IR David Attenborough thought that the producers of new wildlife series Dynasties were mad when he first heard their idea. The plan for each episode was to spend time on one animal at a fork in the road and with a life about to change fundamentally depending on which direction it took.
Picking the families for these in-depth stories – which crews spent hundreds of days in a single location filming – was a huge risk.
“You can’t tell whether anything’s going to happen and you’ve got to be there and available if something does and, at the end of it, nothing may have happened,” says 92-yearold Sir David, who was born in West London.
“What are you going to do then? It’s a huge financial investment.”
However, the decision paid off, as the much-loved narrator of the series adds gently: “Extraordinary, interesting things did happen in all five that they chose.”
First off, there’s a chimpanzee leader battling for his position and his life on the edge of the Sahara, while in the second episode thousands of emperor penguins in Antarctica gather to face the coldest and cruellest winter on Earth.
In the African savannah, we meet a powerful lioness, abandoned by her male protectors. Then, on the floodplains of Zimbabwe, the focus is on a feud between a mother and daughter painted wolf. Last but not least, we see a tigress attempting to raise her family in the jungles of India, under ever-growing pressure from her rivals and humanity.
Dynasties follows on from the success of award-winning series such as 2016’s Planet Earth II, which drew record-breaking viewing figures for a nature show, and Blue Planet II – the most-watched TV show of 2017. They further cemented the position of presenter Sir David as a national treasure.
Blue Planet II was particularly