I was almost halfway through my bag of popcorn when Prince William – yes, as in the Duke of Cambridge – walked into the BFI London IMAX cinema. I stopped chewing and wondered if he got the same sweet popcorn as I did. And if he did, would he enjoy it.
He was followed by Sir David Attenborough and I was zapped back to a much better reality. We were about to watch the very first episode of Blue Planet II. On IMAX. The world premiere of what will be a seven-part series was awe-inspiring.
Blue Planet II is the sequel to the incredibly popular series which aired in 2001 and became the most watched natural history programme in the UK for 15 years.
Blue Planet II continues to look at the most mysterious of Earth’s wonders – the ocean and all its inhabitants – and will debut in South Africa in February.
Sir David Attenborough returns as narrator and presenter. And the first episode opens with him aboard a yacht, with nothing but beautiful, clear, blue ocean around him. “The ocean, the largest habitat on Earth,” he says.
The Blue Planet II team made more than 125 expeditions across every ocean. They spent over 1 500 days at sea and more than 1 000 hours in submarines. There is even astory about how producer Orla Doherty and her team began to see what looked like water inside their submarine – while already submerged.
But you’ll have to keep your eye on Tonight to find out more about that expedition.
Interestingly, there is a track produced for Blue Planet II by some of the finest minds in music. Thom Yorke of Radiohead was so impressed by the first Blue Planet that he was inspired to write Bloom.
This year, the rock band collaborated with music and film composer Hans Zimmer to record an orchestra-led reimagination of Bloom for a five-minute prequel of Blue Planet II. The series will be scored by Zimmer, Jacob Shea and Dave Fleming for Bleeding Fingers Music.
Zimmer was present at the Blue Planet II world premiere and told us: “I do a lot of movies, but this is truly important.”
Since the collaboration has surfaced, Zimmer has gone on to say: “Bloom appears to have been written ahead of its time as it beautifully reflects the jaw-dropping lifeforms and seascapes viewers are introduced to in Blue Planet II.
“Working with Thom, Jonny and the boys has been a wonderful diversion and it’s given me an interesting peek into their musical world. They’ve been incredible to work with and I hope everyone likes the track.”
Even more interesting for Mzansi is that a number of shots were taken right here in our country. Look out for a feature on the bottlenose dolphin on the east coast of South Africa.
One of the glaring themes of Blue Planet II was summed up by Attenborough when he commented after the screening that the health of our oceans is under attack and Blue Planet II aims to spark a conversation about how to fix this.
I was so fascinated by the ultra-high definition imagery expertly put together in Blue Planet II that I totally forgot to check on whether the prince enjoyed his popcorn, too.
* Blue Planet II will air on BBC Earth (DStv Channel 184) in February 2018