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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

This Earth Day, reflect on The Year Earth Changed with Apple TV Plus and David Attenborough

A capybara checks out the Argentinian suburbs in The Year Earth Changed
A capybara checks out the Argentinian suburbs in The Year Earth Changed
Screenshot: The Year Earth Changed

Earth Day takes on a whole new resonance in 2021, as the world continues to battle the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The theme for this year’s Earth Day (April 22), is Restore the Earth, and it will be put into action through three days worth of digital events starting on April 20, including focusing on climate change, environmental justice, and emerging green technologies. Keeping these issues in mind, Apple TV+ is debuting a brand new original documentary narrated by erstwhile Emmy-winning historian, broadcaster, and orator Sir David Attenborough, called The Year Earth Changed. The documentary will premiere globally on April 16 to herald the world’s largest annual environmental movement.


The Year Earth Changed will showcase exclusive footage from around the world after an unprecedented year. It offers a timely and fresh approach to the global lockdown, seeking out the uplifting stories that have come out of it. This includes hearing birdsong in deserted cities, witnessing whales communicating in new ways, and how people all over the world have re-engaged with nature. It shows how the changes in human behavior can have a profound impact on nature and give us hope for the future. The hour-long documentary is produced by BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit and directed by Tom Beard.

In an exclusive clip from the special, South American native semiaquatic mammals capybaras—the largest living rodents in the world—are seen returning to their former home of Argentinian wetlands four months into the lockdown. Specifically, they go to the well-manicured gardens of a Buenos Aires suburb. “Nothing seemed to stop them from enjoying what was originally theirs,” Attenborough says in a voiceover, just before the enthusiastic capybaras are chased away by a barking puppy.

To build on their Earth Day momentum, Apple TV+ is also launching the second seasons of two docuseries, Tiny World and Earth At Night In Color, on April 16. In the former, narrated by Paul Rudd, audiences get detailed insights into the ingenuity and resilience of the planet’s smallest creatures. With over 200 species filmed and 3160 hours of footage, the six-episode show shares surprising stories and spectacular cinematography that spotlight small creatures and the extraordinary things they do to survive. Tiny World features glimpses of the anemone shrimp, captured on film for the first time, as well as the “biting” behavior of fang blenny fish, filmed in slow-motion with use of phantom high-speed cameras. The series is produced by Plimsoll Productions and is executive produced by Tom Hugh Jones, who also serves as writer with David Fowler.

Tom Hiddleston returns to narrate the six-episode season two of Earth At Night In Color, which uses cutting-edge cameras and a revolutionary post-production process to presents nocturnal wonders with striking clarity. The series showcases the ever-before-seen behaviors of animals after dark, captured using low-light cameras and light from a full moon, include elephants battling hyenas around starlit waterholes, kangaroos embracing under the cover of darkness to find a mate, and tiny planktonic life at night in the ocean, among others. It is produced by Offspring Films, Sam Hodgson, and executive produced by Alex Williamson.

These documentaries will be featured in a special Earth Day room on Apple TV+, along with the Cinema for Peace International Green Film Award-winning movie The Elephant Queen and Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, which debuted last year on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The animated short film, based on the best-selling children’s book by Oliver Jeffers, is narrated by Meryl Streep. Jacob Tremblay stars as a precocious seven-year-old who, on the eve of Earth Day, learns about the wonders of the planet from his parents, played by Chris O’Dowd and Ruth Negga, and a mysterious exhibit at the aptly named Museum of Everything.

Staff Writer (TV)