The BEST Episodes of Natural World
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Dec 3, 2019
Network: BBC Two
Conceived by Sir David Attenborough in 1967, Natural World is the longest-running nature documentary series on British television. 2008 marked the series’ 25th anniversary under its present title, though its origins can be traced back to its predecessor The World About Us which began over 40 years ago. Natural World is broadcast on BBC Two in the autumn and spring seasons, with 17 episodes commissioned by the BBC each year. Production duties are shared between its in-house Natural History Unit, independent UK production companies and leading wildlife filmmakers from around the world.
#1 - Save The Panda
Season 1 - Episode 1
#2 - Birds of Paradox
Season 1 - Episode 6
#3 - Andrea - Queen Of Mantas
Season 29 - Episode 3
Manta rays are one of the most intelligent creatures in the ocean and, at up to seven metres long, one of the largest. Yet despite their size and curious nature, almost nothing is known about their lives. Young marine biologist Andrea Marshall has given up everything for a life in Mozambique, diving amongst these beautiful animals. Superb underwater photography reveals new manta ray behaviour including breathtaking footage of their ritual courtship dances. The film follows Andrea as she studies these endangered animals up close. With the discovery of a giant new species and remarkable insights into mantas' secretive lives, Andrea's findings are already rocking the world of marine biology.
#4 - A Killer Whale Called Luna
Season 29 - Episode 9
This is the emotional story of one young killer whale's quest for companionship after he was separated from his family. Luna was just two years old when, alone and confused, he found himself on the rugged, wild coast of Vancouver Island. Following his tumultuous life, the film records the human friendships he developed and the trouble this led him into. From death threats, to numerous capture attempts by the government, the film-makers watched as people tried to determine his fate. Luna shows us how quickly our lives can once again cross with the natural world.
#5 - Among The Wild Chimpanzees
Season 3 - Episode 1
#6 - The Year Of The Rat
Season 3 - Episode 13
#7 - Naabi - A Hyena Princess
Season 27 - Episode 13
The story of Naabi, a young hyena growing up in Tanzania. Here hyenas aren't just scavengers, they're also skilled hunters when they work together in the clan. But life is still a struggle, and except for the few weeks a year when the wildebeest pass through, there isn't enough food to go around. Lions are their mortal enemies - they are quick to attack hyenas and often scavenge their kills. After Naabi's mother is killed by lions, life becomes even more difficult for the young hyena and she's forced to leave the clan, braving the perils of the outside world as she travels alone in search of food.
#8 - Hokkaido: Garden of the Gods
Season 18 - Episode 2
A look at the unique wildlife of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, and the island's few remaining members of the ancient Ainu race, who see all animals as sacred. Swept by winds from the high Arctic, Hokkaido is an island of towering volcanos and fairytale forests, where cranes perform dances in the snow, brown bears plunge for salmon in rivers and eagles plunder the spoils from winter fishing fleets. The unique wildlife of Hokkaido has long been worshipped by an ancient race of hunter-gatherers, called Ainu, a few of whom still survive among modern Japanese. Even today, they honour the natural world around them through ritualised dance and prayer.
#9 - The Himalayas
Season 30 - Episode 4
The Himalayas look beautiful and lifeless, unable to give anything, not even enough air. Yet this powerful film reveals the Himalayas provide many gifts - water and food for animals, and for people too, rice and religion, or pets and perfumes.
#10 - Panda Makers
Season 30 - Episode 7
Giant Pandas were on the brink of extinction but now they are coming back, thanks to an extraordinary conservation project. The Chengdu Research Base in central China is at the heart of a project to breed 300 pandas, and then start introducing them back into the wild. It is the most ambitious and controversial conservation effort ever mounted. Shot over two years, this film follows the pandas and keepers as, through visionary science and round-the-clock care, they edge closer to the magic number of 300.
#11 - Giant Squid: Filming the Impossible - Natural World Special
Season 33 - Episode 2
The giant squid, a creature of legend and myth which even in the 21st century, has never been seen alive. But now, an international team of scientists think they have finally found their lair, one thousand metres down, off the coast of Japan. This is the culmination of decades of research. The team deploys underwater robots and state of the art submersible vessels for a world first - to find and film the impossible.
#12 - Komodo - Secrets of the Dragon
Season 31 - Episode 4
The Komodo dragon was discovered one hundred years ago, yet the true nature of the biggest lizard in the world is only just being uncovered. Using hi-tech tools to take a fresh look at this prehistoric beast, Dr Bryan Fry discovers there is a lot more to the dragon than meets the eye - from hidden venom glands to its secret origins.
