5 Best David Attenborough Animal Documentaries

Join Sir David Attenborough on incredible adventures through the planet’s most remarkable landscapes and learn all about wildlife by watching any of these five documentaries.

Aug 26, 2023By Natasha Elder
best david attenborough animal documentaries

With his soothing voice and incredible knack for storytelling, nobody does documentaries quite like Sir David Attenborough does. Not only is he the best of the best when it comes to narration, his documentaries always include astonishing HD footage that captivates the eyes and minds of his audience.

Sir David Attenborough has been seen on our screens since 21 December 1954, so it’s safe to say that he’s released his fair share of documentaries by now – he’s appeared in more than 100 to date. This abundance of options can make it difficult to decide which documentary to watch, and that’s where this article comes in. Without any further ado, here are the five best Sir David Attenborough animal documentaries.

1. Planet Earth (2006)

planet earth snapshot outer space
Image credit: NASA on Unsplash

At the very top of the list is the legendary ‘Planet Earth’. This is the groundbreaking series that redefined nature documentaries and changed the way people learn about animals. Prepare to be enthralled, educated, and entertained as you follow Sir David Attenborough’s awesome journey across our awesome planet.

From desert dunes to polar plains, this visual feast of a documentary does a phenomenal job of communicating just how diverse life on Earth is. The series took more than five years to film, and this is evident in the quality of the footage. Every episode takes you on a journey that will leave you feeling awe and wonder.

There are 11 incredible episodes to get lost in. From pole to pole, mountains, fresh water, caves, deserts, ice worlds, great plains, jungles, shallow seas, seasonal forests, and ocean deep, every episode will educate and inspire you.

2. The Blue Planet (2001)

waves ocean sea foam
Image credit: Christoffer Engström on Unsplash

Have you ever wondered what lies beneath the surface of our impossibly vast oceans? Are you fascinated by creatures of the deep? Are you always searching for facts about killer whales, octopuses, and other sea animals? Do thoughts of deep-sea zones feature in your daydreams or night terrors? If you answered yes to any of the above, you need to watch ‘The Blue Planet’.

This mesmerizing documentary is a one-way ticket to an underwater wonderland. ‘The Blue Planet’ series is eight episodes long and covers a thorough introduction to the ocean and its specifics, the deep sea, the open ocean, frozen seas, seasonal seas, coral seas, tidal seas, and coasts.

While some episodes are entertaining and exhilarating, others are soothing and very relaxing to watch (coupled with Sir David Attenborough’s lullaby of a voice, a trip to snoozeville is almost guaranteed!), so there is something for everyone in ‘The Blue Planet’.

3. Frozen Planet (2011)

polar bear waving ice
Image credit: Hans-Jurgen Mager on Unsplash

Next up, we have ‘Frozen Planet’, which follows Sir David Attenborough on an Artic and Antarctic adventure across the iciest of realms. If you’re looking to learn about animals, including polar bears, penguins, arctic foxes, seals, or arctic terns, look no further than ‘Frozen Planet.’

In this chillingly beautiful seven-episode series, you will be transported from pole to pole across Spring, Summer, Autumn, and – of course - Winter. You will also be treated to a look at human activity in these often-unforgiving polar regions and given a lesson in global warming, melting ice caps, and climate change.

4. Life (2009)

david attenborough ocean background
Image credit: The Guardian

The extraordinary journey of life itself is no better captured than in ‘Life’. In this well-respected ten-episode series, Sir David Attenborough delves into the incredibly diverse spectrum of species found on our planet. In each episode, he highlights their awesome adaptions, mind-boggling behaviors, and stellar survival strategies.

The series is broken down into episodes about general challenges of life, reptiles and amphibians, mammals, fish, birds, insects, hunters and hunted, creatures of the deep, plants, and primates. Each episode of ‘Life’ is worth watching, and some of them can evoke some pretty amazing emotions.

Expect to see creatures such as flying squirrels jumping through the air, eyebrow-raising birds of paradise mating rituals, and several TV firsts while watching ‘Life’. At the risk of sounding cheesy, you really will walk away from the screen with a renewed sense of appreciation for the magnificent world we live in.

5. Africa (2013)

african plains veld bush
Image credit: MARIOLA GROBELSKA on Unsplash

If you’re interested in Africa, this documentary is a must-watch. In the aptly named ‘Africa’ series, Sir David Attenborough brings the viewer along on an exhilarating six-episode expedition across the incredible continent of Africa.

Each 60-minute episode of ‘Africa’ explores the Kalahari, Savannah, Congo, Cape, and Sahara, before taking a look at what the future holds for this largely untapped region. In this episode, you’ll witness the often-brutal reality of surviving in this challenging environment and be awed by the majesty of some of the incredible creatures inhabiting it.

Natasha Elder
By Natasha Elder

Natasha is a mother, a wife, a writer, and a serial cat owner. Though she is currently in mourning, her heart not ready for another feline family member just yet, she has always lived life with four paws beside her. She loves – you guessed it – cats, as well as creatures of the fluffy, scaly, and finned variety. Natasha longs to meet Sir David Attenborough one day and is passionate about responsible pet ownership