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Planet Earth - Alastair Fothergill

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

BBC’s ground-breaking natural history series Planet Earth has received almost universal acclaim (I say ‘almost’ because I actually came across one negative review). Now, along with an accompanying DVD, comes the book and the question is – is it a worthy companion?

For the most part, the answer is yes.

Like the television series, Alastair Fothergill’s book is divided into 11 sections, each representing a particular environment – the great plains, rainforests and frozen poles, for example – and explores in depth, the creatures that inhabit them.

Accordingly, it’s jam-packed with information though, if like me, you enjoyed the series, don’t be surprised if the written words take on the quiet timbre of Sir David Attenborough’s voice. Which, of course, is no bad thing.

As for images, there are almost 400 of them. But this is where the book disappoints. And it isn’t because they aren’t good – they are. It’s more because they aren’t quite good enough, particularly if you take into account the extraordinary quality of the film footage.

Take, for instance, one particularly memorable sequence – great white sharks preying on seals – there isn’t a single image of this incredible behaviour. And it has been done with stunning results.

Yet there are some superb images – the emperor penguin standing alone in front of a giant ‘jade’ iceberg in Antarctica, and a flock of swifts against the foaming backdrop of Brazil’s mighty Dardanelos Falls are just two examples.

But Planet Earth also contains a stark message. That, “within the next few years, the world itself may never look the same again.” And when it’s Sir David Attenborough saying this, it’s time to start worrying.

For whatever your views on global warming (and there are those who believe it’s cyclical), there’s no denying that man’s irresponsible behaviour is endangering this unique and beautiful planet.

So, all things taken into consideration, if you enjoyed the television series, the book will indeed be a welcome companion; one you can dip into time and again, and whenever the fancy takes you…....