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Life Story

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With Life Story, David Attenborough takes us on the greatest of all adventures – the journey through life. Find out more, and watch clips from the series.

By: The OpenLearn team (The Open University,)

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An elephant family surrounds a youngster at a ‘salt lick’ in Kenya. The youngster has the best start in life, growing up with the protection of its family and learning from decades of acquired knowledge passed down through generations. Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC/Anup Shah An elephant family surrounds a youngster at a salt lick in Kenya

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Sir David Attenborough takes us on the journey through life, a story that unites each of us with every animal on the planet, because we all set out on this journey from the moment we are born.

For animals there is just one goal in life – to continue their bloodline in the form of offspring. They are an animal’s legacy for the future. The story of their journey is about hope, facing danger, actions of breath-taking boldness, extraordinary behaviours and, ultimately, success against the odds.

This series follows that journey through its six crucial stages:

Life Story brings a new level of story-telling to the landmark genre, creating an experience 
that is both intimate and intense. We follow the struggles and triumphs of individual animals, drawing the viewer into their worlds to sense the danger, the challenges and the decisions they must face.

Episode guide - complete with clips to watch now




Animals must try to gain a position of power in their worlds. The most powerful have best access to food and water, and they are also the most attractive to the opposite sex.

An orphaned, friendless, young chimp leaves his playful youth behind as he attempts to climb the social ladder. His troop is ruled by big, aggressive males. His first attempt to join them ends in a beating, but making his first friend changes his life. Together, they hunt for small mammals using spears, and share the spoils. It's an act that changes them from friends to allies.

In meerkat society knowledge is power, and knowing how to deal with a venomous snake is essential for any youngster who wants to be a player in its world.

Few young male kangaroos will ever get to occupy the top spot in their world. The only way is to fight and beat the 8-foot ruling male in a brutal boxing match.

Episodes in this series

Episode Description
First steps Each generation's greatest challenge - to ensure the next generation thrives. Read more
Growing up From the cradle to the grave can be a short journey - it's a challenge out there. Read more
Home A shelter and a refuge. But even some of the creatures of the wild can face a housing crisis. Read more
Power Strength can take many forms - but without it, you're sunk Read more
Courtship Without Tinder to rely on, how do animals find the right mate? Read more
Parenthood Some parents are more closely involved than others. Read more
The full circle So it's come to this: A Life Story clips show. Read more