Planet Earth LIVE – not quite so ‘LIVE’ though

It’s been two weeks since we were able to see the final Planet Earth Live on our television screens. We had Top Gear legend Richard Hammond presenting live from Kenya throughout the programme with updates from Julia Bradbury based in North America. It was billed as a truly epic piece of television, and one that would be talked about for years and years as a pioneer of wildlife television. I found it fascinating. It was truly a beautiful series, but it wasn’t all that innovative.In fact, the only live parts of it were from Hammond and Bradbury during their pieces to camera. The rest? Well, that was all pre-recorded.

The most important aspect of a series like this is the animals. Wild animals in their surroundings, allowing us to see just how stunning animals across the globe really are. Whilst we were able to witness said animals in their natural environment, it wasn’t live, as many people thought it would and should have been. In fact, we saw the animals throughout various clips that had been edited for time purposes and to show only the best parts – some may argue this is good as it cuts out the boring parts, while others, myself included, think that is what makes it so unique. Seeing the animals interacting in such a way, during a live piece of television really would have captivated my imagination and made me want to see more.

Instead, what we got was two presenters, simply interjecting between some stunning videography. To be fair, the presenters were there to stitch the story together, and I understand that. But to have the best part of the programme pre-recorded, and the less important part filmed live seems to really baffle me – the animals should have been the stars, not the presenters.

I’m not stupid, and I do understand that to perhaps capture the important moments in the world of these animals is time-consuming and the camera operators would need to be extremely patient. This goes some way to explaining lack of live action we got to see as viewers. Many viewers took to social networking site Twitter to air their disappointment with Planet Earth Live. A selection of these tweets can be found below:

Lauren Grandidge@LaurenisGrand – ‘Really trying to give #planetearthlive a second go but find it less informative and more patronising. And wish RH would stop with the hands!’

Danny Brooke@DaRkDaN89 – ‘This Planet Earth Live is pointless. It’s not ‘live’ it’s presented ‘live’ the content is all pre-recorded :/’

Jordan Harkness@_jordanharkness – ‘That Planet Earth Live is a farce. 70% of it is in fact, not live.’

Simon@MrFlibble81 – ‘This Planet Earth Live show is not very “live” is it, I’ve seen about 30 seconds of live footage so far, & that’s all been Hammond talking!!’

Twitter is an important tool for media, and this shows why. Producers can really sense audience reaction to their products. In this case, I think it’s important to note that if Planet Earth Live is commissioned for a second series, then it needs to really live up to its tag of being ‘live’; featuring more animals in their environment during live shots, and capturing  some truly stunning aspects on live television. That way, viewers could really enjoy the programme a lot more, and really become immersed in the magic of the beautiful environments featured throughout.

It’s important to flip this argument though; does it really matter that it isn’t live? Surely, if we have access to the stunning footage we do, then why should it matter? Some users on Twitter also tweeted their reactions to the show.

Khalid A Shah@KShah_K – ‘BBC’s #PlanetEarthLive is truly a great show. Don’t know why the presenters try dramatise it, the animals manage that all on their own.’

Hadleigh@hadleigh_x – ‘Despite 95% of the programme not actually being live, Planet Earth Live is rather entertaining’

Dave Peat@davepeat86 – ‘Planet Earth Live is not a bad watch, seriously lacking David Attenborough though! #legend

It’s obvious to see that some viewers feel that the sheer beauty of the animals, surroundings and the unprecedented access to such beautiful animals around the world is all that matters, not whether it is live or not. I just wonder why the BBC pushed for the live aspect so much, if they weren’t truly going to honour what viewers would have wanted.