Science and natural history genres at the forefront for PBS during BBC Showcase

Image credit: NASA

The BBC Showcase

The Showcase is an annual gathering where the British public broadcaster rolls out their best programming for approximately 700 TV buyers — like Bill, who’s the television VP at North Texas public media station KERA — from around the world.

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As the 2019 edition of the BBC Showcase began to wind down this past week, it was clear that, courtesy of PBS and the BBC, American audiences will be treated to some of the best of the best when it comes to drama offerings in 2019-20. With new offerings ranging from Les Miserables to Press to Sanditon, quality drama continues to be on the rise if you take into account the new seasons of Call the Midwife, Poldark, The Durrells in Corfu, Grantchester, Endeavour and Victoria.

Not to be outdone by the number of quality drama series coming to PBS stations, the genres of science and natural history were quite well represented with numerous offerings that will find their way to PBS signature series such as Nova, Nature and American Experience. Here are a few examples of what is headed our way.

Earth From Space

  • This four-part series uses cutting-edge technology to tell the story of life on Earth from a brand new perspective. With everything from the Northern Lights to animal migration, shifting seasons to turning tides, cameras in space will zoom in on herds of elephants searching for water, discover previously unknown colonies of penguins as satellites capture disappearing forests and ever-changing city sprawl over decades. With the Earth’s surface changing faster than ever before, can the view from space inspire us to look after our unique and fragile home?

Wild Metropolis

  • Exploring our cities through the eyes of the animals who live in them, meet the extraordinary wildlife living in the fastest changing habitat on the planet — our cities. Watch as humpback whales breach in New York’s Hudson River and witness African penguins who find sanctuary and safe places to meet in Cape Town. Animals have adjusted surprisingly well to city living by applying their natural-born skills to their new found urban environments. Wild Metropolis will let you discover the wilder side of a world you only think you know.

First Year on Earth

  • This three-part series follows the dramatic lives of six baby animals as they grow up and experience their first 12 months in the wild. A baby mountain gorilla navigates the labyrinth of the forest, a young elephant learns how to tell friend from foe and a litter of Arctic fox cubs race to become self-sufficient before the winter closes in. With intimate access, the series will cast a new light on the worlds of animal infants and how human actions are shaping the challenges they face.


  • Focusing on three iconic islands — Madagascar, Borneo, Hawaii — Islands looks at the unique wildlife and human castaways living in paradise. Four in five of all global extinctions have happened on islands. At the front line of the fight to save our planet’s ecology, meet the scientists struggling to protect these havens that are increasingly more relevant than ever.

Earth’s Great Rivers

  • Billed as the ultimate river voyage down three of the world’s most epic rivers — the Amazon, the Nile and the Mississippi — Earth’s Great Rivers uses the latest technology to reveal the astonishing wildlife and breathtaking landscapes of previously unfilmed locations as they bring all three rivers to the life.

Big Cats

  • Billed as the ultimate celebration of the entire cat family, Big Cats draws out the planet’s top predator to reveal how they still have the power to surprise.

Earth’s Sacred Wonders

  • Explore what people do for their faith in some of the most stunning sites of worship around the globe. From Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world, to one of the oldest synagogues on Earth; form the Sikh’s sacred Golden Temple in Amritsar to the Shinto shrines at the Nachi waterfall in Japan, the series looks at the astonishing deeds of devotion and physical challenges still performed today. Earth’s Sacred Wonders will uncover remarkable acts of faith performed at some of the planet’s most iconic landmarks.

The Planets

  • Visually stunning, The Planets will bring to life the most memorable events in the history of the solar system. By transporting the viewer to the surface of each individual dynamic world, The Planets reveals how the latest science allows us to unlock their past lives. Whether it’s piecing together clues of magnificent lost waterfalls on Mars, the distant fate of Saturn as one of its moons awakens to form a beautiful water world, The Planets will tell the thrilling story of all eight planets.

8 Days

  • 8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds. The entire duration of the Apollo 11 moon mission. Using cutting-edge special effects and previously classified cockpit audio, 8 Days marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by recreating the crucial scenes that were never filmed — the first site of the moon, the dramatic touchdown and the journey home. Combining archival footage with newly shot film, Apollo 11 was one of the most important  space missions ever flown. And, it’s an untold story.

PBS, in partnership with the BBC, will, once again, be the American home for the best of the best in drama, science, natural history and documentaries, with a healthy dose of comedies thrown in for good measure.

In: Odds & Sods