This scene from Human Planet was faked, admits the BBC

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Susan Devaney
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The BBC has admitted that a scene involving a tribe in Papa New Guinea was faked for the Human Planet series. 

When Human Planet first aired on the BBC in 2011, it got everyone talking. From highlighting the dangers of compressor diving in the Philippines, to sharing scenes of bottlenose dolphins assisting fishermen in Brazil, the eight-part series not only took us to remote parts of the world, but shared incredible human stories.

Now, though, we’ve learned that the series – which was filmed over three years – isn’t as authentic as we first thought. 

Fans of the show may remember one scene in particular, which showed the remote Korowai tribe from Papua New Guinea moving into a home built 100ft up a tree in a forest. 

As it turns out, the treehouse was built for “the benefit of overseas programme makers”. 

The discovery was made by Will Millard during the recent filming of the upcoming BBC series, My Year With The Tribe. In the new programme, he tells viewers: “[The Human Planet treehouse] is not where they live, this is total artifice”.

Responding to this, a BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC has been alerted to a breach of editorial standards in an episode of Human Planet from 2011 which concerns the Korowai people of Papua New Guinea.

“During the making of BBC Two’s upcoming documentary series My Year With The Tribe, a member of the tribe discusses how they have built very high treehouses for the benefit of overseas programme makers.

“The BBC has reviewed a sequence in Human Planet depicting this and found that the portrayal of the tribe moving into the treehouse as a real home is not accurate.”

People have since taken to Twitter to share their disappointment over the staged scene. 

“That’s incredibly disappointing,” one user posted. 

Of course, it’s not the first time the series, which is narrated by John Hurt, has come under fire for fakery. 

In 2011, the broadcaster admitted to filming shots of a tarantula spider in a studio for an episode about people living in the Venezuela jungle. And, in the episode based in Mongolia, two camel herders are seen trying to kill a ‘wild’ wolf in the Gobi Desert. However, the BBC admitted to the wolf being semi-domesticated and the shot was actually just the wolf running to its handler.

The BBC said: “Since this programme was broadcast in 2011 we have strengthened our mandatory training for all staff in editorial guidelines, standards and values.”

Images: Unsplash 


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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.