Sir David Attenborough's latest documentary Wild Isles landed on BBC One this evening, following the varied wildlife that can be found within the UK – starting with the killer whales, or orca, of Shetland.


The sequence follows a pod of orca as they hunt for seals and fairly soon a chase ensues between a determined orca and a panicked seal, desperate to escape the predator.

While the scene plays out effortlessly, Wild Isles executive producer Alastair Fothergill has revealed that the shot was only possible thanks to a WhatsApp group set up between cameramen and 250 locals, who were looking out for the rare pod of orca.

Speaking to and other press ahead of the documentary's release, Fothergill said that the crew and wildlife guide Richard Shucksmith were reliant on locals in order to get the shot, which required two trips to Shetland over two years.

Sir David Attenborough in Wild Isles
Sir David Attenborough in Wild Isles. BBC/Silverback Films/Chris Howard

"That was amazing actually, that was special," he said. "In my whole experience, that's never happened. Genuinely, it would have been totally impossible without Richard – just everybody in Shetland loves Richard – and his WhatsApp group and [the locals are] all into it."

He added: "They were very excited to hear about filming, and we never would have done it without them."

Meanwhile, series producer Hilary Jeffkins said that the film crew were able to return to track down the orca pod after failing the first time due to the show being based in the UK.

"The joy and the pain of filming in Britain is that if you go abroad, you know, you go for three weeks and you film what you can film. But here, you have the chance to go back," she said.

"So we took a gamble on some of the bigger sequences with orca and the hunting seagulls. We invested in them so we knew that it was going to be difficult and it's a worry – it wasn't right until the end of the second trip that we got that – so with some of the smaller sequences, we will go back because we just want another bit of detail, another stepping stone or we just would like better weather."

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The new documentary is Attenborough's first series shot entirely in the UK, with Fothergill revealing that the 97-year-old was "totally fired up" by the show's concept.

Wild Isles, which airs in five parts, looks in close detail at the UK's wildlife habitats, following species like golden eagles as well as ordinary-looking plants that bring a lot of drama to their surroundings when placed under the microscope.

Wild Isles continues on Sundays at 7pm on BBC One. If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide or visit our Documentaries hub for more news and features.


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