delights for fans of natural history programmes. Indeed, TV schedules indicate that 2014 will be unsurpassed for wildlife documentaries. In shoals, herds and swarms, the planet’s birds, fish and animals will fill our screens to fulfil the demands of viewers from across the globe who want their screens filled with visions of the natural world, programmes provided not only by the BBC and Sky but by channels such as Discover and National Geographic.
The reason for this mounting popularity is not hard to fathom, Attenborough told the Observer: “These programmes are always beautiful. They contain so much that is unexpected. They are not trying to sell you anything and the makers do not want your vote.”
Not a bad formula. But there are other reasons to explain the soaring popularity of the wildlife documentary. For a start, there is the technology involved in watching and making these programmes. This continues to improve at a striking rate – from colour TV to giant 50in screens that can show HD images, and from miniaturised cameras and lenses to devices like the heligimbal camera which allows cameramen to take vibration-free images from the air and which was first used to stunning effect in the BBC’s Planet Earth series.