Posts Tagged ‘Timothy Allen photographer’

The End and the Beginning of Human Planet

by Dale Templar, Series Producer

Dale pictured in Mongolia on a shoot to film the Eagle Hunters sequence from the Mountains programme.

Last Thursday saw the final episode of Human Planet transmit in the UK.  I had mixed feelings as I watched the end credits roll for the last time.  After three intense years, sending teams to over 70 locations including some of the remotest places on earth, this really did mark the end of the formal production process on the series.  It is always sad when a production ends.  Virtually all of my amazingly talent team have gone - many already on new adventures around the world.  There is literally just a handful of us left in the Bristol and Cardiff offices.

Dale with some of the Human Planet team. From left - right (front) Edit Assistant Craig Haywood, (Dale), Technical Co-ordinator Jasper Montana, Production Co-ordinator Isabelle Corr, Production Manager Alison Brown-Humes. (Back) Production Management Assistant Julia Wellard, Production Co-ordinator Jo Manley (Photo copyright Timothy Allen 2010)

But Human Planet has been different from any other programme I have ever worked on.  Normally the last UK transmission would be the end of the series.  For Human Planet it feels like a new beginning.  For a start I am still in slight shock at the amazingly intense and positive reaction we have had to the series from people of all age groups.  The series has been praised by  members of the Royal Geographical Society, it’s been the focus of talk and gossip around office water coolers and it’s been making news particuarly online.  I’m especially pleased that the series has  connected with a younger audience - there’s  been a buzz on Twitter and Facebook and millions of hits on You Tube.  One young mum  told me her 3 year old son was a huge fan of Human Planet, watching every episode without fail!  No programme maker can ever be sure of a hit.  This is a very fickle industry and audiences can never be guaranteed even when you’ve made a landmark series for the BBC.  The feeling is that Human Planet is a fresh and different type of landmark.  Many people, even those who don’t normally enjoy natural history have become hooked on humans!

Dorobo hunter Rakita from our Grasslands programme who's hunting traditions are being stopped by Kenyan law. Human Planet captured them stealing a lion's kill, something that possibly might not be seen again. (Copyright Jane Atkins/BBC)

Personally I hope this new found passion for humanity will continue.  The series is a spectacular snapshot of the diverse human world we live in.  But the world is changing fast, very fast.  It’s becoming increasingly hermogenised.  Even now one City looks much like the next - same Starbucks , same McDonald’s.  Human Planet filmed with people who still directly depend on the natural world for their survival but their wisdom and customs may soon be disappear.  The human species cannot be set in aspic but I think many of the stories we filmed will be gone within the next 10 years.

Where it all began here in the UK with Bajau free-diver Sulbin in our Oceans programme. More of Timothy Allen's stunning photos feature in the Human Planet book - availiable now.

So what next? The series is now out on DVD/Blu-Ray and the book is in the shops.  Next month it jumps across the Atlantic to be shown on Discovery Channel (a different version from the one showing in the UK)   Then the UK version will start being shown on television around the world.  So look out for Human Planet in your neck of the woods!  Hopefully the BBC will commission a second series, watch this space…

So hopefully the end is truly just the beginning…I can only hope that this series sparks an interest in the challenges facing our human planet and that more is done to protect the incredible diversity, languages and cultures of our magnificent species.

Long live the Human Planet and all that sail on her!

A Papuan tribesmen adorned with feathers from birds of paradise from our Jungles programme (copyright Timothy Allen/BBC)

Too Good to be True

By Karina Moreton

Karina on location in the Gobi desert

Mongolia has mountains, grasslands and desert, so it was a perfect location for filming some fascinating stories for Human Planet.  When I was asked to be the teams’ fixer in Mongolia, I had a ‘pinch me’ moment – here was an opportunity for me to show off the country that I love so much , to producers at the BBC’s  Natural History Unit!  Armed with maps, photos and anecdotes, we discussed a wide range of potential stories and we settled on a few.  Based in the UK ,  my role is to set up recces and shoots for film shoots.  However,   I am always trying to dream up ways to get on location myself rather than to be just co-ordinating  from the office.  The winter Gobi shoot for the Deserts programme promised to be a tricky one, so I wangled my way onto it.

In the weeks up to our arrival, my colleague Esee travelled to the remote South Gobi talking to camel herders about wolves.  It was a big ask.  We wanted to find a family who were affected by wolves killing their livestock; who had pregnant camels due to give birth during our time there; who lived near the snow line – who looked good on camera… and who were happy for a team of us live with them and film them for a few weeks! 

