It feels like an understatement to say that Sir David Attenborough has had a truly remarkable career.
Over the last eight decades, the iconic documentarian has worked on countless films, TV series and books, providing viewers around the world with the opportunity to get up-close and personal with some of the planet’s rarest and most fascinating creatures.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that Attenborough’s work – both new and old – continues to captivate audiences all over the world. His documentaries are famed for their stunning footage and engaging narration – and with subjects ranging from the depths of the ocean to the icy expanses of Antarctica, there’s plenty to enjoy.
With this in mind, we’ve put together this list of 10 brilliant David Attenborough documentaries to get you started.
So, whether you’re looking for escapism, want to learn more about the world around you or simply find Attenborough’s voice soothing, keep reading to find out what to watch.
The Year The Earth Changed
In his first film for Apple TV+, Attenborough explores how the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns not only impacted human life, but the lives and behaviours of the creatures and organisms around us.
Featuring exclusive footage from around the world, the film provides both a positive look at how the pandemic gave nature time to heal and transform, and insight into how even the smallest of changes to human behaviour can make a big difference.
A Life On Our Planet
By giving viewers a closer look at Attenborough’s travels throughout his 60-year career, A Life On Our Planet is as much about the changing natural world as it is about the man who documented it all.
The film – which first aired on Netflix last year – sees Attenborough reflect on the defining moments of his career as a naturalist and the effect that climate change is having on the areas he has visited throughout his career. Described by Attenborough as his “witness statement,” A Life On Our Planet isn’t one to miss.
Seven Worlds, One Planet
If you didn’t catch Attenborough’s Seven Worlds, One Planet series when it aired at the end of 2019, now’s the time to give it a watch.
With each episode in the series dedicated to a different continent of the world, there’s plenty to learn. From the fireflies that populate the forests of Mississippi to the haunting song of the Sumatran rhino nestled in the tropical forests of the Himalayas, the careful detail of each episode in the Seven Worlds, One Planet series makes it a real treat to watch.
Known for being one of Attenborough’s most iconic projects, Planet Earth was the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC when it was released in 2006, and the first to be filmed in high definition.
Filmed over four years across 64 different countries, each of the series’ 11 episodes features a different habitat on Earth, from the deep caves of Mexico to the unforgiving temperatures of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.
Planet Earth II
Just when the world thought Planet Earth couldn’t be beaten, the BBC went and produced Planet Earth II.
The first-ever series produced by the programmer in ultra-high definition, each episode of Planet Earth II sees Attenborough look at a different habitat and the animals fighting to survive there, from the peregrine falcons which hunt among New York City’s skyscrapers to the ninja frogs fighting off wasps in flooded forests.
Extinction: The Facts
Extinction: The Facts may deal with a particularly heavy subject matter, but that doesn’t make it any less worth watching.
With a million species now at risk of extinction, this one-off film – which aired on the BBC earlier this year – sees Attenborough explore the impact such a massive loss of biodiversity could have on our lives, including how it could put us at greater risk of pandemic diseases in the future.
Since its release in 2019, Our Planet has attracted a cult following, won an Emmy and been the subject of critical acclaim – and it’s not hard to see why.
With its incredible cinematography and fascinating narration, Our Planet gives viewers the opportunity to get up-close with creatures, habitats and systems from all over the world. Punctuated with reminders about what’s at stake due to climate change, Our Planet is a seriously eye-opening watch.
Unlike some of his other documentaries, Frozen Planet sees Attenborough focus his attention on a particular area of the planet – the Arctic and Antarctic.
Throughout the seven-part series, Attenborough and his team explore how the polar regions transform throughout the year, and how the animals who live there are equipped to survive the harshest of habitats.
Blue Planet II
If you’re itching to learn something new this Christmas, look no further than Blue Planet II, Attenborough’s deep dive into the mysterious depths of the world’s oceans.
Featuring rare footage of some of the ocean’s most unique creatures, Blue Planet II takes viewers on a journey from the bustling atmosphere of the world’s coral reefs to the vast ocean deserts where only the fittest survive. If you plan on watching any Attenborough documentaries this Christmas, make sure this one’s on your list.
Life On Earth
Although the natural world may have changed since Attenborough made Life On Earth back in 1979, his infectious enthusiasm for the incredible creatures which live on our planet remains unchanged.
Comprising 13 episodes and recognised as one of Attenborough’s most iconic series, the series tracks the origins of life on earth, from the first primitive cells to the plants and animals that came to populate all corners of the world.
As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.