Abacus Media Rights has closed a flurry of sales for the six-part documentary series “Evolve,” which looks at how scientists are learning from evolutionary adaptations found in the natural world. Patrick Aryee, the series’ presenter, will give the keynote address this week at MipDoc, part of the MipTV television market in Cannes.
Deals for the show, produced by Beach House Pictures for Curiosity, in association with Blue Ant Media, have been secured with ABC in Australia, Viasat World for Nordic and Central and Eastern Europe, RAI in Italy, Studio Hamburg in Germany, UR in Sweden, NRK in Norway, and VRT in Belgium, with more deals in the pipeline at MipTV.
Production took place last year, over the course of around 12 months. Principal photography was around 15 weeks and saw multi-national crews travelling across four continents. Stories were filmed in Namibia, Jordan, the U.K. and in 10 states across the U.S.
Jonathan Ford, managing director at AMR, commented: “Patrick Aryee is an engaging presenter whose passion and knowledge is so evident in this high-octane series. He takes us on an adventure which highlights human ingenuity – with explorers, fighter pilots, scientists and inventors all revealing for the first time startling wild-inspired innovations.”
Donovan Chan, executive producer at Beach House Pictures, added: “Only a true team effort could have produced such an inspiring and entertaining show, in the thick of the pandemic no less.”
Aryee, who hosted BBC’s “30 Animals That Made Us Smarter,” spoke to Variety about “Evolve” ahead of MipTV.
The series built on Aryee’s interest in shows that explore the practical applications in everyday life of cutting-edge science and technology, as typified by the U.K. show “Tomorrow’s World,” which aired on the BBC for 38 years until 2003.
“Evolve” also addressed “something which I found quite frustrating working in the natural history space,” he says. “I thought that it would be great to merge the two worlds of science and biology because they tend to be kept separate [in the U.K. TV industry].”
The show chimed with Aryee’s long-standing interest in biomimicry, which is the way scientists try to copy adaptations in nature to solve problems in the human world. One example is Velcro, Aryee says, which was invented in the 1950s after Swiss engineer George de Mestral was intrigued by how the burdock burrs stuck to his dog’s fur so effectively.
“We’re taking things that we see in nature, instead of just walking through oblivious. We’ve got this 3.8 billion year old blueprint that’s all around us. We just need to take time to think, why is that happening? How is it happening? And is there something that we can take from that?”
Part of the attraction of the show is how the expert contributors relate to Aryee as an engaged and informed investigator. “The way that I approached the show is that I have knowledge as an expert. However, I’m also somebody who is not afraid not to know things. So I see my role as the curious friend for the audience.”
When he engages with the contributors, he says, “their eyes kind of light up, and they’re energized by my energy, and my thought process, because they’re like, ‘Oh, someone who’s not in my field, gets me.”
He adds: “It’s like an intellectual sparring and bouncing ideas so you can see them think ‘Okay, this person really does care about what I’m saying. They’re not just going to go through the standard questions. This person is really engaged, and seems to be having fun around my subject matter,’ which then brings them to life.”