From Paddington to Primates, our selection of nature documentaries and family dramas on DVDs conjures up the wilder side of life on earth.
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Springwatch’s Chris Packham narrates BBC One’s compelling three-part documentary about our closest animal cousins. Shot over two years from the volcanic slopes of Congo to Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, remote corners of Sumatra, Malaysia, Brazil, Equatorial Guinea and Sri Lanka – and the heart of our urban landscapes – the series captures unforgettable animal behaviours and unforgiveable human-introduced perils.
“From the orangutans that lived undisturbed for 700,000 years to the frolicking rhesus macaques of Kathmandu, the BBC’s new nature blockbuster brings us closer than ever to the planet of the apes.” Guardian
Peter Ustinov voices this evergreen family classic, based on the much-loved Henry Williamson novel, that follows the exploits of a playful otter from young pup to parenthood. Both hunter and hunted, Tarka’s journey is a poignant portrayal of unvarnished nature and humankind’s ill-fated interventions. Beautifully shot by David Cobham, who co-wrote the script with Gerald Durrell.
“Tarka’s adventures, particularly his run-in with Deadlock the otter hound, are skilfully staged and vividly brought to life.” Radio Times
Fox cub Tag is rescued from the woods, adopted by ageing huntsman Asher (Eric Porter) and reared alongside a litter of hound puppies including Merlin, with whom Tag develops a special bond. As Tag’s natural cunning leads the pack and hunters in many a merry chase, the fox becomes a local celebrity. Until a nerve-jangling finale that could end in catastrophe.
“Porter is solid as the hunter who brings the baby fox to the hound for nurturing. Hats off to the trainers and technical experts who let the animals steal the show.” TV Guide
David Attenborough presents this engrossing five-part documentary series focusing on the lives of five of the world’s most celebrated and endangered animals: the chimpanzee, emperor penguin, lion, painted wolf and tiger. From African plains to Indian jungles, from the edge of the Sahara to the frozen wastes of Antarctica, join these extraordinary animals in their most intimate rivalries and heroic battles against the odds.
“An extraordinary tale of nature’s power politics.” Telegraph
Ben Wishaw voices the world’s friendliest bear in this warm-hearted live-action/CGI comedy starring Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins as Paddington’s carers Mr and Mrs Brown, Julie Walters as housekeeper Mrs Bird, Jim Broadbent as kindly Mr Gruber, Peter Capaldi as irritable neighbour Mr Curry, and Nicole Kidman as taxidermist Millicent Clyde, who has fiendish designs on Paddington’s pelt.
“Marmaladen with gloriously silly jokes, pitch-perfect performances and incidental detail, this is a warm, witty and wondrously inventive great big bear-hug of a movie.” Empire
Richard Gere stars in Lasse Hallström’s remake of the 1987 Japanese film Hachikō Monogatari, based on the true story of an unbreakable bond between a loyal Akita dog and his human master. Gere plays college professor Parker Wilson, who gives a home to the abandoned pooch, and the pair’s devoted companionship melts the hearts of the whole town – until tear-jerking tragedy strikes.
“A brazenly uncomplicated treat for dog lovers. Gere comes into his own for the bonding: all twinkly, hard-won wisdom, flashing just a tantalising glint of misspent youth.” Guardian
Filmmaker-turned-farmer John Chester documents his and his wife Mary’s reconnection with nature by giving up city life in Los Angeles and relocating to Apricot Lane Farms. Their eight-year revival of previously barren land is testament to the power of nature to heal and restore, and a celebration of natural biodiversity and healthier living.
“Visually ravishing, thought-provoking and optimistic.” The Times
Narrated by Bernard Hill, this stunning, expansive BBC series peeks beneath China’s political veneer to reveal the natural habitats and creatures that reflect the epic scale of the vast country. From the icy peaks of the Himalayas, the windswept Tibetan plateau and the Mongolian-Manchurian grassland to searing deserts and tropical islands, a dazzling array of mysterious, beautiful, wild and rare creatures are uncovered, from jumping spiders and bejewelled birds to the iconic giant panda and Siberian tiger.
“About as purely spectacular as television is ever likely to get.” Independent
David Attenborough fronts the BBC’s jaw-dropping natural history documentary about the world’s oceans, uncovering spectacular new species, plumbing previously uncharted habitats and relating stunning survival stories. Using cutting-edge technology to delve beneath the waves, from teeming shallows to unexpected life forms in the mysterious depths, the series also delivers a sobering message about humanity’s devastating effects on sea life, from plastic waste and overfishing to the bleaching of coral reefs.
“The greatest nature series of all time.” The Atlantic
First broadcast a decade apart in 2006 and 2016, the BBC’s landmark nature series offers a definitive survey of the natural world. David Attenborough brings all his formidable expertise, experience and candour to bear on this unprecedented overview of life on earth, immersing audiences in spectacular and surprising habitats over land, air and water, from the richest rainforests and deepest oceans to the most arid deserts.
“Lush photography captures the natural world in as close to an undisturbed state as one can reach. But, from the first moments of the very first episode, we are reminded of ourselves.” The Week
Hugh Bonneville narrates this comprehensive study of the stunning, often secretive wildlife with which Britons share their home. From the Cornish coast to the Shetland Islands, sheltered forests, broad wetlands, mountainsides and soaring cliffs, our islands’ diverse habitats offer advantages and challenges to creatures great and small, from majestic golden eagles and elusive otters to rummaging badgers and playful bottlenose dolphins.
“Wild creatures in all their magnificent glory are showcased with some of the most dramatic scenes ever filmed for television.” Express
Browse our complete collection of animals on screen – including the heartwarming A Street Cat Named Bob and the Oscar-winning Born Free
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