Somehow the amazing Esee found the right candidates - camel herder Ganbold and his family. Once the teams started filming, I had a whole host of questions thrown at me  ‘how do we film if the wolf attacks at night without freezing to death?”.  One moment we would be discussing the likelihood of a snowstorm in the Gobi desert in the first few weeks of February; the next dealing with the fact that the only town in the South Gobi has run out of firewood.

Otgonjargal, Tuppence, Khosbayar, Osokhbayar and Otgonbayar

I am sure the viewers  will connect with these warm-hearted people and learn from their daily challenges.  It is the moments that weren’t captured on camera that will remain with me – the time when 6 year old Otgonbayar and I shared the very intimate moment of a lamb being born; the serene solitude of his elder sister riding off into the empty desert with their flock; and the giggles shared with the girls in the ger.

Mongolia and her people have captured my heart.  I am so happy that audiences around the world will be able to have an insight into the culture and landscapes of this incredible country.  Over the years, I have gained so much from the Mongolian nomads I have spent time with.  Panoramic Journeys, who I work for,  always give back to the families and communities they work with.  Ganbold and his family now supplement their income by hosting guests who would like to experience their lifestyle first hand.

Little Otgonbayar was keen to know when the photographs and footage that we’d shot  would be seen by them all .  I was four months pregnant at the time, and so it was handy to be able to say that the Human Planet book featuring the photos of stills photographer Tim Allen  wouldn’t be published until my baby was running.  I continue to pinch myself, for although my work for HP has come to an end, Ganbold and his family remain friends.  My son is nearly walking now – but  I will be returning to the Gobi with The Human Planet book and the series on my laptop very soon.

Welcome to Human Planet

Dale Templar, Series Producer

Dale Templar, Series Producer

by Dale Templar, Series Producer

So what is Human Planet? Human Planet is a new 8×50 minute landmark documentary series being made by BBC Television. The series celebrates the human species and looks at our relationship with the natural world by showing the remarkable ways we have adapted to life in every environment on earth. It is due to be transmitted in the UK in the New Year 2011 and will be rolled out across the world soon after.

The production team is split across two sites, one in Bristol and one in Cardiff.

In BBC Bristol we are part of the world renowned Natural History Unit. You may have heard of us, but if not, you’ve probably watched some of our programmes. Many have been presented or narrated by Sir David Attenborough, like Planet Earth and Blue Planet. Most recently we’ve just finished Nature’s Great Events which our own executive producer, Brian Leith, worked on.

Timothy Allen, BBC Human Planet : It is forbidden to reproduce this image without written permission : Simien Mountains, Cliff farmers and Gelada Ba

BBC Human Planet : Simien Mountains

BBC Wales, based in Cardiff, are probably best known in the UK right now for producing high end popular dramas like Doctor Who. Torchwood, another sci-fi doc that comes out of Cardiff, is also an HD production and Human Planet will be using the same excellent post-production facilities. The factual department is best known for its ground-breaking anthropology documentary series Tribe.

In total we have a core team of 20 phenomenally talented programme makers, who come with a wide range of skills and experiences. Working with us are some of the best wildlife and documentary camera crews and fixers in the world. For the first time we have a dedicated stills photographer, Timothy Allen, who will be posting his own Human Planet blog every week at

BBC Human Planet : Suri Tribe (Surma)  of South West Ethiopia :

BBC Human Planet : Suri stick fight

The series started in full production in the summer of 2008 and we will be shooting over 70 stories in some of the most remote locations on earth in around 40 different countries.

Each episode will focus on one single environment: desert, jungles, arctic, grasslands, rivers, mountains, oceans and urban. Many of the stories are extremely dramatic and will show how we have successfully adapted and survived in the most challenging places on the planet.

As from next week each member of the team will be blogging their stories from the Human Planet. I will keep you updated on where everyone is and give you general news about the series.

Currently, we have teams that have just come back from the remote southern region of Mongolia, filming for the desert episode. On location are the Jungles and Mountains team who are in the Central African Republic and Nepal. I’ll let you work out which team is where!

BBC Human Planet : Arctic Dawn

BBC Human Planet : Arctic Dawn

That’s it for now …enjoy the photos and the sneak preview from the series. See the link if you’d like to read what Timothy Allen’s been up to and don’t forget to explore the new BBC Earth site too. Look out for the regular Friday posting from the Human Planet team, with fascinating stories and tales from both our many locations and from the office.

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