'The Green Planet': release date and everything we know about Sir David Attenborough’s new nature series

Sir David Attenborough profiles the world of plants in 'The Green Planet'.
Sir David Attenborough profiles the world of plants in 'The Green Planet'. (Image credit: BBC)

The Green Planet delves into the extraordinary lives of plants and the challenges they face in order to survive. The stunning five-part series, coming to BBC1 in January and hosted by veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, uses cutting-edge technology to capture incredible shots of plants across the world from tiny algae to enormous sequoia trees.

Here’s everything we know about BBC1's The Green Planet

'The Green Planet' release date

The Green Planet will begin on BBC1 on Sunday 9 Jan. at 7pm and will also be available on BBC iPlayer. The episodes will air weekly. Two other recent Attenborough shows, Attenborough's Wonder of Song, and Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard are also available. We will update here with its US and worldwide air dates.

What is 'The Green Planet' about?

Giant water lily in The Green Planet

The impressive giant water lily is featured in episode two of The Green Planet. (Image credit: BBC)

The series looks at a wide variety of plants to reveal how they compete for light and food and try to attract pollinators and repel predators in a host of environments including the South American tropics and the freezing Arctic.

“These extraordinary organisms are just like us. They live and die, they learn to reproduce. Plants even fight one another. It's pretty tough stuff,” reveals Attenborough. 

“Every breath we take and every mouthful we eat depends upon plants. It’s a parallel world, which exists alongside us, and which is the basis for our own lives, and to which we have paid scant attention. We don't engage with plants enough. Over half the population of the world is urbanised and only sees cultivated plants but that wild community is there. And we’d better jolly well care for it!” 

Rafflesia in The Green Planet

Episode one reveals how the rafflesia or corpse flower ensures its survival in the rainforest. (Image credit: BBC)

What themes does 'The Green Planet' cover?

Each episode looks at a different habitat and the difficulties that plants face to thrive there. The series begins with Tropicals Worlds and the flora of rainforests, and it is followed by Water Worlds, Seasonal Worlds, Desert Worlds and Human Worlds. 

While the production team have travelled to 27 countries to capture footage of plants, Attenborough himself has also visited a range of locations from Costa Rica to Mexico and California to get up close and personal with some extraordinary species.

“One of the profoundly moving experiences was seeing giant sequoias. There’s a cathedral-like feeling when you go amongst them. They’re immense,” says Attenborough, who had a more unsettling experience when he encountered the cholla cactus.

“The cholla is a physical danger. It has dense spines in rosettes that are like spicules of glass and they go into you and you have trouble getting them out!”

Sir David Attenborough in The Green Planet.

Sir David Attenborough is awestruck by giant sequoias in California in 'The Green Planet'. (Image credit: BBC)

What technology was used to shoot 'The Green Planet'?

The production team on The Green Planet uncovered more about plants’ remarkable behaviour by using groundbreaking technology, from microscopic imagery to a robotic camera dubbed ‘The Triffid’, to get closer to them than ever before.

“In [BBC1’s 1995 series] The Private Life of Plants we were stuck with all this very heavy, primitive equipment, but now we can take the cameras anywhere we like,” says Attenborough. “So you now have the ability to go into a real forest, you can see a plant growing with its neighbours, fighting its neighbours or moving with its neighbours, or dying. And that, in my view, brings the thing to life.”

Is there a trailer for 'The Green Planet'?

Yes, the glorious teaser for The Green Planet shows jaw-dropping shots of a range of colourful plants across the globe as they grow in deserts, icy landscapes, forests and water. "Welcome to a world where a life can last thousands of years,” says Attenborough. “Where there is ingenuity unlike anything we have ever seen, where beauty knows no bounds – the incredible world of plants.”

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.