There are few natural historians and documentary presenters who have a body of work as rich as Sir David Attenborough, the English broadcaster who has spearheaded and narrated projects like Planet Earth, The Blue Planet, and dozens of other critically acclaimed and consequential films and series about nearly every square inch of the known natural world. There is something in Attenborough’s voice; something so inviting and friendly that you can’t help but lose yourself to his various specials for hours at a time.
If you have seen one or two of David Attenborough’s enchanting documentaries but want to see more, I have some good news for you, because I’ve put together a list of some of his most important work to date and how you can watch them on services like Paramount+, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.
Planet Earth/Planet Earth II (Discovery+)
The BBC nature documentary series, Planet Earth, was one of the best reasons to invest in a high-definition TV and Blu-ray player upon its release in 2006. This beautifully (and painstakingly) shot program explores 10 different ecosystems around the world, showcasing the natural wonders of Earth with stunning visuals and poignant narration by David Attenborough.
The 2016 followup, Planet Earth II, which quickly became a must watch for people with 4K TVs, examines six different environments, but also digs more into the fragility of the natural world and what we stand to lose if it’s not protected.
Stream Planet Earth on Discovery+.
Stream Planet Earth II on Discovery+.
Buy Planet Earth on Amazon.
Buy Planet Earth II on Amazon.
The Blue Planet/Blue Planet II (Discovery+)
It is often said that man knows more about outer space than the depths of Earth’s oceans, but the 2001 documentary series, The Blue Planet, helps us better understand the world under water. Over the course of eight episodes, David Attenborough takes viewers on an informative and eye-opening excursion to the mysteries of the blue planet.
The 2018 followup, Blue Planet II, follows a similar path as its predecessor, but with state-of-the-art technology and a better understanding of how climate change affects some of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet.
Stream The Blue Planet on Discovery+.
Stream The Blue Planet on Discovery+.
Buy The Blue Planet on Amazon.
Buy Blue Planet II on Amazon.
Frozen Planet (Discovery+)
As the name suggests, the 2011 BBC documentary series, Frozen Planet, focuses on the polar regions of Earth and the various flora and fauna that call the top and bottom of the planet home. Over the course of seven episodes, all narrated by David Attenborough, the series dives deep below the ice of the North and South poles, explores volcanoes, and gets up close and personal with animals of all shapes and sizes.
Stream Frozen Planet on Discovery+.
Buy Frozen Planet on Amazon.
A Perfect Planet (Discovery+)
The 2021 five-part documentary series, A Perfect Planet, focuses less on wild animals and plants on the surface of Earth and more on things like volcanoes, weather, the sun, oceans, and humans. Each of the episodes focuses on a different factor and how it impacts the natural world for better or worse. With absolutely stunning visuals and cautionary narration from David Attenborough, the series examines how the natural world works in concert and how even the smallest of changes can snowball into something much larger.
Stream A Perfect Planet on Discovery+.
Buy A Perfect Planet on Amazon.
David Attenborough’s Ant Mountain (Curiosity Stream)
There are a lot of reasons to check out Curiosity Stream, and the 2019 documentary David Attenborough’s Ant Mountain should be at the top of that list. Set in the Jura Mountains along the French/Swiss border, Attenborough takes an up-close look at various colonies of ants that call the range home. I know, a documentary about ants doesn’t sound all that interesting, but this documentary is exhilarating and educational. From scenes of colonies battling for more ground (by viciously attacking their enemies and melting their insides with acid) to footage from inside the massive mounds, there’s a lot going on here.
Stream David Attenborough’s Ant Mountain on Curiosity Stream.
Our Planet (Netflix)
The 2019 Netflix documentary series, Our Planet, is more of a cautionary tale than some of David Attenborough’s other documentaries and has a major focus on how climate change impacts every living creature on the planet (both above and below the surface). This isn’t to say the eight-part series doesn’t have spectacular shots of the natural world, because those stunning visuals of animals in their natural habitats are all there and look better than ever before.
Stream Our Planet on Netflix.
Attenborough And The Sea Monster
The 2019 PBS documentary Attenborough & the Sea Monster is less of a nature special and more an investigation into the discovery of an Ichthyosaur fossil, a massive aquatic dinosaur that swam the oceans of the Jurassic Period. Over the course of this investigative documentary, David Attenborough attempts to learn more about the mysterious sea monster and how it became extinct long before dinosaurs were wiped from the planet.
Rent/Buy Attenborough & the Sea Dragon on Amazon.
David Attenborough’s Light On Earth (HBO Max)
The 2016 BBC documentary, David Attenborough’s Light on Earth, follows the famed naturalist as he explores the wild world of bioluminescence and the various organisms around the world that use it for a myriad of reasons. From fireflies using their ability to generate light for mating rituals to bacteria creating dazzling light shows under water, and multiple locations in between, this exploration into the natural wonder of bioluminescent animals, plants, and bacteria is a stunning and enchanting addition to the list of best HBO Max documentaries.
Stream David Attenborough’s Light On Earth on HBO Max.
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet (Netflix)
If you have ever wanted to know more about David Attenborough’s life and how he became such a prominent voice in nature documentaries, the 2020 Netflix documentary David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is the best way to go. This feature-length documentary jumps between Attenborough talking about his own personal life and professional experiences, and the evolution of the natural world. At times hopeful for the future and at others a love letter to places and species lost to time, this beautiful and highly personal journey examines what makes the naturalist tick and why he fights for tomorrow.
Stream David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet on Netflix.
The Year Earth Changed (Apple TV+)
In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to force civilization to shelter-in-place and slow down like never before, the world around us also began to undergo a significant change. The 2021 Apple TV+ original documentary The Year Earth Changed shows that although humanity was forced to stay indoors and put life on hold, the natural world flourished thanks to fewer people and cars on the streets, and less pollution than in seen in recent memory. With the combination of footage taken from major metropolitan areas around the world and narration by David Attenborough, the 48-minute film examines how something good can come from such a dark time.
Stream The Year Earth Changed on Apple TV+.
David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities (Discovery+)
You don’t become a decorated nature documentarian without being curious, and if David Attenborough is one thing (well, besides being a respected naturalist) it is curious. The 2013 BBC documentary series David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities takes the iconic presenter out of the narration booth and into a treasure trove of natural wonders as he explores how they work.
The series, which consists of four seasons, follows Attenborough as he examines animals with hard-to-believe stretching abilities, the mysterious narwhal, patterns in the natural world, and so much more. You see a more inquisitive and humorous side of Attenborough here as he comes face to face with some of the most curious organisms the world has ever seen.
Stream David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities on Discovery+.
Buy David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities (Seasons 1 and 2) on Amazon.
David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef (Paramount+)
Off the coast of Queensland, Australia, lies one of the richest and most significant ecosystems on the surface of the planet, the Great Barrier Reef. Home to thousands of species of animals and vegetation (with more being discovered all the time), the natural wonder has been the subject of many documentaries over the years, and the 2015 Smithsonian Channel series, David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef, is one of the best and most insightful. Filmed 60 years after he first visited the reef, the three-part documentary uses modern technology to dig into the mysteries and riches of the phenomenon, in addition to touching on its fragility and bleak prospects for a future. A love letter to the natural world and those who dedicate their lives to preserving it, this series is a must-watch.
Stream David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef on Paramount+.
Buy David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef on Amazon.
These are just a dozen or so of the great and wonderful documentaries featuring the words, voice, and enthusiasm of David Attenborough, and there is an entire world of great specials to explore. And, as we await the arrival of Planet Earth III and Frozen Planet II, now is a great time to check out all the 2022 TV premiere dates.