Greece - The Wild Side
Part I: The View From The Gods
Part II: Surrounded By Blue
Greece is a land of unique contrasts, craggy mountains and lush forests, with wild animals that have disappeared from the rest of Europe, enjoying archaic relationships - and seemingly the special powers of Greek Gods!
Part I takes us to isolated places like the Vikos Gorge - Europe's Grand Canyon - where western rock nuthatches make perfect bottle-shaped nests out of the insects they catch! Beneath the sky-high Meteora monasteries two male Egyptian vultures fight over the last female; while down below the extraordinary Sheltopusek, a bizarre legless lizard, hunts exotic insects.
Part II Chameleons on land, cuttlefish in the water: the astonishing colour-changing heroes of the Greek Islands with their startling hunting, mating and reproduction strategies. Add the snakes that snatch migrating birds stopping for a drink and a rest, and the valley in Rhodes where butterflies coat the rocks and trees, and lizards hoover them up ...
Maria Theresa - Europe's Mother-in-Law
The Empress arranged her children's marriages to make peace with France, Spain, Parma and Naples. One of these children was Marie Antoinette, who married Louis XVI of France before they were both decapitated. Needless to say, these marriages were largely unsuccessful. Watch as Maria Theresia struggled to balance dynastic responsibility and motherly love.
Stars and Stripes
Why is a baby deer born with white spots -and why do they disappear as it grows? Why is a young wild boar striped? What makes the stripes fade with age? And why is a goshawk spotted when it's young, and striped when it's older? «Somatolysis» is the answer. This ancient Greek expression means «dissolution of the body»: by changing its shape and contour. For many animals it's the key to survival in the critical first days and weeks. It works like a magic cloak, that makes hatchlings and youngsters virtually invisible. A female deer leaves her fawn unattended for hours. It's not strong enough to follow her, but she needs to graze to produce milk to feed it. The fawn's only hope is to be invisible. Maybe bright white spots aren't such a bad idea in a meadow full of daisies...
Mysteries of the Stone Age
They seem to have come from another world: circles and buildings made of gigantic stones. The most famous are Stonehenge in Britain and Carnac in France. But these megaliths from the Stone Age - 5,000 years BCE - are found all round the world, as recent discoveries show. There appears to be a network of sites from the north of Scotland to the Mediterranean (Malta alone has around 30 temples) to the Far East - with gigantic graves in Korea. It's still not clear how ancient civilizations managed to create these fantastic stone structures. How did they lift the huge blocks into place? And what can we learn about those societies? What were the turning points in their history? Was there a secret connection between the cultures that built the megalith circles? New studies and the latest international research reveal fresh clues to the biggest mysteries of the Stone Age.
The Prince and the Chief: Travels in the Interiors of North America
He has been a hero for generations of readers: Winnetou, the noble Apache, created by author Karl May in the late 19th Century. Millions of readers and viewers have been riveted by his adventures, and his friendship with the frontiersman Old Shatterhand. Behind the fiction lies a true story. In April 1833, scientist Maximilian von Wied, a German prince, and Swiss painter Karl Bodmer travelled up the Missouri by steamboat. They planned to observe and record the indigenous peoples and the epic landscape of the American West. During the trip, Von Wied befriended Mato Tope ('Four Bears') the deputy chief of the Mandan Tribe. Thanks to this relationship it became possible for Von Wied and Karl Bodmer to see the world of the indigenous peoples through different eyes. This documentary as well as the writings of Karl May are based on both accounts and memories of Prince Maximilian and Karl Bodmer.
Through a Raven's Eye
The Common Raven is the largest, cleverest and bravest European corvid - brave enough to makeits home in the harsh landscape of the 'TotesGebirge'- the 'Dead Mountains'. This barren limestone plateau at 2,500 meters soaks up rainwater,leaving the peaks bone-dry. Further down, the precipitation creates a paradise of turquoise lakes, pristine springs, moss-covered forests and mysterious moors. The temporary karst springs bring further specialist behaviour: landlocked Danube bleak make short and spectacular migrations to their spawning grounds, and wallcreepers scurry up anddown steep cliffs, looking for larvae; while chamois,ptarmigans and mountain hares eke out a living amongst the jagged rocks. Gliding on silent wings through this landscape of contrasts, the raven takes us on a tour of his realm: this forbidding limestone massif may appear dead - but through the raven's eyes it's anything but!
