TV preview: Life Story

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A quick glance at the title of this new programme might suggest that it’s some kind of spin-off from Who Do You Think You Are? but it’s an altogether different kettle of fish.

In fact, fish are far more likely to appear than celebrities charting their family history.

The irrepressible David Attenborough takes the reigns, while the series itself charts life in the animal kingdom through six crucial stages: first steps, growing up, finding a home, gaining power, winning a mate and succeeding as a parent.

Attenborough begins the story at the very start of life, revealing how young creatures often face massive challenges during their first days, including two-day-old barnacle geese who must deal with a 400ft drop to reach food before they can even fly.

Even predators such as the mighty lion are not immune to danger - only one in five cubs survive to adulthood.

Many of the stories featured have never been captured on film before - including one involving a humpback whale who selflessly rescues a youngster from a shark off the coast of America.

Life Story is also the first major series to be shot in ultra high definition, so we’re sure to get some amazing pictures.

“I think Life Story has raised the bar again in our natural history ‘landmarks’,” says executive producer Mike Gunton.

“Shooting in ultra high definition has been amazing - there is such a high level of intensity and insight, I think the audience will see the extraordinary ways animals survive in a wonderfully new light... and of course David Attenborough tells all the stories brilliantly.”

Attenborough has undergone personal tragedy recently with the death of his brother, Lord Richard Attenborough, but the series was made before that happened.

Gunton is clear that, despite his advancing years, Sir David is as keen as ever to be making programmes.

“He absolutely loves extraordinary animal behaviour,” explains Gunton. “When I asked him if he wanted to be involved in this he said, ‘I’d be furious if anybody else does it.’ He gets so excited about new pieces of behaviour that people haven’t seen before. That is a spur to us.

“There’s nothing like delivering something and getting his approval. The first thing I ever did for the BBC was work with him on Trials Of Life and in some ways Life Story is a modern iteration of that story. It’s really nice to be able to come back and do that again with him, but to take it on to a new level.”

We should also, apparently, use Attenborough’s involvement with the series as a mark of its quality: “Having David involved means that this is a definitive piece,” Gunton adds.

“David’s involvement brings with it a sense of significance - he’s almost a kitemark of authority and importance. He only does the big stuff.”

So, if you happen to be a fan of Attenborough’s work, or of natural history programmes in general, this is clearly not a programme to be missed.

Life Story, Thursday 9pm, BBC1

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