Alastair Fothergill.qxp_Layout 1 25/04/2019 12:51 Page 2
Tiger: Kieran O’Donovan/Silverback Films, Fothergill: Sue Flood
AT ONE WITH NATURE: This page, Alastair Fothergill in Antarctica, and left, a male Siberian tiger – filmed by an Our Planet camera trap – patrols a mountain range in the Sikhote-Alin range in the Russian Far East
and they are also the people who really care about the environment,” he says. “We’ll be on Netflix for years to come, allowing us to continue the conversation.” Following the global climate strikes in March where children from more than 100 countries across the world walked out of their classrooms to protest against the lack of governmental action in preventing climate change, the discussion about preserving the Earth definitely isn’t wavering. In order to keep the conversation going, there is an enormous source of regularly updated online content available from the WWF following the series launch, so audiences can find out more about the habitats featured in the series, as well as what people can do in their everyday lives to make a positive difference to global warming. There is also a fully illustrated companion book to the series available, published by Bantam Press. Working together on a joint project, WWF, Netflix, PHORIA and Google have created an augmented reality (AR) globe installation called REWILD Our Planet, which will go on tour around the UK, Singapore and New York. The first installation opened at We The Curious in Bristol last month and is open to the public until 2 June. Visitors can explore the planet through AR, investigating the vast habitats of animals from across the world as if you were really there.
From a young age, Fothergill was fascinated by animals and the natural world. Born in London, he went to Harrow before reading zoology at Durham University where he entered a competition for students to make a natural history documentary. “We went to Botswana and made a really rather bad film. But it was a wonderful way of appreciating that film-making was a way for me to show my passion for the natural world to other people.” After graduating, he joined the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol in 1983, producing programmes such as The Really Wild Show. His first job with Sir David Attenborough was on the 1990 series The Trials of Life, and he has continued to collaborate with him on countless projects. Attenborough, therefore, was a natural fit to narrate Our Planet. “Most of the damage we have done to the planet has happened during David’s lifetime,” says Fothergill. “He’s 93 in May, and has a legacy. He’s now decided to be more outspoken about [climate change] than ever before. “He’s the voice that is really trusted. We are saying some stark facts [in Our Planet] – some would say controversial facts – but they’re not. By working with WWF, we are 100% certain that it’s scientifically accurate. But we are saying things that some people really don’t want to hear. But when it comes
from David with his authority, that’s what is absolutely critical to us.” After almost 30 years at the Natural History Unit, including a spell as the unit’s leader aged only 32, Fothergill and Keith Scholey set up wildlife production company Silverback Films in 2012. Recognised for his outstanding contribution to natural history programming, Fothergill was made a Fellow of the Royal Television Society in 2016, and was presented with an honorary doctorate from the University of Bristol in 2018. After dedicating much of his life to helping promote and preserve the natural world, Fothergill is hoping that Our Planet can encourage people to take accountability for their actions and make a real change to the environment. He says, “The word ‘Our’ implies ownership and responsibility. We only have one.” n
Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey will be speaking about Our Planet at The Bath Festival on 24 May, 8pm, at the Assembly Rooms. Tickets £10; thebathfestival.org.uk
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