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OU on the BBC: Life: About the series

Updated Wednesday, 7th October 2009

A new series from the BBC and The Open University explores just how astonishing the natural world can be.

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Sailfish predating shoal of fish [image: Hugh Miller] Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Hugh Miller

Our planet may be home to more than 30 million different species of animals and plants. And every single one is locked in its own lifelong fight for survival. The sole purpose of living, for every one of them, is to survive long enough to breed. This is often a monumental struggle against the odds.

Over ten episodes Life, narrated by David Attenborough, takes the viewer into key moments in the lives of individual animals and plants, when the success or failure of their existence hangs in the balance. There is tragedy, comedy and triumph.

Innovative timelapse, slow motion and miniature cameras and aerial photography reveal the extraordinary strategies they use in the struggle to overcome their challenges.

Four years in the making, Life offers drama and surprise on a big scale as well as in intimate detail. Cameras fly amongst vast swarms of bats and butterflies. Dozens of hungry polar bears are forced to feed side by side on a whale carcass.

The series captures many TV firsts:

  • Cheetahs are normally solitary but three brothers have learned to hunt as a pack to bring down much bigger prey.
  • Male humpback whales race and fight in a huge courtship battle.
  • Giant Humboldt squid emerge from the ocean depths at night to hunt in groups.
  • The legendary Komodo dragon brings down its buffalo prey using venom.

Life also films some of the strangest animals and plants, and some of oddest strategies, on the planet:

  • The star-nosed mole smells underwater by exhaling and inhaling a bubble of air ten times per second.
  • The stalk-eyed fly emerges looking normal, then pumps air into its head which pushes its eyes out on the end of long stalks.
  • The weedy sea dragon looks like a creature from a fairytale, gliding on invisible fins.
  • The Brunsvigia plant turns itself into a rolling football to spread its seeds.



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