Bears of the Karawank Mountains
For Slovenia's brown bears, the fall of the Iron Curtain freed them to explore. Moving west through gentle Mediterranean countryside they encountered two obstacles: the Karawank Mountains and the Julian Alps. This film tells what happens when inquisitive and intelligent bears cross the biggest natural barriers in search of a new life: fishing, hunting, raiding ants'nests, scooping up berries, even stealing honey as they go. The bears remember exactly where they have been in previous years; they revisit or avoid old haunts, moving ever closer to human civilization. Through the eyes of the bears we visit the stark mountain landscapes and their flora and fauna, including wolves and lynx. Golden eagles, griffon vultures, bats and butterflies, ibex and chamois, red deer and marmots are some of the animals they encounter on the way.
Kestrels at Close Quarters
The drama of life is unpredictable - that's true for wild animals just as for humans. Kestrels have learned to live close to man; they even raise their hatchlings in our cities. This is the story of two kestrel couples bringing up their chicks in the same neighbourhood in the center of Vienna. While destiny rewards one breeding pair with success, the other kestrels face a more brutal fate: they have chosen an unsuitable location to brood and raise their hatchlings. With unflinching observation this film celebrates the family lives of Kestrels, their needs and efforts when breeding, and the life that follows a successful brood. Once the fledglings have learned to fly, parents and offspring face a vital decision: stay in Europe over the winter or head off to southern climes with abundant prey? Whatever they decide, another unpredictable drama of life beckons.
Cuba's Wild Revolution
Cuba has some of the richest wildlife in the Caribbean: 3,700 km of pristine coastline, mountain ranges still draped in primeval forest, swamps teeming with moisture-loving creatures - and much of it thrives because of Cuba's revolution. Decades of socialist government, U.S. embargoes and minimal development have left the island virtually unchanged.
This film will feature Cuba's wildlife where it meets the island's colonial and revolutionary past, and present: from the clouds of vultures riding the updrafts around Havana's legendary 'Habana Libre' hotel to the Cuban boa constrictors making their homes in the deserted mansions of long-gone sugar barons, to the coral-smothered cannon of wrecked Spanish galleons. Neighbors from Haiti to Jamaica may have flushed their natural wealth into the sea; Cuba sits like a green jewel in azure Caribbean waters, pulsing with life.
Europe's Wild West - Portugal
Portugal was once a great power that linked the Old and New Worlds -and this history is reflected in the country's landscapes and wildlife. Wild horses small enough to fi t on the cramped ocean-going ships were tamed in the northern mountains and exported to gold-greedy Conquistadores. Now Portugal's sea-horses are threatened by modern global trade: illegal fishing to supply far-eastern exotic medicines. The 20th Century dictator Antonio Salazar imported quick-growing eucalyptus trees from Australia to revive the timber industry. But the highly inflammable eucalyptus now cause devastating forest fi res, which Portugal's remaining cork oak forests -home to hundreds of white storks -can easily survive. Protected Mediterranean monk seals are slowly rebuilding their decimated numbers in the Atlantic off the coast of Madeira, while on the neighbouring Desertas Islands, the world's largest wolf spiders cannibalise each other. Massive flocks of vultures migrate to a warmer continent, overflying coastal cliff s battered by the world's biggest waves. Air, Earth, Fire and Water - in this country the ancient elements still rule.
Wild Way of the Vikings
The world of the Vikings was a world of ice and flames. A world of epic exploration, adventure and discovery. Connected to Nature in a profound way, the Vikings were the first to experience the fabulous wildlife of the Islands of Fire and Ice - Shetland, Iceland, Greenland and beyond.
