Q&A With Mark Brownlow, Executive Producer of Frozen Planet II

PHOTO: Sir David Attenborough (BBC Studios/Alex Board)



Frozen Planet II is on BBC One and iPlayer from Sunday, 11 September at 8pm.

How did Frozen Planet II come about?

I was the Series Producer of Blue Planet II and the big question that followed was... what should we do next? We’d just done Planet Earth II, which covered life across the world's continents, as well as Seven Worlds, One Planet. We also did the big exploration of the underwater world, but what we felt was missing was a follow-up to the other big hit of its day, Frozen Planet. When we air this autumn it will be nearly eleven years since the original series first broadcast. So we felt that now was the time to re-examine, re-explore and celebrate life in our frozen regions.

The other thing is that I loved the original Frozen Planet series. As documentary makers we want to surprise the audience every episode and ring the changes. Whilst there’s a huge opportunity to apply new storytelling techniques and go with new filming technology to the Poles, I also felt that we could broaden out the series to really surprise the audience with the breadth and variety of all the different frozen worlds scattered across our globe. Remarkably, at any given time, a fifth of our planet is covered in snow or blanketed in ice. There is an opportunity to tell a much bigger of the frozen zone of the planet.

And particularly now, because this is the fastest changing region on Earth due to human-caused climate change. We felt that there was a universal film to be made that was contemporary, fresh and had real relevance, linked in to the audience’s greater consciousness around climate change. If we could do a series that celebrates first and foremost the wonder and magic of our frozen worlds, we could also surprise them with the variety and the heroic stories of survival across all of these different frozen areas at a time when they're changing rapidly.

A changing frozen planet is a recurrent theme in the series. Can you tell us a bit more?

In the series we celebrate the frozen planet through wildlife, engaging the audience with animal stories and magical settings that will enthral them. I also wanted to show what changes had taken place in these regions while we were filming the series.

With the help of scientists we installed ruggedized time lapse cameras at the top of Quelccaya in the Andes, and down in Rothera in Antarctica, as well as up in Svalbard in the Arctic. We've positioned time lapse cameras long term to show the change taking place on our watch. We have also commandeered satellites to capture these changes from space, to get the bigger picture.

With this time study I really hope we can land the scale of the change that's taking place, how rapidly this change is taking place, and what the implications are for the localised, highly cold-adapted animals. And, as we learn in episode six, how these changing worlds are also impacting all of us. In essence, it will show why we are more closely connected to these highly remote regions than perhaps we first appreciated.

I hope people will feel that, while this is a wonderful celebration and an opportunity to be transported to these magical worlds, at the same time there is a fierce contemporary relevance to these stories.

How do you maintain a balance between due concern and wide-eyed wonder?

This is something we have to get right. Highly charged films about climate change have their place but I feel that if you make it too weighty and too heavy going, you could alienate your audience.

As with Blue Planet II, I hope the audience will come to Frozen Planet II because they are enthralled by the storytelling and get gripped by the epic dramas, and some comedy too, in each film as we let them enjoy the majesty of the landscapes and the beauty of the animals found there.

At the same time we don't want this to be just pure entertainment. People, I believe, have to know the context. So it's getting the balance between the wonder and joy and entertainment within each episode with enough contemporary context around the changes that are taking place. It's a fine balance but I think we've got it right.

Is there still hope for our frozen planet?

In the series we have the scientists at the end saying, very clearly, that it's not too late. There's still time, we can still protect these frozen regions and the wonderful wildlife within them but we do need to change our ways. Hopefully that’s an empowering message.


Mark Brownlow – Executive Producer, Frozen Planet II

Mark is a multiple Bafta and Emmy award-winning executive producer with over twenty-five years of programming experience across a broad range of wildlife TV documentaries and with a passion for the oceans. As series producer of ‘Blue Planet II’, he employed ground-breaking technology and environmental storytelling to give an entirely new understanding of life beneath the waves. Blue Planet II went on to become the most watched wildlife TV programme of all time and was credited with galvanising action around ocean plastics. As Executive Producer of ‘Frozen Planet II’, he has led the vision for the series and ventured to Antarctica to direct the ‘wave-washing’ killer whales. Other credits include Executive Producer of ‘Eden: Untamed Planet’, ‘Earth’s Tropical Islands’ and Series Producer of 'Hidden Kingdoms'.

Source BBC One

September 7, 2022 4:00am ET by BBC One  


  Shortlink to this content: https://bit.ly/3epIVzo


Latest Press Releases