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What to watch while in lockdown: Geographical’s top picks

  • Written by  Geographical
  • Published in Nature
What to watch while in lockdown: Geographical’s top picks
25 Mar
We may be stuck inside, but there’s no need to close our eyes to the world beyond our walls. We’ve collated some of our favourite documentaries available on Netflix and BBC iPlayer to tantalise the geographically minded...

Chasing Coral (2017)

This documentary takes a deeper look at the ways in which coral is being impacted by climate change. Photographers, scientists and divers grab their cameras and head underwater, attempting to record the process of coral bleaching. With the message being ‘I have the upmost respect for corals’, you hear about the uses, the beauty and the loss of these underwater worlds. Directed by Jeff Orlowski, the film has grown into a movement.
Read our full review of Chasing Coral here.

Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak (2020)

Not for anyone trying to avoid all mention of the c-word. This docuseries following those working on the front lines of the battle against influenza and other diseases is scarily prescient and reveals much about the current crisis, not least that it was entirely predictable. Frightening but fascinating, there is also hope to be found as we hear from inspiring scientists and doctors battling to save lives and control outbreaks. 

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Simon Reeve’s back catalog

From Colombia to Russia, Australia to Ireland, TV explorer and reporter Simon Reeve has covered a huge amount of ground, uncovering the lives of ordinary and extraordinary people everywhere he goes. Almost all of his docuseries are available on BBC iPlayer, offering an intriguing glimpse into the presenter’s changing style as he grows from wide-eyed youngster to the more mature and probing reporter he is today. Some of our favourites include Russia with Simon ReeveTropic of Cancer and his most recent epic journey from Canada down to the Pacific Coast in The Americas with Simon Reeve

Plus, read our interview with Simon here

Dark Tourist (2018)

A culture fix like no other, David Farrier visits tourist attractions that offer ‘death and destruction’. The New Zealand-born journalist and filmmaker showcases the unconventional ways some tourists seek to escape the everyday – by visiting places that are historically associated with death and tragedy. Across the eight-part docuseries, Farrier introduces the people embracing the phenomenon and visits the locations at the top of their lists: from haunted forests, to a lake emitting more radiation than Chernobyl.

Rotten (2018)

‘If you eat food, this is an issue you need to worry about.’ Opening our eyes to what is really being put on our shelves – and who benefits in the process – this six-episode series shines a light on the fishing industry, looks at chicken production and investigates where the money is being made when it comes to milk. Without preaching, the documentary shares the impacts on society, the environment and our health. Highlighting the views of farmers, supermarkets and corporate middlemen, this series answers pressing questions.

Our Planet (2019)

We’d never be mad enough to miss out the king of nature documentaries. Several of Attenborough’s best series are available on Netflix including Life (2009), Planet Earth II (2016) and Blue Planet II (2017). But for us, nothing beats 2019’s Our Planet. With a stronger focus on climate change than previous offerings and a more honest of appraisal of the natural world today, it still contains the stunning footage and relaxing narration we know and love. 

Mercury 13 (2018)

Everyone knows about the first man to walk on the Moon, but what about the women who might have taken on that prestigious role? Directed by David Sington and Heather WalshMercury 13 details the testing, and eventual write-off of the women who were due to take part in the 1961 spaceflight. With 13 women passing the tests – some performing better than their male counterparts – a debate was sparked as to why gender was considered at all. This hour-and-a-half film offers all sides of the debate.

Stacey Dooley Investigates: The Whale Hunters

Fast becoming an established reporter on a wide range of global issues, Stacey Dooley turns to the controversial practice of whale hunting in one of her latest documentaries, available on BBC iPlayer. Visiting the remote Faroe Islands she speaks to modern-day hunters who defend their traditional whale slaughter for food, while activists from around the world say they’ll keep coming to the island until they stop. 

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