‘Attenborough’s Life in Colour’ to feature research by Bristol University academics


By Joe Green, Investigations Editor

The research of University of Bristol academics is set to feature in a new wildlife series narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Attenborough’s Life in Colour, produced by Bristol-based TV production company Humble Bee Films, airs on 7 March at 7pm on BBC One and focusses on the role played by colour within the animal kingdom.

The series will include the findings of several University researchers on how colour affects a number of species ranging from tigers to mantis shrimps.

Featuring on the episode airing on Sunday will be research by the University of Bristol’s Camo Lab, led by Dr Laszlo Talas and Dr John Fennell, which found that the colour blindness of sambar deer allows Bengal tigers to remain virtually invisible to their prey despite their orange stripes.

Also involved in the series were Bristol academics Dr Martin How, Dr Nick Roberts and former Bristol PhD student Sam Smithers, who were part of an international group of scientists that developed a camera enabling the series to show the world from the perspective of fiddler crabs.

The new camera technology also allows the program to reveal the perspective of the mantis shrimp, and how the species uses the polarisation of light to spot predators and communicate.

Dr How said that the ‘new polarisation cameras help us get a step closer to getting this animal’s perspective and it was great to be able to share this with viewers of the series.’

Speaking prior to the series airing, Sir David Attenborough stated that: ‘The natural world is full of colours, colours that attract attention, that blend beautifully with their background and... create extraordinary displays.

‘With new cameras, some developed especially for this series, we can reveal a world hidden from our eyes.’

Bristol’s involvement in Attenborough’s Life in Colour is not limited to research and academics as the series is produced by Bristol-based TV production company Humble Bee Films.

Founder of Humble Bee Films Stephen Dunleavy and the Series Producer Sharmila Choudhury are both University of Bristol alumni.

Commenting on their work, Sharmila said: ‘Using new camera technologies we can see the world as animals see them – sometimes for the first time.

‘For a long time scientists have been fascinated by why animals have so many different colours but only recently has modern technology allowed them to discover exactly how animals see and use colour.

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‘The expertise that the University of Bristol provided really helped us visualise what the world is like for animals.’

Featured Image: University of Bristol / BBC

Will you be watching Attenborough's Life in Colour this Sunday at 7pm on BBC One?