This unique documentary combines never before filmed animal behaviour with a spell-binding historical narrative, drawn from the very sagas created by the Vikings 1,000 years ago. From killer whales hunting seals to arctic fox clans struggling to feed huge and hungry families. From the wily raven to the noble gyr falcon; walrus haul-outs in the sub-Arctic and vast herds of migrating reindeer, all filmed in 4K splendour. This is the Wild Way of the Vikings
Wild Austria - Created by Water
Part 1: White Water, Blue Water
Part 2: The Flow of Time
Austria's Alpine glaciers, ancient seas and mighty rivers have carved out giant mountains, caves and lakes - key to its wildlife today. Eagles, ibex, marmots and deer are iconic, but there are other, stranger creatures: Goosander ducks breed in hollows high in trees. Just a day old, long before they can fly, the newly-hatched ducklings must leap up to ten meters to join their mother in the brook below. Through glacier melt, via waterfalls,streams and lakes, water finds its way downstream, creating habitats for lynx, wolves and foxes, but also owls, bats, frogs, dragonflies and water birds. They all find their home in Austria's unforgettable landscapes, created by water's endless cycle and ever-changing forms.
Austria's world-famous bird sanctuary, Lake Neusiedl, has its secrets. Hiding in the reeds, the cuckoo conceals his intentions well, fooling some birds - but not all - into bringing up its demanding and murderous offspring. Austria - Created by Water melds overwhelming spectacle with minature high drama in a portrait of a country where water in all its forms brings beauty - and life.
Empire of the Vineyard
A well-tended vineyard nurtures the quality of a wine over generations. But its micro-world is a battleground, an animal empire fought over in hundreds of tiny dramas every day. The irresistible smell of fresh vine- leaves tempts deer out of the woods in spring. European and Asian ladybugs swarm out of their underground colony to help save the vines from aphids, but are themselves attacked by ants that 'milk' the aphids for nourishment. Fox-cubs and young rabbits play together, but within weeks the tables turn and the furry playmates become prey. An ant-lion larvae lies in wait in its sandy pit for insect prey, while buzzards scan the soil for mice and hamsters. In the South of France the cat-like genet, the top vineyard predator, dines on rabbits, lizards, snakes and even unwary blackbirds, before finishing with a dessert of ripe grapes.
The Woman who Knew Too Much: A Cold Case from the Cold War
Brilliant young Austrian economist Margarethe Ottillinger was arrested on 5th November 1948, crossing a bridge between the Soviet and American zones in post-war Vienna. It was a classic Cold War kidnapping. Ottilinger had been researching the Soviet exploitation of Austrian industry, but even after her release from a Russian prison seven years later, she never learned the official reason for her detention and torture. The rumour persisted that she was sacrificed by her boss and lover, the Austrian economics minister Peter Krauland. He had a Nazi past and there was evidence of a complicated web of corruption and political conspiracy. Using latest revelations from Russian and Austrian archives, this film turns a tragic personal story into an iconic account of Cold War deceit and skullduggery.
Luis Trenker - Hitler's Mountain Hero
Luis Trenker is a legend. Best known internationally for his mountain films with then actress Leni Riefenstahl ("The White Hell of Piz Pallü"), he had a controversial movie career under the Nazis and was championed by Italian Fascists, before being reborn after the War telling stories of his life on German television. This documentary shows the highs and lows of a long life, the delicate balance between Hitler and Mussolini, adaptation and resistance, box office success and cinematic art. Was he a Nazi collaborator or opposed to the Regime? Or simply an amoral survivor who never ceased moulding his own image?
A Walk on the Wild Side - The Vienna Prater
Vienna's Prater, an expanse of woodland at the heart of one of the world's great cities, was created by the Danube, and shaped by humans over the centuries. Today it is still a remarkable natural oasis. On warm summer days Viennese and tourists flock to the Prater in their thousands. The iconic Big Wheel offers spectacular views of Vienna's urban and wild sides, but few get to see the hidden dramas all around them - the beavers, badgers, roe deer and giant butterflies that take over as soon as the people have left. This film rediscovers the secret residents and surprising wildlife of Europe's oldest pleasure gardens. Specially developed remote cameras with infrared lighting reveal the everyday (or rather night-) life of a badger family, without disturbing these shy nocturnal burrowers.
