by Dina Mufti, Assistant Producer on Mountains/Education Producer of Human Planet
After Human Planet took the UK by storm, the series is now coming to the US this Sunday on Discovery at 8pm. We are so excited about the US launch and we hope you will enjoy watching the series just as much as we enjoyed making it. We’ve so many production tales to tell I wanted to share with you why having the chance to work on the Human Planet project is so rewarding for me personally. I was 11 years old and I was walking through the cobbled streets of Lisbon holding my father’s hand looking for the tomb of Vasco da Gama. In 1497 the great Portuguese explorer had set sail with his crew in search of the end of the world. I can recollect looking up at his tomb as my father explained all this to me and from that moment on I wanted to travel.
When I came home my geography classes at school took on a whole new meaning. The maps and photographs of mysterious people around the world became three dimensional, brought to life by my dream of sailing with Vasco da Gama discovering the world and its diverse characters. My father had used a clever trick – by enlivening my imagination, my geography classes suddenly became exciting and I wanted to learn more. The way people lived their lives around the world and the different environments they lived in became more intriguing and, most essentially, became connected to my own.
Passing on knowledge that opens the minds of young people – from a father to a daughter or as a programme maker to an audience – is one of the richest rewards in life. So when I was asked to re-edit some of the Human Planet stories that you’ll see in the series for geography classes in schools, old da Gama and I brushed the dust off the sails and were on our way again. And we had a gift – this time the pictures were not painted by flat maps and text book descriptions but by the awe-inspiring footage from the Human Planet series.
Through central characters children will be guided through genuine experiences and learn valuable lessons about survival and management within our changing environment. From their classrooms they can begin to voyage – and ask important questions that will affect their future and shape the world they live in. Like me, padding across those cobbled streets so long ago, they can become explorers – and set sail with Vasco da Gama… something tells me he would be pretty happy about that…