The Near Year marked a fresh beginning for STARZPLAY with the introduction of a new add-on channel – discovery+ – Discovery Channel’s video-on-demand streaming service. Since discovery+ is the home of real-life entertainment, there’s a diverse library of real-life programming that can be found on the channel. But its hidden gem is undoubtedly the BBC category where you can unearth a wide range of nature documentaries from the BBC’s Natural History Unit.
Did you know? The filmmaking unit has worked for nearly seven decades to explore the natural world unknown to mankind.
Thanks to high-definition television, these mesmerizing pieces of 21st-century filmmaking have been made available to the audience. While some present a fearless portrayal of the survival of the fittest, the maverick Sir David Attenborough’s soothing voice will give you a sense of calm that will make even the tensest animal attacks fall short. Subscribe to the channel on STARZPLAY and escape into a new realm of reality from the comfort of your home!
Here are the 10 best BBC nature documentaries available to stream on discovery+ now on STARZPLAY:
- The Blue Planet: The BBC Natural History unit may have had a long history of filmmaking prior to the 21st century, it was only with The Blue Planet that they achieved the feat of actually exploring the natural world unbeknownst to man. David Attenborough’s soothing voice takes over in the background as The Blue Planet dives deeps into the unexplored blue ocean with creatures from dolphins to sardines to blue whales getting a turn in the spotlight. Five years in the making, the only major difference between this documentary and the others is the technological advancements: the eight-episode docuseries was filmed in standard definition, limiting the magnificence of what’s detailed.
- Planet Earth: Viewers began to value HDTV with the advent of Planet Earth – a remarkable 11-episode docuseries. The documentary reunited the team of The Blue Planet, including David Attenborough and producer Alastair Fothergill, though the project was shot on a larger scale. As it traverses the terrains of forests, jungles to the Arctic, Planet Earth is as much a travelogue as much as it is a documentation of how various species are surviving in a world ravaged by climate change. 15 years in the making, it stands out with its high-definition content offering a clear and detailed view of the world that we haven’t seen. While the original version was narrated by David Attenborough, the American version was narrated by actress Sigourney Weaver.
- Nature’s Great Events: Though most of the discovery+ nature documentaries offer a wide lens of nature as a whole and highlight specific categories too, Nature’s Great Events looks at the most dramatic wildlife spectacles that occur each year. Some may be vaguely familiar to non-nature buffs, such as the salmon run on North America’s West coast, or the migration of animals on the Serengeti. This documentary stands out due to BBC Natural History Unit’s novel approach towards filmmaking and documenting every aspect of nature without following the same old tried and tested formula.
- Life: Our planet is brimming with plant and animal species all interlocked into a struggle for survival. A follow-up to the Planet Earth series, BBC Natural History Unit dives into the familiar phrase of survival of the fittest while offering some of the most breath-taking high-definition visuals of animals and wildlife ever recorded. As always, David Attenborough’s calming voice guides the viewers through the lives of plants, to birds to insects amongst others with miniature cameras capturing incredible footage of the insects.
- Frozen Planet: Just as The Blue Planet delved into the world underwater, Frozen Planet takes you through a tour of the frozen lands of the Arctic and the Antarctic. They observe the climatic conditions and the environment to learn how wildlife survives in such harsh conditions. The seven-episode series showcases beautiful imagery of nature and ice but the impact of climate change is hard to ignore. Even though discovery+ hasn’t made the final episode available — fittingly titled “On Thin Ice,” it features Attenborough onscreen — the rest of the series grapples with the future of this frozen tundra region.
- Africa: Most of the BBC documentaries highlight broader aspects of Nature, Africa, as the name suggests has a more limited purview. Spanning six episodes, the series features the heart of the continent exploring its distinctive locations and how wildlife survive in places like the Congo and the Sahara Desert. The documentary gets up close in an episode that depicts the starvation death of an elephant calf. Though scenes like this are heartbreaking, the filmmakers know well to observe without causing any interference in the habitant’s daily lives.
- Life Story: Though Life documented the various struggles of animals to survive in their natural habitats, Life Story focuses more on the circle-of-life theme. The six-episode series follows animals from the time they’re born to when they become parents themselves. There’s still a lot of content similar to that of Life, where the predator stalks their prey, but the most beautiful moments are captured during their silence. Picture a pufferfish highlighted in one episode, as it makes crop circles in the sand as part of the courtship ritual — behaviour rarely seen. It would be difficult to find such breath-taking imagery anywhere else!
- The Hunt: The Hunt explores the relationship between a predator and its prey while of course, David Attenborough’s hypnotic voice fills the background. One of the most primitive scenes in any nature documentary is the portrayal of animals on the hunt or animals attempting to avoid being hunted. The Hunt is a seven-episode series that’s filled with scenes, focusing on how hunting plays out in environments as distinct as the Arctic, the jungle, and everywhere in between. As with series like Frozen Planet, conservation and climate change take centre stage, the final episode is dedicated to scientists trying to save an endangered predator.
