Obviously, at BBC Countryfile Magazine, we love Britain's wildlife and landscapes, diverse habitats and natural wonders. So the news that Sir David Attenborough, at the grand age of 96, will be presenting a bold new documentary series focused on the wild jewels of Britain has left us giddy with excitement.

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From magnificent white-tailed eagles swooping over wind-swept seas, to butterflies in battle, Wild Isles promises a wild feast for the senses. Here's everything there is to know about the series so far - and we will update details as we find out more...

White-Tailed Sea Eagle hunting over Raasay Sound, Skye/Credi
White-tailed eagle hunting over Raasay Sound, Skye/Credit: Getty Getty

What is Wild Isles?

Wild Isles is an ambitious BBC documentary series filmed in Britain over the past three years, focusing on the wealth of wildlife and habitat to be found on our isles. The programme uses cutting-edge filming techniques to capture extraordinary footage of Britain's nature in the raw, from ancient oak woodlands and rare hay meadows to seabird breeding colonies and precious chalk streams.

Brown trout underwater with sunbeams above
Brown trout hunting in the margins of the River Test, a chalk stream in South England/Credit: Getty

How many episodes of Wild Isles are there?

There are five episodes in total - an introductory episode about British wildlife, and one each focused on Britain's four key habitat types: woodland, grassland, marine and freshwater.


Which species will appear?

Some of the spectacular species set to feature are magnificent white-tailed eagles, powerful killer whales, blue fin tuna gathering off the coast of Cornwall, wild horses battling for access to females in Cambridgeshire; gulls stealing fish from puffins off Northumberland; black grouse and hen harriers courting in the Cairngorms; red deer stags rutting in a wild corner of Ireland; mayfly hatching on a river in Wiltshire; foxes hunting rabbits at night; and even a bee riding a broomstick in Dorset.

Red deer stag stands proud against a red-tinged sunset./Credit: Getty

When is Wild Isles on?

The series will broadcast in spring, likely March, although details are yet to be confirmed.


Why focus on Britain?

Britain and Ireland have some of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes on Earth. We have more ancient oak trees than the rest of Europe put together. Our remaining flower meadows are a vital refuge for breeding birds and butterflies and our coasts are home to internationally important numbers of seabirds.

Sixty per cent of the world’s chalk streams flow in southern England. However, our wildlife is increasingly fragmented and fragile - this series explains the challenges nature faces today, and what can be done to make these wild isles even wilder in the future.

Seabirds on a rock
Our coasts are home to internationally important numbers of seabirds, including guillemots/Credit: Getty

Who is making it?

Presented by Sir David Attenborough, Wild Isles has been made by Silverback Films for BBC One and is co-produced by the Open University, the RSPB and WWF.


What do the makers say?

Sir David says: “In my long lifetime, I have travelled to almost every corner of our planet. I can assure you that in the British Isles, as well as astonishing scenery there are extraordinary animal dramas and wildlife spectacles to match anything I have seen on my global travels.”

Jack Bootle, head of commissioning, science and natural history, says: “The multi-award winning team at Silverback are creating an eye-opening celebration of British and Irish wildlife that has to be seen to be believed. You’ll think a meadow in Somerset is as beautiful as the Serengeti, and the North Atlantic as wild and dramatic as the Antarctic Ocean.’’

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Dr Philip Wheeler, senior lecturer in ecology at the Open University, says: “We are so used to seeing exotic places and species on wildlife documentaries that it is brilliant to see the wildlife of the British Isles presented in this way. Wild Isles shows how nature closer to home has amazing stories to tell and it is a real privilege to be able to contribute academic expertise from the OU to the series. I hope the public interest this series generates will give wildlife in Britain and Ireland the boost it urgently needs.”

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Authors

Maria Hodson is production editor at BBC Countryfile Magazine, alongside Margaret Bartlett. Since moving to Bristol in 2014, Maria has made every effort to escape into nature and loves all things wild and watery, from surfing and swimming to paddle-boarding and kayaking. Her adventure highlight in recent years was sea kayaking around remote St Kilda, off the coast north-west Scotland, in 2016. Most weekends, however, are spent exploring the great outdoors with her small child and doing accessible walks. Favourite family adventures are bird-watching at Slimbridge Wetland Centre and exploring the Forest of Dean, as well as an annual pilgrimage to see the starling murmuration on the Somerset Levels.

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