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Blue Planet and Planet Earth get follow-ups as BBC unveils TV wildlife schedule

Story by Jack Foley

The BBC has HAS announced more than 50 hours of natural history programming, including follow-ups to two of its most popular series: Blue Planet and Planet Earth.

The new shows will be broadcast across BBC One, Two and Four over the next few years and many will include new filming techniques to bring viewers even closer to the action.

Among the most keenly-anticipated is sure to be Oceans, which will continue where the award-winning Blue Planet left off in 2001 by looking at some of the marine species that have been discovered over the past decade.

These include the bizarre-looking blanket octopus, the “alarmingly hairy” yeti crab and the velvet belly lanternshark which uses a light-sabre style glowing spine to defeat its enemies.

Planet Earth‘s follow-up, meanwhile, is called One Planet and the six-part series will provide “the ultimate tour of an iconic ecosystem”, examining how animals and plants evolve in response to areas as diverse as mountains, deserts, wild islands and man-made cities.

A new programme, The Hunt, will explore the competition between predators and their prey and will include footage of polar bears hunting bearded seals for the very first time.

While there will also be special dedicated series on dolphins, tigers and kangaroos.

The former species will be showcased in Dolphin: Spy In The Pod, which uses spycams disguised as sea creatures – dubbed Tunacam, Turtlecam and Squidcam – to get even closer to some of the most loved animals in the world.

Of the shows employing innovative filming techniques, Countdown To The Rains will involve 75 cameras along a stretch of Africa’s Luangwa River, while Sleepover At The Zoo will feature a team of experts staying up all night at Bristol Zoo.

Countdown To The Rains will air on BBC Two from Sunday, November 3, 2013, and will be presented by Kate Humble and Simon King.

Kim Shillinglaw, the BBC’s head of commissioning for natural history and science, commented: “By using new filming techniques, peerless research and great storytelling, the next few years are all about shows that will delight our UK and global audiences.

“From new discoveries in Oceans and never-before-filmed behaviour in The Hunt, to assembling 75 cameras in one place for Countdown To The Rains and the ground-breaking spirit of our Sleepover At The Zoo event, we’ve never had as much range, scale and innovation to offer.”

Other natural history series coming our way include a three-part series called Big Weather, which will see presenter Richard Hammond (of Top Gear fame) flying a light aircraft into a hailstorm and releasing robot drones into a hurricane.

And there will be in-depth looks at Alaska, Japan, Patagonia and New Zealand, as well as Talk To The Animals, featuring real life Dr Doolittle Lucy Cooke on a mission to understand how animals communicate.

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