Secrets from the set: Our Changing Planet

Secrets from the set: Our Changing Planet

UK producer-director Laura Flegg reveals the behind-the-scenes of BBC1’s Our Changing Planet. Revealing the lengths the show’s explorers went to.

From releasing rare crocodiles into the wild to visiting forests decimated by wildfires and listening to coral reefs. In the latest series of this ambitious wildlife show, TV naturalists learn about the exciting science being used to combat climate change in six different locations.

Despite a huge team masterminding the docu-series, not everything went as expected.

In Cambodia explorer Ella Al-Shamahi joined a group of scientists on a mission to release rare Siamese crocodiles into the rainforest. This involved transporting the creatures on mopeds.
In one shot, we see Ella and the team struggling to cross a river carrying the crocodile-laden motorbikes.

what we’re not told is that the local experts expected the river to be dry, so were shocked to see the flowing water.

After an in-the-moment risk assessment, they decided to brave it. ‘It was a real expedition,’ says producer-director Laura Flegg. ‘It wasn’t just about getting across the river, it’s what was in the river that might be dangerous as well.’

Extra-special precautions had to be taken in a very remote part of Greenland, a region without Wi-Fi or phone signal where naturalist Chris Packham helped sedate a herd of musk oxen for research. 

The scientists could only be in the area for four weeks, so there was extra pressure on the crew to film without compromising their work. But how do you avoid being knocked over by a musk ox? 

‘We scheduled a morning of musk ox collaring practice,’ reveals Laura – everyone had to rehearse surrounding an imaginary musk ox so that the vet could dart it safely and the crew could get a good shot.

When Liz Bonnin travelled to California to find out about the wildfires destroying the region, the team wanted to film her standing by a burnt-out giant sequoia tree because the species, which is unique to the region, has been devastated. But the crew struggled to find the right tree as it’s dangerous to enter fire-ravaged parts of the forest. 

A local couple, Kathy and Richard, both giant sequoia enthusiasts, came to the rescue to locate the perfect spot – saving weeks of searching!

  • Our Changing Planet is on Sunday at 7pm on BBC1 and on BBC iPlayer.