Mexico's Animal Migrants
Mexico is one of earth's few mega-biodiverse regions. Aside from residents like jaguars, eagles, roadrunners and tarantulas, there are also migrants that come in their millions from all across North and South America. Some animal adventurers set out from Mexico, others return to it or travel through. Snow Geese, Gray Whales, Free-Tailed Bats, Monarch Butterfl ies, Whale Sharks, Rufous Hummingbirds and the River of Raptors: together their stories create a living map of all of Mexico, with its most iconic animals and most spectacular landscapes.
The Secret Life of Snakes
They are among the most hated und feared animals on the planet - only few people recognize their beauty. This documentary features some of Europe's most stunning species, like the European adder, the nose-horned viper, the dice snake, the ringed snake and the Aesculapian snake. After a winter safe in burrows, sometimes in bundles of hundreds, the spring's warmth brings them back to life. Adders at 2,000 metres in the Alps have extra survival skills: they are almost pitch-black to absorb every last ray from the sun, and their offspring are born alive - it would be too cold for eggs. Storks and herons, martens and polecats predate their lower altitude cousins. Most snakes avoid humans. The Aesculapian snake likes to shimmy up trees to catch birds, but it's happiest where humans store grain or dump waste - that attracts lots of mice. And Europe has its own constrictor! So watch out next time you're walking in the park ...
Giants of the Atlantic - Azores
A gigantic underwater mountain range rises in mid-Atlantic. Just a few peaks near the surface, while nine reach still higher and form a row of green gems: the islands of the Azores. These volcanic rocks, the last toehold between Europe and America, are of extraordinary beauty. The steep shelf of the Azores is a play and mating ground for several whale species. Here, groups of male sperm whales on their endless migration from the Arctic to the Antarctic, meet females. Humpback whales and fin whales breach -and blue whales come here too, to feed on the vast biomass produced in the ocean's depths. Drifting up from the deep, plankton and krill attract huge schools of fish and squid. Portuguese Men O'War drift threateningly on the surface, while undersea caves host cannibalistic shrimps, manta rays and moray eels. On the islands, the volcanoes' grassy craters are a winter home for songbirds from Iceland, Russia and North America, while their craggy outer walls form nests for vast colonies of Cory's Shearwaters.
High Life at Low Temperatures
The summits and sheer mountain ridges of Austria's 'Little Siberia' funnel the freezing air from snow-covered peaks into a gigantic hollow - a high-level plateauat 1,000 metres from which it cannot escape: Lungau is Austria's coldest region. Creeks andstreams start higher here, and create bogs, moors and countless alpine lakes. Summer is short but lively, as eagles rear their precious young and ermines eat their fill before the sparse winter returns, while black alpine salamanders give birth to live miniature versions of themselves beneath the tree-line.
Wild Boar - The Comeback
This is the surprising story of the most underrated animal in our forests - and its remarkable comeback. Hunted, slaughtered and exterminated - that was the European wild boar's fate throughout the last century. But now it's back! Its weapons: wiliness, intelligence, and the ability to cope with society'sencroachments. Just 20 years ago an encounter with a wild boar in central Europe was a rarity. But now in some countries the stocks of wild boarhave become a plague.
The Nero Files - Uncovering an Ancient Conspiracy
He's the most notorious of all Roman emperors. Heburned Rome, he engaged in incest, and killed hismother, his wife and thousands of Christians. Hewas a psycho. But suppose it was all lies? Whatif the «crimes» he committed never happened, orwere normal behaviour for a Roman emperor? Supposehis enemies decided to trash his reputation,and succeeded for two thousand years? Was Neroactually a hero, who took from the rich and gave tothe poor? Historians, psychologists, criminologistsand toxicologists are brought in as this documentaryreopens a cold case. Together they reveal a complexweb of lies, deflections and intrigues. Flashbacksand re-enactments encourage the viewer toexplore theories that are suddenly undermined byunexpected twists. The result: a reassessment ofRoman history. It's time to re-examine the NeroFiles.
