From glowing bioluminescent fungus to 7,000 different camera set-ups for ants, the veteran broadcaster’s miraculous profile of plant life will have you gasping in astonishment so often you’ll be breathless
One of the televisual joys I most remember from childhood was when a programme – often a nature documentary, but sometimes a few seconds on Sesame Street or a Tomorrow’s World demonstration of new technology – would show a flower unfolding with time-lapse photography. It was always sudden, always fleeting, and of course there weren’t even any recording buttons – let alone live pausing and rewinding facilities – that you could quickly press in order to capture and relive the delight. It was ever ephemeral, and I could never get enough.
Until now, with the latest gift from David Attenborough and his endlessly patient and dedicated team of camera operators (to whom a now traditional 10-minute coda is again devoted), The Green Planet (BBC One). The new five-part series presented by the veteran naturalist (though “veteran” hardly seems enough any more – Attenborough has now been making gobsmacking documentaries for two-thirds of the BBC’s entire broadcasting history) is about plants. Those that spring up in their tropical millions in the rainforests, those that endure in snowy wastelands, those who wrest life from the desiccated jaws of death in the desert, those that anchor themselves in rivers and streams – all of them and their cyclical splendours are gathered together for our awed delectation.