David Attenborough TV shows - Best documentaries and how to watch them for free

Today is David Attenborough’s birthday, and what better way to celebrate than watching one of his stellar documentaries on the world around us - here’s how to watch them

On May 8, the global icon that is David Attenborough turned 97. Attenborough has spent most of his life workng on documentaries loved by people around the world, from stunning landscapes to evolving ecosystems the presenter has brought environmental education to millions.

He first began his career in the 50’s and has since worked on almost 150 documentaries, credited as writer, presenter, narrator or producer. He has also made regular appearances on projects by other film-makers.

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He has worked primarily with the BBC to bring educational programmes in hopes of encouraging people to take better care of the environment, and fight climate change. As the years have passed, Attenborough has also worked with Netflix on shows like Our Planet and Life in Colour which continue to highlight the smallest but mightiest ecosystems as well as the most ferocious mammals in the world. Most of his work however, is free to watch and access at any time.

In his latest project, Sir David Attenborough is celebrating the wonders of the British Isles in his first ever series on his home turf. The series will celebrate the surprising and dramatic habitats that exist right on our doorstep.

Sir David Attention announced the series last year saying: “In my long lifetime, I have travelled to almost every corner of our planet. I can assure you that in the British Isles, as well as astonishing scenery there are extraordinary animal dramas and wildlife spectacles to match anything I have seen on my global travels”.

Some of his most iconic documentaries include Planet Earth and Blue Planet which are both expected to have a third series coming out soon. Both of these projects have made an historical impact with their groundbreaking use of photography technology as well as the exploration of ecosystems on land and under the sea.

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So, how can you watch some of his best documentaries for free? Here’s everything you need to know.

Full list of David Attenborough documentaries

1950’s

  • Coelacanth (1951)
  • Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? (1952)
  • Song Hunter (1953)
  • The Pattern of Animals (1953)
  • Zoo Quest (1954)
  • Zoo Quest to Guiana (1955)
  • Zoo Quest for a Dragon (1956)
  • Quest for the Paradise Birds (1957)
  • Zoo Quest in Paraguay (1959)

1960s

  • The People of Paradise (1960)
  • Elsa the Tamworth Lioness (1960)
  • Travellers’ Tales (1960)
  • Zoo Quest to Madagascar (1961)
  • Japan (1961)
  • Destruction of the Indian (1962)
  • Attenborough and Animals (1963)
  • Quest Under Capricorn (1963)
  • Zambezi (1965)
  • Life - East Africa (1967)
  • The World About Us (1967)
  • The Miracle of Bali (1969)
“The natural world is the greatest source of excitement. The greatest source of visual beauty. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”“The natural world is the greatest source of excitement. The greatest source of visual beauty. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”
“The natural world is the greatest source of excitement. The greatest source of visual beauty. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”

1970s

  • A Blank on the Map (1971)
  • Eastwards with Attenborough (1973)
  • The Life Game (1973)
  • Natural Break (1973)
  • Flying Prince of Wildlife (1973)
  • Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (1973)
  • The Explorers (1973)
  • Fabulous Animals (1975)
  • The Tribal Eye (1975)
  • The Discoverers (1976)
  • Wildlife on One (1977)
  • Life on Earth (1979)

1980s

  • The Spirit of Asia (1980)
  • The Ark in South Kensington (1981)
  • The Living Planet (1984)
  • The Million Pound Bird Book (1985)
  • World Safari (1986)
  • The First Eden (1987)
  • Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives (1989)

1990s

  • The Trials of Life (1990)
  • QED “Gallop to Freedom” (1993)
  • Heart of a Nomad (1994)
  • The Private Life of Plants (1995)
  • Attenborough in Paradise (1996)
  • Winners and Losers (1996)
  • IMAX - “Survival Island” (1996)
  • The Life of Birds (1998)
  • The Origin of Species: An illustrated Guide (1998)
  • Sharks - The Truth (1999)
  • They Said It Couldn’t Be Done (1999)
David Attenborough with gorillas on Life on EarthDavid Attenborough with gorillas on Life on Earth
David Attenborough with gorillas on Life on Earth | BBC