The Canary Islands
Part I: Life at the Limit
Part II: The World of the Fire Mountains
The Canary Islands -isolated in the Atlantic Ocean off the north-west coast of Africa. Each island is unique with its diversity of terrain and climate - temperate coastlines, scorching deserts, tropical rainforests and frozen, snowcapped mountains. Here are the features of a small continent, supporting one of the richest and most diverse ranges of native species on the planet.
Part I Wind and water transported pioneer seeds, insects and animals to the isolated islands. They created and flourished in microclimates like the world's only surviving temperate cloud forests. Animals and plants evolved unique features to survive in these lands. The result is startling encounters with eccentric birds and majestic whales!
Part II highlights what it takes to survive in an unforgiving habitat, focusing on the fragile balance of life on the edge, in raw landscapes of spectacular beauty. In the ultimate survival story, a rare lizard species clinging on to one single offshore rock is saved - by baby seagull droppings!
Wild Caribbean - Rhythms of Life
Part I: Hunters
Part II: Whales and Volcanoes
Part III: Corals and Quetzals
Part I Spectacular action in paradise. From the opening sequence of a sea turtle snared by a tiger shark it's clear that no animal, Hunter or Hunted - above or below the water - can make it through life without a strategy for survival.
Part II When volcanoes burst from the ocean, they attract unique life forms to their steep jungle valleys and black sandy beaches - and create deep sea chasms that pods of sperm whales enjoy so much, they never leave.
Part III Caribbean coral coasts and islands, formed out of living and once-living creatures, are now a labyrinth of life. Every year in a stunning synchronized display of coral spawning, the «flower animals» re-colonise the reefs. Inland, Caribbean cloud forests with their legendary Quetzals are just as magical, but the suffocating sediment run-off from deforestation is now the corals' biggest challenge.
Secrets of Squirrels
Everybody loves squirrels, and yet we only know them from their brief visits to ground level. Now, extraordinary HD storytelling shows them in their own environment: high up in the treetops. This documentary examines their intelligence and explores the deadly struggle for dominance between the two main species. The cute and cuddly russet acrobats are so clever they're drawing increased attention from scientists. Indeed, as they face extinction, they now depend on these scientists fortheir survival. Grey squirrels from North America are spreading fast across Europe, displacing the native red squirrel. This documentary charts both their lovable antics and the life-and-death struggle for survival of an animal that still has plenty of secrets to reveal. It observes a family of red squirrels over the course of a year, as they mate, care for their young, and battle for food and against predators.
Russia's Wild Sea
Part I: Only the Thoughest
Part II: Tides of Plenty
The Sea of Okhotsk lies between the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Japanese island of Hokkaido: the last and greatest unspoiled ocean on Earth. It can be harsh and unforgiving; temperatures drop to -40 degrees, typhoons and tsunamis lash the shores. But it's also a wildlife paradise where animals grow bigger, stronger and more numerous than anywhere else. Its iconic animals are giant brown bears, the world's biggest sea eagles and the acrobatic spotted seals. Grizzlies here don't all hibernate; some dip into the thermal baths and geysers left by the world's most active volcanoes. The few human inhabitants are held by the glory of the natural spectacles, including the world's largest seabird colonies, orca pods and humpback whales.
Far away, in south east Europe, a country dominated by high peaks and crystal-clear waters is home to a vast range of wild animals: Albania. Lake Ohrid, Europe's oldest lake, in the east, supports hundreds of endemic animals. It has outlived earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and even Ice Ages. The Balkans' largest lake, Lake Scutari, once part of the Adriatic Sea, is a vast bird reserve protecting Dalmatian pelicans, the rarest on the planet. Just 7 meters deep, Lake Scutari hosts a variety of small marshland animals that feed herons, ibis and flamingoes. In the springtime, it is covered by millions of water lilies, perfect shelter for snakes and other predators. This region also hosts the big predators: brown bears, lynx and jackals, in an intact habitat barely disturbed by humanity.This truly is a hidden Eden!
