Buds are emerging, sap is rising and birds are on the wing. But just as exciting to wildlife-lovers will be the new five-part David Attenborough natural history series on the BBC.


Wild Isles celebrates the diverse species and landscapes found on the islands of Britain and Ireland, together with the more than 6,000 lesser islets that make up our archipelago.

Renowned conservationist Sir David Attenborough presents the programme, going on location with the film crew, who took three years to shoot this stunning series. The first episode offers an introduction to British and Irish wildlife and the following four focus on the key habitats: woodland, grassland, marine and freshwater. Expect to see red squirrels in the Scottish Highlands, orcas hunting seals, mayfly hatching on a Wiltshire river and much, much more.

What challenges did you face when making Wild Isles?

One of the biggest challenges we all faced was the weather. In the British Isles you can have three different seasons in a single day! When filming abroad you don’t have the choice of returning home, but if it rains on home turf you can. This meant more trips to locations to improve on our footage and we couldn’t resist waiting for sunshine and the perfect light.

Filming macro stories can be a technical challenge. The complicated pollination inside the flower of the lords-and-ladies plant needed a team that could invent solutions. World-class macro cameraman Alastair MacEwen developed special lenses and made tiny windows in the sides of the flowers to see the behaviour and structures inside. Thermal cameras captured glowing images of the flower’s spadix as it heated up to lure in flies. Pinpointing the exact time to film a hot flower was tricky! But it was worth the effort to see the woodland look like it was peppered with tiny candles.

How did you decide on the wildlife stories to feature?

We were spoilt for choice when it came to choosing wildlife stories. At the start of the series, the whole team had a big brainstorm and pitched in ideas for favourite plants, animals and behaviour. We divided the programmes into habitats and for each we needed to find a balance of different types of stories and emotions, from detailed macro to big spectacles. We also looked for new behaviour that hadn’t been filmed before. We like a challenge!

Are there any stories you would have liked to have covered, but couldn’t?

There were some wildlife stories that we didn’t include, but this was mainly because we didn’t have the space for them in the series. The two that I’d like to have filmed are the story of parasitic wasps that inject their eggs into ladybirds and turn them into ‘zombies’, and I have heard reports of huge nurseries of sharks 750m deep in Irish waters. There are so many amazing stories in nature!


What do you want viewers to take away from Wild Isles?

I hope that after watching this series our audience will be wowed and excited by the wildlife and spectacular places in Britain and Ireland, but also that they get a strong sense of how fragmented and fragile they are. I’d like them to feel proud and protective about the wildlife on their doorsteps and have a sense of hope for the future.


Megan ShersbyNaturalist, writer and content creator