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Founded in July 1957, the BBC Natural History Unit is based in Bristol. 60 years and 12 heads later, the NHU is the world's largest and best-known wildlife film-making organisation. It has a reputation for producing large scale blockbusters such as Life on Earth, Planet Earth and Blue Planet as well as popular series such a Big Cat Diary and Springwatch. Here we feature some of the key presenters, cameramen and production teams and show some of the complex process and technology behind creating the NHU's programming, often in difficult circumstances and extreme environments.
David Attenborough with mountain gorillas, on location during filming for  BBC  'Life on Earth' series in Rwanda 1979  -  John Sparks
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John Sparks / David Attenborough with mountain gorillas, on location during filming for BBC 'Life on Earth' series in Rwanda 1979
Jonathon Scott and Simon King presenters of Big Cat Diary Masai Mara NR Kenya 2000  -  Angela Scott
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Angela Scott / Jonathon Scott and Simon King presenters of Big Cat Diary Masai Mara NR Kenya 2000
Sir David Attenborough recording voice over for BBC series, The Hunt. September 2015.  -  Huw Cordey
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Huw Cordey / Sir David Attenborough recording voice over for BBC series, The Hunt. September 2015.
Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine with Brown lemurs on Lemur Island in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, eastern Madagascar, while filming for BBC TV series 'Last Chance to See', November 2008  -  Mark Carwardine
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Mark Carwardine / Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine with Brown lemurs on Lemur Island in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, eastern Madagascar, while filming for BBC TV series 'Last Chance to See', November 2008
Presenter Jonathan Scott with African lion (Panthera leo) from Marsh Pride, Masai Mara NR, Kenya 1999 BBC Big Cat Diary series  -  Angela Scott
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Angela Scott / Presenter Jonathan Scott with African lion (Panthera leo) from Marsh Pride, Masai Mara NR, Kenya 1999 BBC Big Cat Diary series
Valmik Thapar (left) and Fateh Singh on location in Ranthambhore NP, Rajasthan, India. Filming for BBC television programme Land of the Tiger - Sacred Waters, December 1996  -  Toby Sinclair
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Toby Sinclair / Valmik Thapar (left) and Fateh Singh on location in Ranthambhore NP, Rajasthan, India. Filming for BBC television programme Land of the Tiger - Sacred Waters, December 1996
Filming on the Antarctic sea-ice at the edge of a small hole. A cameraman gets a shock when a Killer whale (Orcinus orca) mother and calf explode out of the water in front of his face.  Taken on locat...  -  Chadden Hunter
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Chadden Hunter / Filming on the Antarctic sea-ice at the edge of a small hole. A cameraman gets a shock when a Killer whale (Orcinus orca) mother and calf explode out of the water in front of his face. Taken on locat...
Huw Cordey, producer of Jungles episode, BBC Planet Earth series, up in canopy of rainforest tree, Costa Rica, 2005.  -  Huw Cordey
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Huw Cordey / Huw Cordey, producer of Jungles episode, BBC Planet Earth series, up in canopy of rainforest tree, Costa Rica, 2005.
Sync crew filming Sir David Attenborough on South Georgia, 1992, for BBC tv series Life in the Freezer  -  Ben Osborne
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Ben Osborne / Sync crew filming Sir David Attenborough on South Georgia, 1992, for BBC tv series Life in the Freezer
^Seatrek^ programme presenters Martha Holmes and Mike de Gruy feeding Butterflyfish off Hawaii, 1991 - BBC NHU television series  -  Georgette Douwma
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Georgette Douwma / ^Seatrek^ programme presenters Martha Holmes and Mike de Gruy feeding Butterflyfish off Hawaii, 1991 - BBC NHU television series
Charlotte Uhlenbroek with Orang utan {Pongo pygmaeus} Borneo Indonesia, on location for BBC tv series COUSINS, 2000  -  Bernard Walton
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Bernard Walton / Charlotte Uhlenbroek with Orang utan {Pongo pygmaeus} Borneo Indonesia, on location for BBC tv series COUSINS, 2000
Entrance to BBC Broadcasting House, Whiteladies Road, Bristol, UK, 2007  -  Warwick Sloss
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Warwick Sloss / Entrance to BBC Broadcasting House, Whiteladies Road, Bristol, UK, 2007
David Attenborough, presenter of BBC TV series 'The Life of Birds', with golden eagle, 1998  -  Rob Cousins
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Rob Cousins / David Attenborough, presenter of BBC TV series 'The Life of Birds', with golden eagle, 1998
Presenter Julian Pettifer on Mauna Kea, presenting BBC programme 'Global Sunrise', 1996  -  PETER CRAWFORD
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PETER CRAWFORD / Presenter Julian Pettifer on Mauna Kea, presenting BBC programme 'Global Sunrise', 1996
Dr. Jack Cohen, evolutionary biologist (Natural History of an Alien)  -  BBC
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BBC / Dr. Jack Cohen, evolutionary biologist (Natural History of an Alien)
Peter Bassett, producer, with Takahe (Phorphyrio hochstetteri) filming Life of Birds BBC series, New Zealand, 1997  -  Peter Bassett
