Blue Planet II to return next year – with a live version

BBC1’s Blue Planet II is to return to TV next year by popular demand – with a live version of the award-winning series.

The four-part series will run across a week in March and see presenters Chris Packham, Steve Backshall and Liz Bonin give updates on the discoveries made by David Attenborough’s landmark natural history series in 2017.

The trio will broadcast from three locations, the east coast of America, the Bahamas and Australia’s Great Barrier reef, returning to some of the places – and animal characters – visited for Blue Planet II.

Bosses say the aim is to give a global picture of the health of the world’s marine life.

BBC content boss Charlotte Moore said: “Blue Planet Live will thrill the millions of viewers who discovered so much from last year’s ground breaking series that shocked the nation. BBC1 continues to lead that conversation as we travel live around the globe to witness first hand the magnificent marine life within our oceans and wake up to one of the biggest environmental crises of our times.”

In 2017, the multi-award winning Blue Planet II wowed over over 62% of the UK population (37.6m people) with never seen before footage of marine life.

The series highlighted the problem of plastic littering the oceans, sparking nationwide campaigns to help clean up beaches and prevent further damage.

Packham will be at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, meeting with scientists, experts and conservationists on the front line of new research. He will also assess the health of the world’s whales during their breeding period.

Backshall will be travelling 1,000 miles south, to a small island in the Bahamas known for its extraordinary shark gatherings. And at the Great Barrier Reef, Bonin will take a look at how the turtles and birds are faring as well as examining the challenges being faced by all marine life because of plastic pollution.

Moore announced the new series while delivering the RTS Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture in London last night.

Giving her vision of the BBC of the future, she championed British creativity in an increasingly algorithm data-led world.

She said that hit shows such as Bodyguard and Killing Eve were about backing ideas and talent from the start rather than relying on a marketing algorithm driven strategy.

“So much of what is driving the rapid change in our industry is about technology, not creativity,” she said.

And in a thinly-veiled attack on Facebook and Google, he said: “The television landscape is increasingly being defined by what will deliver the biggest profits for companies, not the best programmes for audiences. I worry that the insatiable greed for data-gathering is actually serving the wrong master – that entire businesses are focused on what they can take from audiences, instead of what they can give back. The BBC is different.

“Sure, audience data and algorithms are great and incredibly useful – we can learn so much from what’s working for audiences and what’s not. But I don’t believe any amount of data can tell you what to commission next.”

She also pointed to global giants Netflix and Amazon driving up prices at a time when the licence fee had been frozen and the amount the BBC has to spend on programming has fallen by a fifth – around £500million a year – since 2010.

She made five key promises to help secure the future of the BBC: nurturing new talent, looking after established talent, offering programmes for young audiences and diverse audiences and promising to work harder than ever for the country.

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