James Honeyborne Interview: ‘Blue Planet II’ producer
“Who would have thought marine biology and oceanography could engage such an audience?,” “Blue Planet II” executive producer James Honeyborne asks in an interview with Gold Derby (watch the exclusive video above). The BBC documentary miniseries was the United Kingdom’s most-watched television program of 2017. He continues, “But it’s part of our world and it’s the world that we don’t know.… the scale of this place — there’s still so much to explore and it’s so important to us.”
With scores of 97 on Metacritic and 9.4 on IMDb, “Blue Planet II” is among the best-reviewed programs in television history. It is now nominated at the main BAFTA ceremony for Best Nonfiction Series and Best Must-See Moment, having won Best Nonfiction Cinematography and Best Nonfiction Sound at the craft ceremony last month out of seven total nominations. “Blue Planet II” follows 2001’s “The Blue Planet,” which was also presented by David Attenborough. “The Blue Planet” won both the Emmys and BAFTAs for Best Nonfiction Cinematography and Best Series Music out of five total Emmy nominations and seven BAFTA nominations.
Honeyborne feels that the series was due for a revival: “Our understanding of the ocean has fundamentally changed; our understanding of our impact on the ocean has also changed.” He also notes that technological advances allowed for footage that was impossible two decades ago and variably has never been captured before, so is now being studied by the scientific community. The scope of making the series — “125 expeditions to 39 countries; that’s 6,000 hours underwater and 1,000 hours in the deep ocean” — was immense, but Honeyborne credits the series’ success to the small-scale stories that appeared on screen. He says, “Once you meet an animal and you realize the challenges it faces and you see there are parallels with our lives, then you have a lot more empathy for it, so that was what our ambition was — to connect people in perhaps ways they hadn’t been before to life underwater.”