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Human Planet – Call for Assistance

Today’s guest blogger contacted AAA in hopes that members would be able to assist in the next series of the television show Human Planet. Please contact Sally directly if you can be of assistance. Thank you Sally for thinking of us.

My name is Sally and I develop programme ideas for BBC Wales and BBC Bristol.  I have recently been tasked with coming up with the next series of Human Planet, a landmark BBC1 / Discovery series which documented human life (and survival) in some of the most remote and harshest habitats on earth.  The series set out to celebrate – marvel at, even – humans at their most adaptable and resourceful and used blue chip, natural history filming techniques to document remarkable stories of communities interacting directly with nature (animals, plants, extreme environments, the elements etc.) to survive and function as human beings.  The series has won a number of awards all over the globe – and people have commented upon the fact, it helped put anthropology back on the map (but in a user-friendly way, I suppose).

I have now been tasked with developed a second series of Human Planet – but this time, they want us to find stories which truly are extreme / at the very edge of existence.  Which show man trying to eek out a tough and challenging existence in extreme and exotic locations worldwide.  To document dramatic daily events and routines which to indigenous peoples are simply a hard fact of life, but which for us, are truly remarkable feats of human survival and endurance.  To show man’s relationship with his environment / nature in epic detail.  Like the dangerous 60 miles school run along the Zanksgar river for the Rivers programme; or the young family living 60ft in the air in our Jungles programme, not forgetting the whale hunters in our Oceans programme.

We want to take the seemingly ordinary things we do – and show the very many extraordinary and extreme ways in which people across the world, cope with these day to day but extreme challenges, all of which are universal (finding food, shelter, love, success etc.), but for many, can mean the difference between life and death. 

So if I could only ask one question of you, it would be this:

Based on your research work thus far, can you think of one people who, you feel, have been under-represented / ignored on television; whose extraordinary lives and extreme efforts to survive / live / thrive in an epic environment would find a natural home on the next series of Human Planet?  If yes, could you come up with one example that would fit one of the following categories below …

1.  How far will people go for food (and water)?
This is probably the most basic question of all; and in answering it we’d look at harvests, hunts, agriculture, territory, diet – the seasons, the weather, the (changing) environment.

2.  How far will people go for shelter?
Under this heading we’d look at extreme environments; the act of building in all its forms; settlement vs nomadism, human migration, defence and protection – safety.

3.  How far will people go for love?
Without breeding, a species would die out. But to humans, surely it means more? We would look at courting, marriage, children, family, community. Rituals, rivalry, expectations. The need to belong.

4.  How far will people go to succeed?
Once you’re beyond finding enough food and shelter – what can you add to your life? What constitutes success? We’d look at wealth, education, class / social hierarchy, trade, ambition, status. What does it mean to different people(s)?

5.  How far will people go to escape?
We value the idea of escaping the day-to-day – slipping the boundaries of our ‘ordinary’ life. What does it mean for different people around the world? What pastimes, intoxicants, sports, entertainments, or religions take people out of themselves?

6.  How far will people go to endure?
We value our heritage; both what we have inherited as a race or culture, and what we’ll leave behind as individuals. Do we hang onto traditions for dear life? Or is the future best served by ditching them? Do we adapt to the encroaching world or withdraw? What legacy will we leave behind – as individuals or as part of a group? Does it matter as much to an Armenian as to an Aboriginal Australian?

Please contact Sally at Sally.Lisk-Lewis@bbc.co.uk

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