2000s

  • State of the Planet (2000)
  • The Lost Gods of Easter Island (2000)
  • Living with Dinosaurs (2000)
  • The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth (2000)
  • The Song of the Earth (2000)
  • Satoyama: Japan’s Secret Garden (2000)
  • The Blue Planet (2001)
  • The Life of Mammals (2002)
  • Great Natural Wonders of the World (2002)
  • Life on Air (2002)
  • Animal Crime Scene (2005)
  • Life in the Undergrowth (2005)
  • Planet Earth (2006)
  • Planet Earth - The Diaries (2006)
  • The Truth about Climate Change (2006)
  • Gorillas Revisited (2006)
  • Climate Change: Britain Under Threat (2007)
  • Tom Harrisson: The Barefoot Anthropologist (2007)
  • Attenborough Explores…Our Fragile World (2007)
  • Life in Cold Blood (2008)
  • Humpbacks: From Fire to Ice (2008)
  • Tiger: Spy in the Jungle (2008)
  • Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life (2009)
  • Nature’s Great Events (2009)
  • Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor: The Link (2009)
  • Life (2009)

2010s

  • David Attenborough’s First Life (2010)
  • The Death of the Oceans? (2010)
  • Flying Monsters 3D (2010)
  • Madagascar (2011)
  • Attenborough and the Giant Egg (2011)
  • Desert Seas (2011)
  • Frozen Planet (2011)
  • The Penguin King (2012)
  • Secrets of Wild India (2012)
  • Superfish: Bluefin Tuna (2012)
  • Kingdom of Plants 3D (2012)
  • Attenborough’s Ark: A Natural World Special (2012)
  • Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild (2012)
  • Hummingbirds: Jewelled Messengers (2012)
  • Galapagos 3D (2013)
  • David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities (2013)
  • Africa (2013)
  • Micro Monsters 3D (2013)
  • Wild Cameramen at Work (2013)
  • Attenborough’s Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates (2013)
  • Sir David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities (2014)
  • David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive (2014)
  • Life Story (2014)
  • David Attenborough’s Conquest of the Skies 3D (2015)
  • Wild City (2015)
  • The Hunt (2015)
  • Great Barrier Reef with Sir David Attenborough (2015)
  • Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur (2016)
  • Attenborough’s Life That Glows (2016)
  • Attenborough’s Passion Projects (2016)
  • Planet Earth II (2016)
  • Zoo Quest in Colour (2016)
  • Planets Behaving Badly (2017)
  • David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities (2017)
  • Blue Planet II (2017)
  • Attenborough and the Giant Elephant (2017)
  • The Queen’s Green Planet (2018)
  • Attenborough and the Sea Dragon (2018)
  • Dynasties (2018)
  • Wild Karnataka (2019)
  • Our Planet (2019)
  • Climate Change - The Facts (2019)
  • Seven Worlds, One Planet (2019)

2020s

  • Extinction: The Facts (2020)
  • David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020)
  • A Perfect Planet (2021)
  • Life in Colour (2021)
  • Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet (2021)
  • The Mating Game (2021)
  • The Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet (2021)
  • Attenborough’s Wonder of Song (2022)
  • The Green Planet (2022)
  • Dinosaurs: The Final Day with David Attenborough (2022)
  • Dynasties II (2022)
  • Prehistoric Planet (2022)
  • Frozen Planet II (2022)
  • Wild Isles (2022)

How to watch some of his best documentaries for free

How to watch Blue Planet

Blue Planet first aired in 2001, and is still just as iconic today. Its groundbreaking photography was able to capture the strangest deep sea creatures and show viewers the hunting skills used by Whales, Dolphins, Sharks, Tuna and more.

Blue PlanetBlue Planet
Blue Planet | BBC

Blue Planet as well as its sequel series is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

How to watch Seven Worlds, One Planet

Seven Worlds One Planet sees Attenborough explore the ecosystems of each continent in the world, from Polar bears in North America to sea life in Antarctica. The documentary was shown on BBC One, and all eight episodes are available for free to watch on demand on BBC iPlayer.

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How to watch Planet Earth II

Following the massive success of Planet Earth, Planet Earth II launched in 2016. It included several instantly iconic moments, such as baby iguanas chased by hungry snakes, a fox diving headfirst into the snow, and bears dropping it like it’s hot in the forest.

All six episodes are available to watch for free on BBC iPlayer.

How to watch Wild Isles

Wild Isles is Attenborough’s first time exploring the environment closer to home, exploring everything the British Isles have to offer from the Orca’s of Shetland to Britain and Ireland’s grasslands.

The series premiered on Sunday March 12 at 7pm. The series airs on BBC One, and is available to watch on demand on BBC iPlayer.

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