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ANGELA BASSETT highlights nature’s incredible females

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Queens

NEW Available: Tuesday 5 March

Genre: Documentar­y Season: 1 Episodes: 7

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Angela Bassett narrates as docuseries Queens follows some of nature’s most impressive matriarchs, from the lionesses of the African plains to the queen ants in the rainforest­s of Central America.

The seven-parter explores how the females of the natural world are crucial to their species’ survival, and also focuses on hyenas, bonobos, elephants, wolves, orcas and brown bears.

The first episode sees a fearsome rivalry play out in northern Tanzania’s Ngorongoro crater between a sisterhood of lionesses, led by a pregnant Shani, and a pack of hyenas under the control of ageing matriarch Malkia.

Shani and her pride must also fight off a ferocious male lion who wants to mate and is threatenin­g to kill Shani’s cubs, while Malkia’s younger sister Ayisha will stop at nothing to usurp her and take over the 70-strong pack.

‘Africa’s savannah is home to the ultimate sisterhood­s,’ says Bassett. ‘When a new baby is born, its survival depends on the strength of its family.’

Out of all the animal queens featured in the series, Bassett says her favourites are the bonobos.

‘They are just so sweet and so nurturing,’ she reveals. ‘And I also was attracted by the story of the jewel bees because they are so beautiful and yet so deadly – and so ruthless to their own.’

The 65-year-old Hollywood star says she was drawn to the series, which took four years to make, by the fact that the entire production team was made up of women.

‘I said no initially because of all the many, many hours I would have to spend in a booth to record the voiceover,’ she admits. ‘But when they told me that the crew was made up of women and how the production team showed so much resilience and the spirit to film these animals around the world, that spoke to my heart. ‘I hope that by sharing these amazing stories, we can inspire people to appreciate the incredible diversity and complexity of the natural world around us.’

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