Attenborough's Living Lights

Attenborough's Living Lights
Sunday 6pm - 7pm Yesterday


Close the curtains, turn off the living-room lights and bask in the glow of this otherworldly one-off from the master. David Attenborough initiates us in a subject that fascinates him – bioluminescence, the living glow produced by creatures from fireflies to rippling squid.

Many examples are filmed here for the first time, using recent breakthroughs in camera technology, and the results have a fairytale quality. Not just flirting fireflies but fungi that glow underground (why?), or the larvae of Tasmanian gnats that mimic the night sky on their cave ceiling to lure in prey – one of those natural scenes that looks almost too odd to be real.

In some cases, Attenborough has to admit that these wonders are as yet unexplained. We hate to hear him say, “We still don’t understand”, but as he points out, that means a field rich in possibility for scientists of the future.


David Attenborough explores the world of bioluminescence, the often spectacular natural light produced by creatures including glow-worms, fireflies and plankton, using specially designed cameras, some fitted to a new generation of deep-sea submersibles and robots to record instances in the very deep ocean. The programme shows a millipede glowing on the forest floor in California, the mesmerising flashing light patterns of the synchronous firefly, the spooky glow of a rare dragon fish and luminous earth worms in France.

Cast & Crew

Presenter David Attenborough
Director Joe Loncraine
Executive Producer Ivo Filatsch
Producer Joe Loncraine