#13 - Africa's Fishing Leopards
Season 35 - Episode 1
David Attenborough narrates the intimate story of a leopard mother and her two cubs. This very special family must survive in the wilds of Botswana alongside some less-than-friendly neighbours: lions, wild dogs and hyenas. The competition for food is tough, and if they are going to make it they must learn a new skill - they must learn to fish. This is an epic family drama. With them every step of the way is local cameraman Brad Bestelink. Brad's 18-month journey following the lives of these secretive big cats offers a rare glimpse into an otherwise hidden world.
#14 - From Aadvark To Zebra
Season 1 - Episode 2
#15 - Secret Weapons
Season 1 - Episode 5
#16 - Long Point
Season 2 - Episode 5
#17 - Birds of Paradise
Season 29 - Episode 8
Living in the depths of the New Guinea rainforest are the spectacular birds of paradise - creatures so beautiful that the first Europeans believed they must have fallen from heaven. Filming their bizarre courtship displays is the Holy Grail of wildlife film makers: some perform like iridescent acrobats, others make hypnotic pulsing sounds as they quiver and vibrate. David Attenborough narrates the film. He has been entranced by these birds since he was a boy and he introduces a team of New Guinean naturalists as they embark on a gruelling expedition to try to film ten birds of paradise deep in the heart of the rainforest.
#18 - Through Animal Eyes
Season 3 - Episode 14
#19 - Spacechimp
Season 27 - Episode 8
In 1961, a four-year-old chimpanzee named Ham became the first animal to return from space alive. He proved that humans could survive the extreme conditions of space. This drama, based on NASA's records and archive footage, tells the story of this remarkable chimp and Jeff, the handler who came to love him over two years of training.
#20 - Clever Monkeys
Season 28 - Episode 3
David Attenborough's entertaining romp through the world of monkeys has a serious side: for when we look at monkeys we can see ourselves. From memory to morality, from 'crying wolf' to politics, monkeys are our basic blueprint. Pygmy marmosets 'farm' tree sap; bearded capuchins in Brazil develop a production line for extracting palm nuts; white-faced capuchins in Costa Rica tenderly nurse the victims of battle; and in the Ethiopian highlands a deposed gelada baboon has got the blues.
#21 - Echo of the Elephants - The Final Chapter?
Season 23 - Episode 8
Documentary following the latest chapter in the story of Echo the female elephant and her family in the Kenyan National Park of Amboseli. Scientist Cynthia Moss believes she is charting the 59-year-old matriarch's decline - until she makes a surprising discovery. Narrated by David Attenborough. Part of 100 Years of Wildlife Week
#22 - Superfish
Season 27 - Episode 15
The billfish are the biggest, fastest, and most dangerous gamefish in the sea. All have captured man's imagination like few other creatures, whether it's the graceful sailfish, the menacing swordfish or queen of them all, the marlin, immortalized by Hemingway in 'The Old Man and the Sea'. Marine biologist and film-maker Rick Rosenthal has travelled three oceans in his attempt to capture them all on film, and in doing so has become a passionate champion for these endangered yet little-known ocean giants.
#23 - The Monkey-Eating Eagle of the Orinoco
Season 30 - Episode 1
The harpy eagle is the most powerful bird of prey in the world, plucking monkeys from the branches of the jungle canopy. Rare and elusive, they are seldom seen, but with the discovery of a harpy nest in the remote Orinoco rainforest of Venezuela, wildlife film-maker Fergus Beeley has a unique opportunity to follow the life of a chick from birth to adulthood. Fergus ascends high into the canopy to reveal a stunning world of colour and sound, following the trials of the harpy eagle's newly hatched chick as it grows up. Fergus becomes just another member of the dazzling community of birds and animals surrounding the harpy nest and develops an unexpectedly close bond with the chick.
#24 - Empire of the Desert Ants
Season 31 - Episode 2
Natural World visits the Arizona desert, where a new honey ant queen wages an intense battle for survival as she attempts to build and defend her empire. Eliminating rivals with ruthless efficiency, sacrificing thousands in her quest for domination, murder, cannibalism, genocide - she will do anything to keep her crown. Empire of the Ants is the epic story of one honey ant queen's dramatic rise to power - her brutal fall from grace.
#25 - Giant Otters of the Amazon
Season 32 - Episode 9
Diablo the giant otter lives in a lake in the jungles of Peru, with his unruly family of six cubs. Even at the tender age of six months, they need to learn how to survive in this dangerous paradise. Their dad teaches them to swim and eventually to catch piranha for themselves, but they must also learn to stay away from the neighbours from hell - the giant caiman. These large members of the crocodile family are a real threat to the giant otter family and Diablo must go to extraordinary lengths to try to protect his cubs. Renowned cameraman and otter specialist Charlie Hamilton-James returns to the place he first filmed Diablo thirteen years ago. Following the family over several months, sometimes in very difficult conditions, he discovers how perilous a home this is for the cubs and watches them develop under the careful guidance of their father. He also films remarkable scenes of the giant otters fighting the caiman.