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Peter Bassett / Peter Bassett, producer, with Takahe (Phorphyrio hochstetteri) filming Life of Birds BBC series, New Zealand, 1997
David Attenborough writing script with researcher Karen Bass and producer Andrew Neal, on location for BBC televsion programme ^The First Eden^, Spain, 1986  -  Diana Richards Cronk
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Diana Richards Cronk / David Attenborough writing script with researcher Karen Bass and producer Andrew Neal, on location for BBC televsion programme ^The First Eden^, Spain, 1986
Camerman Doug Allan at frozen water surface of drilled ice hole, BBC film crew, McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea, Antarctica, November 2008  -  Neil Lucas
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Neil Lucas / Camerman Doug Allan at frozen water surface of drilled ice hole, BBC film crew, McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea, Antarctica, November 2008
Elephant using foot to explore dungcam - remotely controlled video camera used for filming BBC television programme 'Elephants - Spy in the Herd' 2003  -  John Downer Productions
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John Downer Productions / Elephant using foot to explore dungcam - remotely controlled video camera used for filming BBC television programme 'Elephants - Spy in the Herd' 2003
Camerman Martyn Colbeck and elephant calf Ebony, daughter of Echo, on location for BBC programme Echo the Elephant, 1995  -  Cynthia Moss
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Cynthia Moss / Camerman Martyn Colbeck and elephant calf Ebony, daughter of Echo, on location for BBC programme Echo the Elephant, 1995
Cameraman, Didier Noirot, filming the formation of 'brinicles' (brine icicles or ice stalactites) under the ice, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, during the filming of 'Winter' for the BBC Frozen Planet ser...  -  Chadden Hunter
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Chadden Hunter / Cameraman, Didier Noirot, filming the formation of 'brinicles' (brine icicles or ice stalactites) under the ice, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, during the filming of 'Winter' for the BBC Frozen Planet ser...
Cameraman Doug Allan prepares to film swimming polar bear from boat. On location for BBC Polar Bear programme 1996  -  Martha Holmes
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Martha Holmes / Cameraman Doug Allan prepares to film swimming polar bear from boat. On location for BBC Polar Bear programme 1996
Sir David Attenborough by Blue whale skeleton on location  for 'Life of Mammals', 2002 Santa Barbara, USA  -  Neil Lucas
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Neil Lucas / Sir David Attenborough by Blue whale skeleton on location for 'Life of Mammals', 2002 Santa Barbara, USA
Simon King, cameraman and television presenter with Barn Owl. 1996  -  BBC
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BBC / Simon King, cameraman and television presenter with Barn Owl. 1996
(L-R) Camermen Gavin Thurston, Doug Allan, Mike Richards and Hugh Miles, with David Attenborough on BBC Natural History Night 1996  -  TED GIFFORDS
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TED GIFFORDS / (L-R) Camermen Gavin Thurston, Doug Allan, Mike Richards and Hugh Miles, with David Attenborough on BBC Natural History Night 1996
Stephen Fry and Mark Carwadine after a mud bath in Borneo, filming for BBC TV series 'Last Chance to See', March 2009  -  Mark Carwardine
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Mark Carwardine / Stephen Fry and Mark Carwadine after a mud bath in Borneo, filming for BBC TV series 'Last Chance to See', March 2009
Simon King on location filming for BBC series ^Big Cat Diary^. Kenya, 1996  -  Alastair Fothergill
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Alastair Fothergill / Simon King on location filming for BBC series ^Big Cat Diary^. Kenya, 1996
Neil Lucas, Richard Kirby and Sir David Attenborough on location filming for BBC television series ^Private Life of Plants^, Australia, early 1990s  -  Neil Lucas
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Neil Lucas / Neil Lucas, Richard Kirby and Sir David Attenborough on location filming for BBC television series ^Private Life of Plants^, Australia, early 1990s
Person standing infront of long icicles, outside volcanic ice cave, Mount Erebus, Antarctica. Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, 2009  -  Chadden Hunter
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Chadden Hunter / Person standing infront of long icicles, outside volcanic ice cave, Mount Erebus, Antarctica. Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, 2009
Tony Soper portrait, TV Presenter  -  Peter Scoones
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Peter Scoones / Tony Soper portrait, TV Presenter
Cameraman Wade Fairley.filming colony of Emperor penguins in snow blizzard, Antarctica, for BBC Planet Earth series 2005  -  Fred Olivier
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Fred Olivier / Cameraman Wade Fairley.filming colony of Emperor penguins in snow blizzard, Antarctica, for BBC Planet Earth series 2005
Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) adults and chicks in colony beside ice cliff, Cape Crozier, Antarctica, November 2009. Taken on location for BBC series, Frozen Planet, Spring.  -  Jeff Wilson
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Jeff Wilson / Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) adults and chicks in colony beside ice cliff, Cape Crozier, Antarctica, November 2009. Taken on location for BBC series, Frozen Planet, Spring.
Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) on ice floe, Antarctica.  Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, January 2009  -  Kathryn Jeffs
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Kathryn Jeffs / Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) on ice floe, Antarctica. Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, January 2009
King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) crossing water to reach breeding site, South Georgia. Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, 2008  -  Chadden Hunter
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Chadden Hunter / King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) crossing water to reach breeding site, South Georgia. Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, 2008
Cameraman Peter Scoones recording Southern elephant seal on location in Stromness Bay, South Georgia, filming for BBC television series ^Life in the Freezer^, February 1993  -  Martha Holmes
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Martha Holmes / Cameraman Peter Scoones recording Southern elephant seal on location in Stromness Bay, South Georgia, filming for BBC television series ^Life in the Freezer^, February 1993
Icebergs off the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, February 2009, Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series  -  Kathryn Jeffs
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Kathryn Jeffs / Icebergs off the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, February 2009, Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series
Dr Robert (Bob) Pitman, from US National Marine Fisheries Service, scientific advisor, relaxing on board the 'Golden Fleece' prior to searching for whales, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, January 200...  -  Kathryn Jeffs
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Kathryn Jeffs / Dr Robert (Bob) Pitman, from US National Marine Fisheries Service, scientific advisor, relaxing on board the 'Golden Fleece' prior to searching for whales, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, January 200...
The Frozen Planet team waiting to board the United States Coastguard Cutter 'Healy' in Dutch Harbour, Alaska, USA, on their way to film Spectacled eider ducks in the Bering Sea, March 2008. Taken on l...  -  Jeff Wilson
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Jeff Wilson / The Frozen Planet team waiting to board the United States Coastguard Cutter 'Healy' in Dutch Harbour, Alaska, USA, on their way to film Spectacled eider ducks in the Bering Sea, March 2008. Taken on l...
BBC producer Chadden Hunter looking at the incredible ice crystal formations inside volcanic ice caves below Mount Erebus, Antarctica. Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, 2009  -  Chadden Hunter
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Chadden Hunter / BBC producer Chadden Hunter looking at the incredible ice crystal formations inside volcanic ice caves below Mount Erebus, Antarctica. Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, 2009
Doug Allan filming swimming  polar bear (Ursus maritimus) from boat  in the Canadian Arctic. On location for BBC programme 'Polar Bear Special', May 1996.  -  Martha Holmes
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Martha Holmes / Doug Allan filming swimming polar bear (Ursus maritimus) from boat in the Canadian Arctic. On location for BBC programme 'Polar Bear Special', May 1996.
Doug Allan, cameraman, looking for Killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Antarctica.  Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, January 2009  -  Kathryn Jeffs
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Kathryn Jeffs / Doug Allan, cameraman, looking for Killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Antarctica. Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, January 2009
View through the porthole of science teams and Frozen Planet film crew working on the sea ice in the Bering Sea, Alaska, USA, March 2008. The film crew were in search of Spectacled eider ducks, temper...  -  Jeff Wilson
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Jeff Wilson / View through the porthole of science teams and Frozen Planet film crew working on the sea ice in the Bering Sea, Alaska, USA, March 2008. The film crew were in search of Spectacled eider ducks, temper...
Crew watch heavy machinery drilling through the ice to create an ice-hole for BBC filming crew, McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea, Antarctica, November 2008  -  Neil Lucas
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Neil Lucas / Crew watch heavy machinery drilling through the ice to create an ice-hole for BBC filming crew, McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea, Antarctica, November 2008
Frozen Planet team, training on snow mobiles, Svalbard.  Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, 2008  -  Chadden Hunter
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Chadden Hunter / Frozen Planet team, training on snow mobiles, Svalbard. Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet series, 2008
Cameraman Jeff Turner and Producer Chadden Hunter exposed at -40 degrees in Arctic circle in Northern Canada while filming wolves and bison hunting sequence. Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet se...  -  Chadden Hunter
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Chadden Hunter / Cameraman Jeff Turner and Producer Chadden Hunter exposed at -40 degrees in Arctic circle in Northern Canada while filming wolves and bison hunting sequence. Taken on location for BBC Frozen Planet se...
Cameraman filming, Svalbard, Norway, June. Taken on location for BBC 'Life' series.  -  Paul Williams
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Paul Williams / Cameraman filming, Svalbard, Norway, June. Taken on location for BBC 'Life' series.
Cameraman Warwick Sloss filming Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) in flower on Svalbard, Spitzbergen, Norwiegan Arctic, July 2009. Taken on location for the BBC series, Frozen Planet.  -  Jeff Wilson
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Jeff Wilson / Cameraman Warwick Sloss filming Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) in flower on Svalbard, Spitzbergen, Norwiegan Arctic, July 2009. Taken on location for the BBC series, Frozen Planet.
Bill Oddie and Peter Holden in outside broadcast van for Bird in the Nest series, 1994  -  Ben Osborne
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Ben Osborne / Bill Oddie and Peter Holden in outside broadcast van for Bird in the Nest series, 1994
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