Seven Worlds, One Planet

2019 / BBC Studios / Seven episodes

Seven Worlds, One Planet is a BBC docu-series that wonderfully brings the natural world of seven continents to viewers with beautiful cinematography and narration by the incomparable Sir David Attenborough. Each episode is devoted to one continent, and the series starts by explaining how the massive land mass of Pangea was ripped apart millions of years ago by incredible forces to eventually create the diverse continents we have today. 

It starts with the extraordinary (and often venomous) wildlife of Australia, explaining how its animals were isolated from the rest of the world after the continents broke apart, and how they now survive in the varied and often harsh landscapes, including a surprisingly snowy landscape of eastern Australia that is braved by the seemingly ill-suited but persistent wombat. 

In North America, the series explores how the continent offered rich resources to its first inhabitants and opportunities later to pioneers forging a new life on an unfamiliar landscape. It shows how climate change and reduced sea ice has forced one population of polar bears to adapt by hunting beluga whales from rocky outcrops in Hudson Bay. In South America, the wonders of the Andean cloud forests are shown, with creatures such as the Andean bear and Pinocchio lizard (named because of its very long and upturned snout), which was discovered only 50 years ago, then lost, and recently rediscovered. 

In Asia, animals endure within Earth’s hottest deserts and occupy its highest mountains. European animals adjust to life among dense populations of people. Whales, seals, penguins, and starfish thrive on and under the ice of Antarctica. In Africa, young chimpanzees learn to make tools, and herds of antelopes, wildebeest, and zebras throng the Serengeti.

The vast array of natural wonders on display in Seven Worlds, One Planet delights, but also confronts viewers with the challenges facing the natural world—and a sense of the urgency required to protect it.