The legendary broadcaster narrates an hour-long episode of his Dynasties programmes next month, after his BBC One show A Perfect Planet was moved back to January. To make up for it Sir David, 94, will present to viewers young meerkat queen Maghogho as she tries to establish her family on the salt pans of Botswana – one of the harshest places in the world. The region is so hot and dry that almost nothing survives but somehow the inexperienced meerkat mother must raise her pups. Maghogho’s brood faces immense dust storms plus battles with rivals that push them to the limits of their endurance, their survival depending entirely on rains arriving in time to transform the desert into a lush paradise.
One TV insider said: “There’s a lot of jeopardy but it’s Christmas so there’s going to be a happy ending. It’s a beautiful story.”
Wildlife producer Emma Napper added: “Meerkats are one of the most charismatic and well-loved animals in Africa. Their struggles and triumphs were completely unexpected and ultimately this is a story of the strength of a family.”
The film, from the BBC’s award-winning natural history unit, was made by Mike Gunton, executive producer behind the original Dynasties series and Sir David’s Planet Earth II.
The meerkats special is part of a bumper festive schedule from the BBC. Call The Midwife is expected to be one of the most-watched shows, with Sister Monica Joan set to be rushed to
hospital in a tense storyline.
In Doctor Who, Captain Jack returns as John Barrowman reprises his role as one of the show’s favourite characters in Revolution Of The Daleks, expected on New Year’s Day.
Victoria Wood’s Secret List will air on BBC Two and sees the late comic’s favourite sketches compiled into a two-parter including clips from her personal archive.
The Vicar Of Dibley returns too, with Geraldine Granger (Dawn French) delivering Zoom sermons to her parish.
Charlotte Moore, BBC chief content officer, said: “We’ve pulled out all the stops this Christmas to keep people entertained and bring comfort and joy when we need it most, with a range of unmissable programmes.”