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Gardening For Beginners

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Bennett White
Bennett White

Life In The Undergrowth (BBC - Complete Series) 13

To follow and understand the various species looked at throughout the series, the production team consulted with some of the foremost experts on invertebrate life. In certain instances, their help proved invaluable, particularly when coming across particularly dangerous species or societies. In other instances, the specialists helped to provide some of their most recent discoveries, enabling the makers to showcase in rich detail the complex processes through which invertebrates may interact with their environment, as well as the regular processes of all animals in the wild, such as their mating rituals and hunt for food. Many of the creatures' interactions were not only filmed for the first time, but were also recorded with such extraordinary magnification that scientists who studied them were able to answer specific questions that observance with the naked eye had hitherto rendered impossible.

Life in the Undergrowth (BBC - Complete Series) 13

The first true blockbuster wildlife television series, Life on Earth, was broadcast on the BBC in 1979. Across 13 episodes, David Attenborough sought to explain the origins of life on our planet and how that has left us with the species that exist today.

The five-part series focuses on a different force of nature each episode, exploring how each has played its part in shaping and supporting wildlife around the globe. Episodes 1-4 cover volcanoes, sunlight, weather and oceans, while the final episode explores a new force: humanity.

Do you like watching shows about nature and wildlife? If you do, you've probably seen documentaries by British naturalist Sir David Attenborough such as his famous Life on Earth series. By producing these documentaries, David has helped millions of people all over the world to appreciate the wonders of nature and to understand how damaging pollution, habitat destruction and climate change really are. To mark the release of a new Netflix film about David's extraordinary life, we've made him the subject of our latest reading on environmental activists. But before reading, why not learn the vocabulary in Wordchecker? Then watch the trailer and complete the gapfill exercise before reading on. And don't forget to check your understanding by doing the David Attenborough quiz.

David produced his first TV programme for the BBC in 1951. It was a short documentary on an order of prehistoric fish that's still part of today's natural world. His first series of wildlife documentaries was Zoo Quest in which he showed viewers some of the world's most amazing creatures in their natural habitats. The series ran from 1954 to 1963 and included a popular six-part series on New Guinea's spectacular birds of paradise.

In 1965, David became the controller of the BBC's second television network, BBC Two. He reinvented the network by ordering the production of a wide range of new programmes covering music, the arts, entertainment, comedy, travel, drama, sport and science, including his own field of natural history. He also ordered the production of two of the greatest documentary series ever made; Kenneth Clark's Civilisation and Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man. After briefly taking over as director of programmes for both BBC One and BBC Two, he resigned in 1970 and returned to making documentaries, his true passion.After producing a number of short documentaries, David began work on a major 13-episode series for the BBC called Life on Earth: A Natural History in which he tells the story of life's evolution over millions of years from single-celled organisms to today's incredibly-complex multi-celled organisms of which human beings are just one of countless living species. The camera crew used the latest technology and techniques to create some of the most amazing wildlife footage ever filmed, and this helped the series become a huge hit. It was viewed by over 500 million people all around the world, and became the first of nine major series he produced for the BBC now known as the Life collection.

The next in the Life collection came in 1984 when he produced a 12-episode series called The Living Planet in which we see how living organisms have adapted to a huge range of natural environments both on land and in the sea. David's next major series was 1990's 12-episode The Trials of Life in which he shows us the various stages of life in the wild. We see amazing courtship and mating rituals and how various species give birth and raise their young.

During this period he also produced The Blue Planet (2001), an 8-part series on life in the world's oceans, and Planet Earth (2006), an 11-part series that was the most expensive nature documentary series ever made by the BBC and also the first filmed in high definition (HD). Each episode focused on a different habitat, from deserts, mountains and forests to rivers, lakes and oceans. Then in 2011 he made Frozen Planet about life in the polar regions, and in 2016 he made Planet Earth II, a sequel to Planet Earth filmed in spectacular ultra-high-definition (4K).

