The Best Episodes of Human Planet
Last Updated: May 15, 2019
Following in the footsteps of Planet Earth and Life, this epic eight-part blockbuster is a breathtaking celebration of the amazing, complex, profound and sometimes challenging relationship between humankind and nature. Humans are the ultimate animals – the most successful species on the planet. From the frozen Arctic to steamy rainforests, from tiny islands in vast oceans to parched deserts, people have found remarkable ways to adapt and survive in the harshest environments imaginable. We’ve done this by harnessing our immense courage and ingenuity; learning to live with and utilise the other creatures that share these wild places. Human Planet weaves together eighty inspiring stories, many never told before on television, set to a globally influenced soundtrack by award-winning composer Nitin Sawhney. Each episode focuses on a particular habitat and reveals how its people have created astonishing solutions in the face of extreme adversity. Finally we visit the urban jungle, where most of us now live, and discover why the connection between humanity and nature in our cities is the most vital of all. Human Planet is brought to you by BBC Earth, creator of 50 years of outstanding natural history content.
#1 - Mountains - Life in Thin Air
Season 1 - Episode 5
From lush cloud forests to bare summits that take your breath away, the higher you climb the tougher life gets on a mountain. Human Planet explores the extraordinary ways in which people survive at extreme altitudes where nature becomes utterly unforgiving. In the Altai Mountains in Western Mongolia the vast open spaces make hunting for animals almost impossible, so the locals have forged an astonishing partnership with golden eagles which can do the hunting for them. On the precipitous cliffs of the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia we join a young boy locked in a dramatic battle with fearsome gelada monkeys which are hell-bent on raiding his family's meagre grain harvest. In the Himalayan state of Nepal - the roof of the world - we witness a rarely seen ceremony: a sky burial. In a land where there is little wood to burn for cremation, and where burying the dead is virtually impossible, the dead are fed to vultures in the ultimate reverence of nature.
#2 - Cities - Surviving the Urban Jungle
Season 1 - Episode 8
A look at the one environment that's been made by us for us - the city. Over half of the world's population now lives in the urban jungle. The city is built to keep untamed nature out - but nature can't be pushed away. From bed bugs sucking our blood at night to rats in our restaurants, many animals have adapted to a life with us. But not all urban animals are seen as pests. In the ancient City of Fez in Morocco, the leather tanneries depend for their business on wild pigeon droppings. Even futuristic Dubai would falter without falcons. In the suburbs of Jaipur, a Bishnoi woman breastfeeds an orphaned fawn. People are starting to realise that nature is key to our continued survival. On Manhattan's rooftops we find a community of beekeepers. In Masdar, Abu Dhabi, British architect Norman Foster is creating a carbon-neutral waste-free future city. Is this the future? The human planet is starting to realise that we'll only survive if we protect nature.
#3 - Arctic - Life in the Deep Freeze
Season 1 - Episode 3
The Arctic is the harshest environment on Earth: little food grows, it's dark for months on end, and temperatures stay well below freezing for much of the year. Yet four million people manage to survive here. Human Planet tells remarkable stories of extraordinary people who make their homes in nature's deep freeze. In springtime, Amos and Karl-Frederik set out across the sea ice with their dogs to catch a real-life sea monster: a Greenland shark! Inuit mussel-gatherers venture underneath the sea ice at low tide for a perilous race against time as they gather their food. And the children of Churchill, Manitoba, set out on the most dangerous trick or treating Halloween in the world: they risk coming face-to-face with deadly polar bears on the streets of their town. Who'll get the tastiest snack?
#4 - Jungles - People of the Trees
Season 1 - Episode 4
The rainforest is home to more species of plants and animals than any other habitat on the planet. But for humans, life there is not as easy as it looks. Life in the trees requires great skill, ingenuity and sheer bravery. The Matis of Brazil carve 4-metre-long blow-pipes to hunt monkeys - in near total silence. Deep in the Congo forests, Tete defies death by scaling a giant tree using nothing more than a liana vine, and he must then negotiate an angry swarm of bees - all to collect honey for his family. Three children from Venezuela's Piaroa tribe venture deep into the jungle to hunt tarantulas - to toast for lunch! In West Papua the Korowai tribe show-off their engineering skills by building a high-rise home 35 metres up in the tree tops. Most memorable of all, in Brazil we join a unique monitoring flight in search an un-contacted tribe...
#5 - Rivers - Friend and Foe
Season 1 - Episode 7
Rivers provide the essentials of life: fresh food and water. They often provide natural highways and enable us to live in just about every environment on Earth. But rivers can also flood, freeze or disappear altogether! Human Planet joins Sam Niang, a Laotian fisherman, as he walks a high wire strung above the raging Mekong River rapids on an extraordinary commute to work. There's also a look at the remarkable partnership between Samburu tribesmen and wild elephants in their search for water in the dried-out river beds of Northern Kenya. Plus, a father who must take his two children on a six-day trek down a frozen river - the most dangerous school run on Earth, and the ice dam busters of Ottowa with their dynamite solution to a city centre hold-up.
#6 - Deserts - Life in the Furnace
Season 1 - Episode 2
We can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water: it is the essential element of life. Yet many millions of us live in parched deserts around the world. In the second episode of Human Planet, we discover how the eternal quest for water brings huge challenges - and ingenious solutions - in the driest places on Earth. Battling through a sand storm in Mali, Mamadou must get his cows to a remote lake but desert elephants have arrived first. Can he find a safe way through the elephant blockade? Alone for weeks on end, Tubu women and children navigate the endless dunes of the Sahara. How does young Shede know where to find the last oasis, three days walk across the sea of sand? At the height of the drought we witness a spectacular frenzy: two thousand men rushing into Antogo Lake to catch the fish trapped by the evaporating water. When the rain finally arrives in the desert it's a time for flowering and jubilation - and love. The Wodaabe men of Niger put on make-up for an intoxicating courtship dance and beauty contest.
#7 - Grasslands - The Roots of Power
Season 1 - Episode 6
Grasslands feed the world. Over thousands of years, we humans have learned to grow grains on the grasslands and domesticate the creatures that live there. Our success has propelled our population to almost seven billion people. But this episode reveals that, even today, life in the 'Garden of Eden' isn't always rosy. We walk with the Dorobo people of Kenya as they bravely attempt to scare off a pride of hungry lions from their freshly caught kill. We gallop across the Steppe with extraordinary Mongolian horsemen who were 'born in the saddle'. And in a perfect partnership with nature built up over generations Maasai children must literally talk to the birds! The honeyguide leads them to find sweet treats, but they'll have to repay the favour.
#8 - Oceans - Into the Blue
Season 1 - Episode 1
As an air-breathing animal, the human is not built to survive in water. But people have found ways to live an almost aquatic life so they can exploit the sea's riches. From a 'shark-whisperer' in the Pacific to Brazilian fishermen collaborating with dolphins to catch mullet, this journey into the blue reveals astonishing tales of ingenuity and bravery. Daredevil Galician barnacle-collectors defy death on the rocks for a catch worth 200 pounds per kilo. In Indonesia an epic whale-hunt, using traditional hand-made boats and harpoons, brings in a sperm whale. The Bajau 'sea gypsies' of the Sulu Sea spend so much time on water they get 'land sick' when they set foot on the land! We dive 40 metres down to the dangerous world of the Pa-aling fishermen, where dozens of young men, breathing air through a tangled web of pipes attached to a diesel engine, capture thousands of fish in a vast net. We see how surfing has its origins in the ancient beliefs of the ocean-loving Polynesians, and we join a Borneo free-diving spear-fisherman on a breath-taking journey 20 metres down in search of supper.