Promotional material for One Planet: Seven Worlds （Photo/Courtesy of BBC Studios）
The latest natural history documentary from BBC Earth, One Planet: Seven Worlds, will screen in China and the UK this autumn, BBC Studios announced at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday.
According to Julia Nocciolino, BBC Studios' SVP and commercial director for China, the upcoming new documentary will air on the BBC in the UK as well as on China's streaming platform Tencent Video.
"We find that our content has been of great interest to Chinese consumers. In responding to that demand, we've been working closely with some of our partners, for instance Tencent. We've created a strategic partnership through BBC Earth Tribe," Nocciolino said, noting the move would kick off a "golden age" for natural history content.
Featuring the music of Oscar winner Hans Zimmer and legendary narrator David Attenborough, the One Planet series explores how the characteristics of each continent on Earth impacted the animals that live there.
"This is the first time that we have taken a continental view of life on Earth, very different from the past's sorting of rainforest, deserts or mountains," said Chadden Hunter, the producer of the BBC's Natural History Unit. A 15-year veteran of wildlife documentaries, Hunter spent the past three years bringing One Planet to the screen.
Millions of years ago, some incredible geological forces the Earth's crust into seven continents. As they drifted in isolation, each one developed its own climate, its own geology and, most importantly, its own unique set of animals.
"We are really talking about the big idea that continental drift has driven the diversity of life on Earth," he added.
As more and more young audiences become interested in natural history content, producers like Hunter have noticed that these viewers are "engaged with the content in great numbers and talk on social media."
"Unlocking younger audiences... it has been a bit like the Holy Grail for us in television," he said, pointing out that he feels extremely fortunate to have "the best job in the world."
"Younger audiences now are interacting with wildlife filming like never before. This partly might be because they want a break from global news. It is likely natural history gives them positive television. Feeling like global citizens really connects them."
When asked about working with the 93-year-old Attenborough, Hunter said that "he still has an unbelievably curious mind. When you talk with him about a new story, his face just lights up like he is a little boy."
BBC Earth also announced a new co-production with Tencent Penguin Pictures, which features scenes captured from space and content filmed by ground teams. The trailer features two unique Chinese elements: a monkey native to the country's mountainous regions and 18,000 Shaolin martial arts followers practicing together.
Nocciolino said that content featuring Chinese elements have been well-received in different markets, such as viewers in Singapore being "fascinated" by BBC documentary Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration on Earth.
Local partnerships have played an important roll for BBC Studios. For instance, in 2018 it teamed up with Tencent to launch the BBC Earth Tribe, a brand new BBC Earth fan community where people passionate about natural history could gather together.
According to Nocciolino, the community allows Chinese fans to connect with the international BBC Earth community, meet other people in China and have Q&As with award-winning producers, and more.