Blue Planet II: Coral Reefs

Being elevated to the status of national treasure I am sure has many benefits. You can avoid taxes like there’s no tomorrow and basically get away with murder. David Attenborough has reached this pinnacle.  If he was exposed as the source of most greenhouse gasses we’d all shrug and put on a documentary; probably, Blue Planet Two, the latest Attenborough documentary and a show that simply can’t fail. It is so big and so Attenborough that the nation would watch, regardless of the quality of what’s put in front of them.

Thankfully the series still delivers. The BBC knows how to make a visually stunning and emotionally engaging nature documentary. We follow a clown fish as he tries to impress a female by finding and moving a suitable place for her to lay her eggs. This small intimate story is blown up to a cinematic scale and you can’t help but empathise with this fish as if it’s a friend. Then the story of thousands of groupers, who literally take on sharks in an attempt to procreate, is played out in epic proportions across the small screen.

However, this episode felt slightly flatter than the previous two. Yes, it was visually stunning and told stories that is was impossible to not engage with. But Episode Two gave real wonder as you felt like you were the first person to ever see some of the wonders of the deep sea. And Episode One ended with a sucker punch – a walrus and baby searching for an ever-melting home. Coral reefs, sadly, felt like trodden ground. But perhaps the show is a casualty of its own success. We expect, literally, the best the planet can offer and when it isn’t as new or as exciting as what has come before we kick up a fuss like a spoilt child.


Oliver Bramley

(Image: Marie Claire)