- Planet Earth II: Yes you read that right, even documentaries can have sequels! Ten years after the stunning representation of Planet Earth, the BBC Natural History Unit and David Attenborough return with Planet Earth II. Just as Planet Earth’s marvellous high-definition depiction of the natural world, Planet Earth II was the first TV series produced by the BBC in 4K HD. Even if you don’t own an ultrahigh-definition television, you’ll spot the difference! The clarity of the images is unparalleled in this six-episode series. The climax episode focuses on the endangerment of wildlife owing to urban settlements, a new initiative adopted by Attenborough to focus on conservation in a high-tech world. Though the series is shortened than the prequel, nonetheless it offers a real-life cinematic experience that will leave you in awe!
- Blue Planet II: Another sequel in the mix, Blue Planet II offers a more advanced view on marine life since its prequel in 2001. The 2017 seven-episode series is 4K HD production, unlike its predecessor which was shot in SD. Blue Planet II is more effective in conveying the environmental damage caused to marine life due to encroachment and modern lifestyles. We are all aware of how water pollution and littering can have a catastrophic effect if not curtailed. This documentary sheds light on the scale of the damage caused in larger unsparing detail forcing us to rethink our decisions while serving as a constant reminder to recycle and converse.
discovery+ – The home of real-life entertainment now available on STARZPLAY comes packed with a fully-loaded library of real-life programming including a slew of original series. Having debuted in January 2021, these brand new, must-see series and specials are made exclusively for discovery+! Viewers can binge on the cooking tales of ace comedian Amy Schumer, learn to plan a wedding in the time of a pandemic, or explore the world of true crime!
Here’s a peek at some of the discovery+ original programs now available on STARZPLAY:
- Amy Schumer Learns to Cook: Uncensored: Featuring popular comedian and actress Amy Schumer and her husband Chris Fischer, the series takes an updated and uncensored look at the Emmy-nominated series. In a self-shot series Amy learns to cook from her experienced husband/ chef in their home amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The eight-episode series won accolades for its original and unfiltered content. The couple is quarantining at home in Martha’s Vineyard with their nanny, who looks after baby Gene and runs the camera during nap times. A show with Amy in tow – well get ready for a whole lot of chuckles, husband & actual roasting, and of course, food recipes that will make your mouth water!
- Bobby and Giada in Italy: Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis spend a month in Rome and Tuscany, soaking up history, revisiting favourite places, and savouring the dishes that make Italy a go-to destination for global cuisine. The pandemic may have crushed all our travel plans for the year, but long-time friends Bobby and Giada take us on a culinary journey like never before, filling us with a deeper wanderlust and leaving us with nostalgia. Giada is a Roman native, so she brings the local know-how, while Bobby brings the cultural appreciation. The visuals from each episode will make you equal parts happy and melancholic as you journey through the lands of Italy.
- The Impossible Row: In a first, six rowers – Fiann Paul, Colin O’Brady, Cameron Bellamy, Andrew Towne, Jamie Douglas-Hamilton, and John Petersen achieved the impossible feat of crossing the Drake Passage, in just under two weeks after pushing off from the southern tip of South America. The Passage is located between Cape Horn at the tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula. The six men rowed for 12 days, 1 hour, and 45 minutes, making it the first completely human-powered crossing of the passage as confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records. The Drake Passage is considered one of the roughest waterways in the world because of the layers of cold seawater from the south and warm seawater from the north colliding to form powerful currents, which when coupled with strong winds and storms can be treacherous for those attempting to navigate it.
- Say Yes to the Dress: In Sickness and In Health: Zoom weddings? Well, that became a reality in 2020 when social distancing stopped lovers from having their dream wedding take place before their eyes. Necessity is the mother of all inventions – former fashion director of Kleinfeld Bridal wanted to give back to the brides by saying yes virtually! Capitalizing on the popularity of Discovery Channel’s super franchise Say Yes to the Dress comes Say Yes to the Dress: In Sickness and In Health where the team of Randy Fenoli and Hayley Paige stop at nothing to help these women find a magical gown at Kleinfeld Bridal and still have their special day in this three-episode series.
- JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened?: On December 26, 1996, six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey’s body was discovered by her father in their basement. She was found bludgeoned, strangled, and hidden underneath a white blanket with a nylon cord around her neck. Her wrists had been bound above her head while her mouth was covered using duct tape. JonBenet was a beauty pageant star, having won numerous titles such as America’s Royale Miss, Little Miss Charlevoix and Little Miss Colorado amongst others. There were numerous suspects in this case though to date, the case has not been solved. This documentary from discovery+ explores the iconic JonBenet Ramsey case with a fresh perspective through the audio diaries of homicide detective Lou Smit who was forced into retirement.
- What killed Maradona?: An investigative documentary that pieces together the painful death of football legend Diego Armando Maradona. A life marred with alcohol and cocaine this legend met with his untimely death on the eve of November 2020 during the peak of the corona virus. The Argentinian great was a genius on the field but also suffered from alcoholism and drug addiction. A rag-to-riches story in a country crazed for football, on one hand is an inspiring journey from the streets of Buenos Aires slum to leading Argentina to World Cup victory, on the other hand is the story of an ill-advised boy who failed to handle sudden fame and rising injuries, became prey to a life of addiction and physical weakness at an early age. Delving into various aspects of Diego Maradona’s life, the documentary is an eye-opener and a must-watch!