Bear Grylls and the producers of “Hostile Planet” are promising viewers a new type of wildlife show when the series bows on National Geographic on April 1 in the U.S. and around the world in the spring.
With the streamers getting into the natural history arena and existing big beasts such as the BBC, Discovery and Nat Geo fighting their corner, wildlife filmmaking at the highest end is increasingly ambitious.
The makers of “Hostile Planet” believe that their show fits the bill by eschewing the fluffier side of natural history for a more unflinching look at the world. It hails from vaunted cinematographer and director Guillermo Navarro, who won an Oscar for “Pan’s Labyrinth.” He told Variety that the way the planet is changing calls for a new type of wildlife filmmaking to show the challenges to, and resilience of, species at the extremes.
“The natural history genre needed to change the way to tell the story, not only in the content, but also in the form,” he said. “Instead of just observing, I believe the lens needs to allow the viewer to experience a full immersion.” That involves a new visual approach, he added, “to create awareness and compel people to act and be part of the solution.”
Each episode of “Hostile Planet” looks at animals surviving at the extremes of different environments, in mountains, oceans, grasslands, jungles, deserts, and polar regions. Grylls is the host and narrator of the six-part nature series and appears at the beginning and end of each installment.
“With ‘Hostile Planet,’ the network is rebooting a classic genre and taking it to an extraordinary new level of drama and emotion,” the survival expert and TV star told Variety. “The series reminds us all that animals live in a brutal, unforgiving world and want to see natural history programming reflecting that visceral reality of what it takes to survive.”
Navarro and Grylls will talk about “Hostile Planet” at National Geographic’s TCA session on Sunday. The series is produced by BAFTA-winning U.K.-based shingle Plimsoll Productions.
Take an exclusive first look at “Hostile Planet” below.