For example, one program in Atlanta pays 275 participants who have an income of no more than 200% of the federal poverty line $500 once a month for about a year. Another in Los Angeles pays $1,000 a month for a year to about 3,200 residents who are either pregnant or with at least one dependent child who have income at or below the federal poverty line. (Here are 25 facts of life the federal poverty rate completely ignores.)

His career as the face and voice of natural history programmes has endured for more than 50 years. He is best known for writing and presenting the nine Life series, in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Unit, which collectively form a comprehensive survey of all life on the planet. He is also a former senior manager at the BBC, having served as controller of BBC Two and director of programming for BBC Television in the 1960s and 1970s.

After leaving the Navy, Attenborough took a position editing children's science textbooks for a publishing company. He soon became disillusioned with the work, however, and in 1950, he applied for a job as a radio talks producer with the BBC. Although he was rejected for this job, his CV later attracted the interest of Mary Adams, head of the Talks (factual broadcasting) department of the BBC's fledgling television service. Attenborough, like most Britons at that time, did not own a television, and he had seen only one programme in his life. However, he accepted Adams' offer of a three-month training course, and in 1952 he joined the BBC full-time. Initially discouraged from appearing on camera because Adams thought his teeth were too big, he became a producer for the Talks department, which handled all non-fiction broadcasts. His early projects included the quiz show Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? and Song Hunter, a series about folk music presented by Alan Lomax.

Beginning with Life on Earth in 1979, Attenborough set about creating a body of work which became a benchmark of quality in wildlife film-making and influenced a generation of documentary film-makers. The series also established many of the hallmarks of the BBC's natural history output. By treating his subject seriously and researching the latest discoveries, Attenborough and his production team gained the trust of the scientific community, who responded by allowing him to feature their subjects in his programmes. In Rwanda, for example, Attenborough and his crew were granted privileged access to film Dian Fossey's research group of mountain gorillas. Innovation was another factor in Life on Earth's success: new film-making techniques were devised to get the shots Attenborough wanted, with a focus on events and animals that were hitherto unfilmed. Computerised airline schedules, which had only recently been introduced, enabled the series to be elaborately devised so that Attenborough visited several locations around the globe in each episode, sometimes even changing continents mid-sentence. Although appearing as the on-screen presenter, he consciously restricted his pieces to camera to give his subjects top billing.

The success of Life on Earth prompted the BBC to consider a follow-up, and five years later, The Living Planet was screened. This time, Attenborough built his series around the theme of ecology, the adaptations of living things to their environment. It was another critical and commercial success, generating huge international sales for the BBC. In 1990, The Trials of Life completed the original Life trilogy, looking at animal behaviour through the different stages of life. The series drew strong reactions from the viewing public for its sequences of killer whales hunting sea lions on a Patagonian beach and chimpanzees hunting and violently killing a colobus monkey.

Attenborough narrated every episode of Wildlife on One, a BBC One wildlife series which ran for 253 episodes between 1977 and 2005. At its peak, it drew a weekly audience of eight to ten million, and the 1987 episode "Meerkats United" was voted the best wildlife documentary of all time by BBC viewers. He has also narrated over 50 episodes of Natural World, BBC Two's flagship wildlife series. (Its forerunner, The World About Us, was created by Attenborough in 1969, as a vehicle for colour television.) In 1997, he narrated the BBC Wildlife Specials, each focussing on a charismatic species, and screened to mark the Natural History Unit's 40th anniversary.

As a writer and narrator, he continued to collaborate with the BBC Natural History Unit in the new millennium. Alastair Fothergill, a senior producer with whom Attenborough had worked on The Trials of Life and Life in the Freezer, was making The Blue Planet (2001), the Unit's first comprehensive series on marine life. He decided not to use an on-screen presenter due to difficulties in speaking to camera through diving apparatus, but asked Attenborough to narrate the films. The same team reunited for Planet Earth (2006), the biggest nature documentary ever made for television, and the first BBC wildlife series to be shot in high definition. In 2009, Attenborough wrote and narrated Life, a ten-part series focussing on extraordinary animal behaviour, and narrated Nature's Great Events, which showed how seasonal changes trigger major natural spectacles.

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