Planet Earth II team on how social media helped BBC’s breathtaking series take off

A pygmy three-toed sloth swimming in remarkable footage from Planet Earth II
A pygmy three-toed sloth swimming, in remarkable footage from the BBC’s Planet Earth II

The team behind BBC America’s incredible new documentary series Planet Earth II have revealed how social media played a huge part in the success of the show in the UK.

The breathtaking TV phenomenon will premiere simultaneously on BBC America, AMC and SundanceTV on February 18, it was revealed today — before being aired on all three networks on Saturday nights over the following five weeks.

It comes after the series screened to record numbers for a nature documentary when it aired in Britain last year.

Speaking at the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter press tour, executive producer Mike Gunton said: “This was the highest rated show except for The Great British Bakeoff in the UK…that’s the British for you!”

And he told how social media played a huge part in getting people to come together to celebrate the show, resulting in its record viewing figures.

He said: “[Social media] has been important to us…people have absolutely come together to watch this. The internet was ablaze about what they [the viewing audience] were going to see ahead of each airing.”

The initial buzz came after now-famous footage of a brave iguana fleeing snakes on a beach went viral, prompting a swathe of parodies that captured the public’s imagination.

Gunton was on a panel at the TCA event alongside legendary narrator Sir David Attenborough (via satellite), who lends his voice to the series, and producer Elizabeth White.

Sir David told how the most difficult animal to film for the series was the snow leopard, and discussed how new filming innovations like camera traps had helped the team create the episodes.

Asked if he had watched the parody videos of the snakes chasing the iguana, he joked: “No I have not! I don’t watch it much [the internet].”

Planet Earth II features jaw-dropping footage and stunning never-before-seen interplay in the animal kingdom, and in nature at large.

The numbers behind Planet Earth II are staggering: Over three years in the making and encompassing a total of 2,089 shooting days across 117 filming trips in 40 different countries, this was no casually produced nature show.

It includes several things which have never before been captured on film.

Planet Earth II premieres Saturday, February 18, 9/8c, on BBC America, AMC, and SundanceTV.

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