BBC Earth's Dynasties. (Photo supplied: BBC Earth)
BBC Earth's Dynasties. (Photo supplied: BBC Earth)


Five extraordinary animals, each in a heroic struggle against rivals and against the forces of nature, fighting for their own survival and for the future of their dynasties.


Of course, as basically a given, the arrestingly beautiful, masterful new animal series with Sir David Attenborough as narrator starting on Sunday on BBC Earth (DStv 184) at 16:00 will get a score of 5 out of 5 – but here is why you should watch although, it will make you cry: The animals featured in this painfully-beautiful new series needs you to experience their personal struggle for their place in the world.

The sumptuous, poignant and meticulously filmed 5-episode Dynasties is yet another wildlife filmmaking television piece of art from the BBC Studios Natural History unit, this time following 5 animals – a chimpanzee, penguin, lion, painted wolf and a tiger as they struggle to not just defend their place in the world but in what has become man's world.

With a focus on families, an hour episode flies by with an immersive filmatic experience and totally engrossing narrative into the animals' epic, daily struggle for survival, captured over hundreds of days and distilled into awe-inspiring stories of an hour each guaranteed to leave you as viewer emotional and moved.

With unexpected – often honestly shocking moments – narrated by Sir David's trusted, tempered and understated tone, beautiful and often heartbreaking moments from nature flashes by, detonating emotionally compelling bombs you can't bear to watch, and yet simply can't look away from.

Sunday's first episode covering a troop of chimpanzees in south-east Senegal in West Africa quickly gives the viewer a very clear indication of what's in store in Dynasties: Without the need to antropomorphise, the viewer – consciously or unconsciously – gets a guttural and visceral assault on the senses. You understand what you see as a relatable struggle that humans can identify with.

More than just struggling to live and to stay alive, these animals' survival are intimately and intricately linked to others like them, but also to the (rapidly shrinking) physical space they inhabit and their place in the "hierarchy" within that space.

Unscripted, undiluted animal-world Greek tragedy plays out in Dynasties and just as unpredictable as nature is, so unpredictable is how episodes of the series unfolds. 

As the TV pendulum in Dynasties swings and alternates between heartbreaking and happy moments, the viewer gets a true sense of the never-ending power struggle these iconic animals are tied to every single waking moment of their lives, captured over the course of four years.

Just like the animals, while watching Dynasties, viewers don't dare let their guard down.

It's agonising. It's haunting. It's painfully beautiful. Which is precisely why Dynasties is absolutely must-watch television.


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