‘Our planet reveals its secrets’: wildlife documentaries on television

Thomas Austin

in Watching the World

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780719076893
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701775 | DOI:
‘Our planet reveals its secrets’: wildlife documentaries on television

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This chapter examines recent commercial and formal developments in the popular and enduring genre of the wildlife documentary on television. It draws on three original qualitative audience studies to look at the responses of viewers to a range of wildlife programming, from high budget ‘blue-chip’ series to hybrids borrowing celebrity presenters and formats from ‘reality television’ and other popular genres. The range of programming and viewer responses analysed in this chapter suggests that assumptions about the audience embedded in some critiques of constructions of nature do not come close to telling the full story of wildlife documentaries on television and their audiences. The chapter also reveals the expectations and engagements, pleasures or irritations, understandings or confusions, derived by the audience from viewing wildlife documentaries.

Keywords: wildlife documentary; commercial developments; formal developments; qualitative audience studies; wildlife programming; reality television

Chapter.  21491 words. 

Subjects: Film

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