Wild Ireland - The Edge of the World
This film features Ireland's wild wonders as they have never been captured before -from humpback whales breaching off its southern shores, to puffins and manx shearwaters facing the gales of the west coast while raising their young on offshore rocks like Skelleg Island. Ireland's shores are grey seal heaven, and inland, the mountain scenes of red deer stags in the rutting season are as impressive as anywhere in Europe. Kestrels hunt from a ruined abbey in the burren, Ireland's limestone desert. Basking sharks, dolphins, squirrels, long-eared bats; there's something new at every turn, off-shore and on. Majestic salmon return from the Arctic and swim upriver into the purest freshwaters in Europe -and brave a murderous gauntlet of waterfalls and fishermen. Whooper swans fly back from their Icelandic summer to winter on Ireland's milder lakes; while in Donegal golden eagles fight the gales of the northern highlands to nurture their chicks on the sheer cliffsides.
This stunning metropolis has a flavor of two continents - Asia and Europe, divided and connected by the Bosphorus straits, where the salty waters of the Sea of Marmara mix with the currents of the Black Sea. Although the Bosporus is one of the world's busiest shipping routes, it is still a home to three species of dolphins - reminiscent of the sagas of the ancient world. Living relics of antiquity are everywhere in Istanbul: for example, the martens were imported by Egyptian traders to protect their sacks of seeds from rats and mice.
For migrating birds, Istanbul is a toehold as they head north for the European spring. But some animals have come to stay: wild wolves, invading from the east, mate with wild dogs. It continues to happen today the way it has done for generations, to the extent that some scientists now speak of a new species: the woolfdog.
Lost City of the Gladiators
The gladiator school at Carnuntum, Roman city onthe Danube, turned slaves, prisoners, and also volunteerslike our hero Atticus into skilled and brutalentertainers who could be re-exported throughoutthe Empire. Precision, speed and spectacular techniquemade them true sports stars, kept in peakcondition by their vegetarian diet and rigoroustraining. Gladiators earned well and paid privatevisits to wealthy women admirers. But a moment'sloss of concentration in the arena was lethal, andeven in death, the loser must show no Emotion.
The world's least-populated country is home to the largest steppe in the world, a fascinating desert, expansive jungles, mighty mountain summits, swamps, and more than a thousand rivers and lakes. Each landscape has its own climate, flora and fauna: snow leopards hunt argali sheep in the mountains, wolverines and lynx roam the taiga alongside reindeer and mountain hares. The steppes are home to hundreds of thousands of Mongolian gazelles, steppe eagles and Houbara bustards, while wild donkeys, camels and extremely rare Gobi bears inhabit the desert. The Tsaatan and Dukha people wander the taiga with their reindeer, Kazakh herdsmen drive yaks through the mountains and steppe nomads relocate several times a year to find new grazing land. Nowhere in the world are nature and culture so intertwined as in Mongolia. In two episodes, the documentary reveals the wonders of this fascinating country as they have never been seen before.
Europe's Last Nomads
A spectacular ancient tradition is being revived right across Europe: herdsmen leading flocks across the continent through the most savage and extreme landscapes. From Spain's legendary La Manchaplains, the last cowboys of this continent and their cattle migrate into the green highlands of Cuenca. In Romania sheep climb the Carpathian Mountains, all the way to the Ukrainian border, constantly under threat from wolves. On a Welsh island, migrating sheep even generate a habitat for rare birds.
When a female barn-owl's home - an old disused barn - is demolished, she has to seek a new place to live. On the way, flying through forests and across grasslands, she encounters most of the common owl species in Central Europe: long- and short- eared owls, little, tawny and eagle owls, some she can live peace- fully beside, others she must shun or risk becoming their prey. During her journey, the film shows how owls fly so silently and hunt so efficiently. It illustrates what they have meant to humans since ancient times, and how they live beside us today. It explains why they have become - unfairly - associated with death. Our owl finally finds a new home, as the guest of a barn owl family, in time to see the new clutch of young following their mother on their first majestic flight.