Susanna Dinnage is putting her mark on Animal Planet, with a new look for the channel and a lineup of global shows. The refreshed Animal Planet will go out of the gate with a series featuring the family of the late Steve Irwin, the Australian conservationist who had deep links with the Discovery-owned wildlife and natural history channel.
Dinnage was upped from running Discovery in the U.K. and named Animal Planet’s first-ever global boss last November in a reorganization that saw Patrice Andrews exit. Based in London, Dinnage now runs the brand worldwide, including in the U.S., and has set about giving it a new look and feel that she said is about letting a family audience get close to wildlife.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to set the global blueprint for our brand,” Dinnage told Variety. “Converting this incredible brand that is distributed globally into an actual global brand is the task.”
A new logo, never publicly released before now, features a leaping blue elephant and will be used across all platforms. The channel has had taglines such as “surprisingly human” before, but these have gone. The 22 year-old channel’s new branding will hit the U.K. and U.S. on Oct. 28 and will be in place across a 205-country footprint by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
A lineup of globally released shows will be aimed at family audiences and will “help you think about environment issues and animal welfare without preaching,” Dinnage said. “This is about getting up close and understanding [animals].”
“Dodo Heroes” has already had a global rollout and was Animal Planet’s most-watched freshman series this year. Next up is “Crikey! It’s the Irwins,” which will follow the titular family of wildlife enthusiasts as they continue the legacy of Steve Irwin, who was synonymous with Animal Planet.
“Steve Irwin was a key figure in the Animal Planet family and story. To have the Irwin family back with the channel and the brand is incredibly important,” Dinnage said. “Steve believed, as we do, that if you bring people closer to animals, they will understand them more, fall in love with them, change their behavior and see the world in a different way.”
Other new shows in the global refresh include Indigo Films-produced “Amanda to the Rescue,” which follows Amanda Giese as she takes in dogs that others have given up on, and “Big Cat Tales,” a five-part series that marks the return of Jonathan and Angela Scott and Jackson Ole Looseyia to Animal Planet after “Big Cat Diary.” The 4K series will follow families of big cats up close as they live and breed in the wild.
Take a first look at the new “Irwins” series below.