We spoke exclusively to TV presenter, and narrator of Planet Earth II Live, Liz Bonnin about her exciting forthcoming role. Find out where her love for our nature and environment came from, why you should come to Planet Earth II Live and her insightful career advice to budding wildlife enthusiasts.
At what age and how did your interest begin in wildlife and the environment?
Ever since I was very young I was lucky to be surrounded by nature. My sister and I used to have lots of adventures where I grew up in the South of France. My parents’ families lived in the Caribbean and we visited them often. I developed a love for the ocean from an early age. You only have to be immersed in nature for it to work its magic. I didn’t realise it at the time but it instilled in me a deep passion and respect for wildlife that influences my life to this day.
We know you’ve created many of your own remarkable animal documentaries, Planet Earth II is well known to be associated with Sir David Attenborough. How does it feel stepping into his shoes?
I don’t think I or any of my peers ever think about stepping into Sir David’s shoes – they are far too big to fill! It’s a very lovely feeling to be part of something so special and to be able to continue to spread the awareness and joy that comes from his world-class programmes. It’s a real privilege to be able to do that.
Copyright David Willis (Snow Leopard); Tom Hughes BBC NHU 2016 (Cities); Into Nature Pictures (Giraffe) and BBC2016 (All other shots)
Why do you think the Planet Earth II franchise has proven to be so successful amongst the numerous other animal documentaries that are aired on TV every year?
I think it stems from decades of expertise, passion and dedication, as well as a healthy dose of ambition to continuously raise the bar. I am constantly amazed at what Sir David and the team conjure up. With Planet Earth II they certainly didn’t disappoint! Just when you think they’ve done it all they manage to bring the natural world even closer to us.
How much of a role do you think programmes like Planet Earth II can play in getting people (especially the younger generations) to understand more about the world we live in?
Their role cannot be overestimated. I personally know so many people who were inspired to follow careers in science and conservation because of these programmes. We know young people are enjoying them more than ever - they are giving popular entertainment programmes a run for their money!
Young people are hungrier than ever for programmes that can reconnect them to the natural world. These programmes offer a better understanding of the role every species on earth plays. There’s something incredibly powerful about discovering the capabilities all these species have evolved to survive. There are so many extraordinary adaptations we could hardly have imagined. It can be very humbling, challenging us to reassess our relationship with the wildlife we share the planet with.
What would you say to people that have enjoyed watching Planet Earth II on the TV – who are thinking about going to see it Live in concert?
The thought of seeing these spectacular images of nature on a gigantic, HD screen while listening to an orchestra play sends tingles down my spine. The series was moving from the comfort of my sofa, but this audiovisual spectacle will be on a different scale. I have no doubt that it will create incredible energy in the arena.
So from a personal and somewhat selfish point of view, I can’t wait to experience that! I'm also really excited to be able to present it to audiences of all ages. It’s going to be very special indeed.
Do you have any advice to someone wanting to pursue a career in science and nature like yourself?
First and foremost do what you love, not what anyone else thinks you should do. Working at something you’re passionate about is far more rewarding than anything else. If you put your heart and soul into what you love doing, you can achieve anything.
Science offers up so many opportunities, some that you may not even know to exist! Don’t put yourself under too much pressure to have it all figured out. It’s also never too late to try something new or choose a different path - No path is a mistake!
Life is just waiting to offer you exciting and fulfilling experiences if you work hard. I combined my passion for science with storytelling, now I have a job that I’m so grateful for every day.
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