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Planet Earth 2: All you need to know about the BBC’s first 4K TV show

Planet Earth 2 on the BBC in 4K UHD: Trailers, news, rumours, and release date for the sequel to the 2006 hit nature show starring Sir David Attenborough.

Ten years after the mind-blowing original Planet Earth aired, the BBC have made a sequel – Planet Earth II. The new show is dedicated to revealing the world in an entirely new way, so expect mind-boggling camera work, as well as animals you didn’t even know existed.

It’s a big deal for the BBC, especially considering that Planet Earth has become one of the channel’s most successful TV shows ever. This time around, it should be bigger and better than ever before, if the trailer is anything to go by. Check out the clip below.

Sunday evening’s installment of Planet Earth II is being called the greatest piece of television ever made, and we’re inclined to agree. Especially after seeing the Snake/Iguana showdown that’s still giving us nightmares.

What’s more, the BBC is releasing an app to celebrate its stack of headline documentaries as well as Sir David Attenborough’s career. Basically, the app is an encyclopedia of animals, pulled from more than five decades of documentaries.

It encourages users to explore the natural kingdom, searching animals by breed, habitat, location and much more. It’s pretty neat, and is set to be released on November 17 for free – this is the BBC after all.

The fun continues on Sunday. The next episode is taking us to the mountains, where we’re anticipating breathtaking drone footage of the Himalayas and some Snow Leopard action – be sure to tune in. In the meantime though, you can enjoy this cool 360° video of the Galapagos Islands:

So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming nature doc – but make sure to keep checking back, as we’ll be updating this page with all the latest news and trailers ahead of the programme’s release.

Planet Earth II – What is it?

Planet Earth 2

Put simply, it’s the sequel to the hugely popular 2006 nature documentary Planet Earth. First commissioned in 2013 under the moniker “One Planet”, the show debuts in November 2016.

The big news, though, is that it’s being shot in 4K, making it the BBC’s first ever show to be shot in the Ultra High Definition format. Planet Earth originally put HD on the map, and there’s every chance Planet Earth II will do the same for 4K.

However, the show won’t actually air in 4K for two reasons. Firstly, the BBC currently has no dedicated 4K TV channel. Secondly, there currently probably isn’t enough people with 4K TVs to give the show the justice it deserves.

 Rather, fans should view the 4K filming as future-proofing more than anything. It’s good for the BBC to have 4K footage in stock and the series will be ready for release later. In fact, the UHD version is most likely being saved for iPlayer or even a 4K Blu-ray release. 

Whatever the case, 4K will take those eye-popping visuals to the next level. As ever, though, note that you’ll need a 4K TV to make the most out of it.

Related: Best 4K TVs 2016

Planet Earth II – Release date

Planet Earth 2

The show hit UK television sets on Sunday, November 6. It’ll be on at 8pm on BBC One every Sunday, so make sure you’re settled in front of the TV by then. 

Like we said, only the HD version will air in November, so keep your eyes peeled for the 4K version’s release date. We suspect it’ll be when the BBC announces its dedicated 4K channel. Either way, we’ll be sure to keep you updated.

If you’re a licence payer you’ll also be able to watch it live online at BBC iPlayer. Simply use an internet-connected laptop or tablet to watch the show, or download the iPlayer app, available for Android and iOS. As always, if you miss it the first time you’ll be able to catch up using the BBC iPlayer service, too.

In the meantime, Netflix has the original Planet Earth ready to be streamed if you want to catch up.

Related: What is UHD Blu-ray?

Planet Earth II – What’s the format?

Planet Earth 2

The series will have six parts, with each episode being an hour long. Sure, that might not seem like many, but considering the time and effort that goes into capturing the show’s footage, it’s more than a little impressive. Since being announced in 2013, the show has involved 117 different filming trips to more than 40 countries around the world.

It’s basically a tech-head’s dream, too. Thanks to new filming technology, including lightweight drones, the latest image stabilisation and remote cameras, the show includes footage that “could not have been filmed 10 years ago”.

Related: GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro

Planet Earth II – Will it feature Sir David Attenborough?

David Attenborough

The veteran nature documentary-maker David Attenborough will narrate the show. The 90-year-old biologist also narrated its 2006 predecessor, as well as a whole host of other BBC documentaries. It simply wouldn’t be Planet Earth without him.

In an interview, Attenborough told The Guardian that his favourite sequence involves snow leopards performing never-before-filmed behaviour high in the Himalayas. The BBC was only able to capture it due to innovative, unobtrusive remote cameras.

Unlike in the previous nature documentaries, David Attenborough wasn’t actually on location for the shoots. However, he still managed to be part of the introduction sequence filmed in a hot-air balloon high above the ground.

Related: 10 reasons to care about 4K UHD

Planet Earth II – What will happen?

Planet Earth 2

We don’t have a huge amount to go on at this time, but we do know that it’ll involve both animals and plants. The trailer shows a boatload of different wildlife, including a swimming sloth and a bear scratching its back, all of which is shot in a dizzyingly beautiful way.

A future episode, it’s been revealed, will focus on cities and how animals have come to interact with humans. In particular, the show will focus on Mumbai and the urbanised leopards living there.

Series producer Tom Hugh-Jones said that the crew thought it would be “really interesting to show how animals are adapting”. Viewers should expect to see a rather poignant episode, with Sir David Attenborough explaining how our actions are having tragic consequences.

Related: How to take a 4K tour of the International Space Station

Planet Earth II – What’s special about the soundtrack?

Plent Earth 2

BBC nature documentaries are always accompanied by an orchestral soundtrack. However, Planet Earth II takes this to the next level. This time, the show’s music has been composed by Hans Zimmer, the Oscar-winning composer behind Gladiator, Inception, and the Dark Knight trilogy.

On composing for the show, Zimmer said that he was treating it “entirely as if it were a drama, which of course it is.” Check out this cool 360-degree video of Hans Zimmer and the orchestra recording the soundtrack:

Planet Earth II – There’s also an app

In case the show wasn’t enough, the BBC is also producing a free app. The Story of Life spans David Attenborough’s career and features 1,000 five-minute clips, all searchable by habitat, species or behaviour.

We’ve had a hands on with the download, and it’s really pretty neat. You can navigate through more than 50 hours of footage, searching your favourite animals or habitats.

But it’s not just wildlife on the app. It’s also filled with more than 20 “easter eggs”, curated by the big man himself. In fact, the BBC told us that Sir Attenborough was hugely hands on in the creation of the app, which means you know you’re watching the good stuff.

Watch: Should you buy a 4K TV right now?

What’s your favourite BBC documentary? Let us know in the comments below.

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