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Week 51 2022 : Sat 17 Dec - Fri 23 Dec
- Sat 14 Jan 2023
A Year on Planet Earth
Full series drop on ITVX - 22 December 2022
Showcasing the many wonders of the world, A Year on Planet Earth, reveals the incredible ways in which almost all life is connected and how where we are on our journey around the sun affects the lives of individual animals.
The fresh concept documentary series will draw on the most spellbinding and dramatic stories from all corners of the globe.
Combining extreme weather, breath-taking landscapes, epic wildlife spectacles and lovable animal characters, this series reveals our planet in a completely new light, uncovering how animals react and adapt to shifting habitats and unexpected events.
Presented by acclaimed actor, author and comedian, Stephen Fry, this unique series is brand new for ITVX, uncovering never before seen footage of our favourite creatures.
From Marion Island, home to one of the largest and most remote king penguin colonies on Earth, to China, capturing the rare sight of the giant pandas in monsoon season, A Year on Planet Earth is truly a year-long adventure around our world.
Featuring a story arc across the seasons, viewers will be immersed in the extremes of winter, spring, summer and autumn.
Filmed in more than 60 locations, the series covers a wide range of the most charismatic animals, including African elephants, polar bears, blacktip sharks, chipmunks, grizzly bears, cheetahs, leatherback turtles, pandas and zebras, among many, many others.
All of their individual stories are told, as never before, as we spend A Year on Planet Earth.
Episode 1: Winter
Stephen Fry hosts a new landmark wildlife series exploring how our annual journey around the sun impacts nearly all life on Earth. As we orbit our star, it is on a tilted axis of around 23.5 degrees and this creates the seasons. For those in the northern hemisphere, Winter brings plummeting temperatures, darkening days and times of hunger. On Svalbard’s frozen sea-ice, a polar bear mother is preparing her cub for a life alone. Each week without food, she loses around a tenth of her body weight.
On the other side of the planet the far south leans towards the sun, bringing warmth and light.
It is the southern summer. Deep in the Southern ocean, King Penguins flock to Marion Island, a tiny spec of land between South Africa and Antarctica. It is breeding season at this time of year and it becomes home to a million penguins. In the tropics the intensity of the sun drives cloud formation, bringing the rains. For a baby African elephant, this is the season of play but tougher times lie ahead.
Episode Two: Spring
The Spring equinox brings equal day and night. Incredibly this celestial moment is detected by a leatherback turtle, compelling her to return to the beach where she hatched to lay her own eggs. Warmth and light prompt huge growth across the North, bringing courtship displays and baby booms. New life is a time of plenty for predators.
Further south, on the Equator, a cheetah mother in Kenya struggles in the wet season. In the far South, a King Penguin chick on Marion Island is singled out by a predatory giant petrel and flees for her life. The adult penguins rally to drive the monster away. A Tibetan fox provides for her cubs by hunting pika. But returns from her hunt with an injured foot leaving the future of her litter in jeopardy.
In Kenya, a cheetah mother targets an impala, providing a feast for her family. In Trinidad, the turtle hatchlings begin their instinctive march to the sea. Vultures, waiting for this moment, feast on them. But one lucky individual makes it to the sea.
Episode Three: Summer
Stephen Fry continues his journey through the year. For much of the Northern Hemisphere, Summer is the season of the Sun. By June, we are half-way through our annual journey - the northern pole is in 24-hours of sunlight, while the south is frozen in darkness. But things aren’t as simple as hot and cold, this is a season of feast, famine, fire and torrential rain.
In Canada’s Rocky Mountains, summers are short. Pika must harvest flowers to feed on before the snow returns, all whilst fending off a few pesky local thieves. For Marion Island’s king penguin chicks, life has frozen to a standstill. Their parents left months ago and the chicks are facing starvation.
In Northern Australia, it’s the dry season, and hooded parrots raise their chicks in termite mounds. But it is bushfire season, and approaching flames are threatening their survival. The same winds that fan the flames blow North over the Maldives, changing ocean currents and bringing with them plankton-rich waters.
Episode Four: Autumn
Stephen Fry is on the last leg of his journey. Autumn is the season of change. For many, change brings opportunity, but it also brings huge challenges. In Northern Canada, the cold is felt early, by September temperatures can plummet as low as -20C. But there is one stretch of river that still flows, and ‘ice bears’ are able to fish for the final salmon of the season.
Those that can’t survive the cold weather, need to get on the move. Monarch butterflies emerge, and set off on a mammoth migration to Mexico – 2500 miles south.
South of the Equator, it is the toughest time of the year in Southern Africa. The rains have been gone for many months, and watering holes have all-but dried up. An elephant calf is dangerously vulnerable to predators. Nearly a year old, it's time for a king penguin chick on Marion Island to answer the call of the ocean. She’s replaced her fluffy coat with tightly-packed waterproof feathers. It is time for her first ever swim, but troubled waters are ahead.
Episode Five: Full Circle
Experience the incredible strategies animals use to cope with their constantly changing worlds, as we journey through every season, in our annual orbit around the sun.
On Marion Island, a newly hatched penguin chick sheds its fluffy coat and swims past killer whales to begin its adult life. In winter, red squirrels rely on brilliant memory tricks to survive, and Stellar sea eagles turn to daylight robbery to make it through the coldest and harshest months.
During Spring, pika must avoid the jaws of the Tibetan fox, on the world’s highest plateau. Meanwhile, a snow frog is joining the Earth’s slowest race in the French Alps.
Summer brings a glut of new bamboo shoots for hungry pandas, whilst bushfires ravage Australia’s Northern territory threatening its animal inhabitants.
Finally in autumn, a male musk ox fights off a half tonne rival to retain his dominance in the herd and an elephant family, weakened by drought, suffer a fatal loss before the rains arrive and their fortune changes.
Episode Six: A Year on My Planet Earth
A Year on Planet Earth was filmed over three years across 60 locations.
A series of this scale this would be impossible without the collaboration of scientists, conservationists, and community members.
Marion Island, a remote and rugged island, is home to more than a million penguins, and a pioneering project providing evidence of an accelerating climate crisis.
In Florida, the migration of blacktip sharks is being studied with dramatic shifts in their migration being observed. In Trinidad, a former poacher is now protecting Leatherback turtle families from fishermen. In the Maldives, scientists are undertaking the world’s biggest identification project of manta rays as they gather to feed on plankton.
In Zimbabwe, it’s up to a small team of rangers to protect the animals from poachers. Despite the odds being stacked against them, they have had extraordinary success.
Uncovering new behaviour, using pioneering techniques and even putting their lives on the line - these are their stories.