The new season of the BBC’s hit nature show Blue Planet will be “co-narrated” by comedienne Dawn French, according to documents leaked from the show’s production company.
Blue Planet II, the highly anticipated follow up to the BBC’s record-breaking sea life documentary, will see long time presenter David Attenborough joined by French in a new “conversational” style of narration.
The leaked memo, believed to have been authored by executive producer Alastair Fothergill, describes how French was drafted in to help Attenborough with the “tortuous workload” as he approached the “century mark”.
Attenborough, 90, has been the voice of many of the BBC’s flagship nature documentaries since the early 1960s. He has hosted more than 60 nature shows across the five decades since. This is the first time, however, that he will share his narrational duties with another broadcaster.
“Dawn has spoken to me and is very happy to do it” the memo continues. “I imagine we’ll want her on her top comedic chops as a counterbalance to [Attenborough’s] more soporific, shall we say, moments.”
The leak comes less than a week after the new series of the hit show was announced. It also arrives on the back of heavy press speculation over Attenborough’s health, following his less prominent on-screen role in 2016’s Planet Earth II.
“Good recognition in focus groups and hits Middle England nicely. Neil mentioned we might want her to tone down the animal impressions, but other than that we’re all good, I think.” the leaked note continues.
The decision also appears to have been made with the American market in mind. The memo ends: “Smashed the audition – Dawn had everyone rolling in the aisles with a bit about a porpoise. Bubbly, warm, and zany enough to keep the Yanks on board, too.”
French, 59, is best known for her starring role in the hit BBC sitcom The Vicar of Dibley. Her autobiography, Dear Fatty, became a nationwide bestseller in 2008. Blue Planet II, however, will be her first foray into documentary filmmaking.