Dynasties (2018 TV series)

Dynasties is a 2018 British nature documentary series on five vulnerable or endangered species known to form enduring populations: chimpanzee, emperor penguin, lion, tiger and African wild dog. The series is produced by the BBC Natural History Unit[1][2] and narrated by David Attenborough. The music score was composed by Benji Merrison.[3] Each episode ends with Dynasties On Location, a behind the scenes look at the planning of each episode, which could be years in advance before production crew even started filming.

GenreNature documentary
Presented byDavid Attenborough
Composer(s)Benji Merrison
Will Slater
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes5 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Mike Gunton
Running time59 minutes
Production company(s)
Original network
Picture format
Audio format
Original release11 November (2018-11-11) 
9 December 2018 (2018-12-09)
External links

The series debut was on 11 November 2018 simultaneously broadcast on BBC One, BBC One HD and BBC Earth, and premiered on the same day in Asia. The series debuts in the U.S. as a four-network simulcast (BBC America, AMC, IFC, and Sundance) on 19 January 2019, and in New Zealand on TVNZ 1 on 20 January 2019 (NZDT), with all 5 episodes available on TVNZ On Demand.[4]


Viewing data sourced from BARB.[5]

No.TitleProduced byOriginal air dateUK viewers
1"Chimpanzee"Rosie Thomas11 November 2018 (2018-11-11)7.63
David is the longest reigning alpha male African chimpanzee of 3 years in the Senegalese forest. However, with de-forestation due to recent gold rush, a long drought and competition for the throne and mates, he is losing his grip at the top after being attacked by other eligible adult males staged a coup and left him for dead. David survived the attack, and fathered a new boy 10 months later. He has deceased post-production in the UK.
2"Emperor"Miles Barton18 November 2018 (2018-11-18)7.71

The story follows the lives and survival stories of Emperor Penguins that return to Atka Bay and Neumayer-Station III, from returning in autumn to breed, the males huddling and guarding the eggs for 4 months without eating while the females fish for food, returning to just as the newborns hatch, or die. The mothers of deceased newborns stealing other newborns, to the fathers leaving the family to feed themselves. By springtime, the newborns must learn to stand and huddle to shelter from the cold as they both go out to fish, and they moult before reaching adulthood.

In the behind-the-scenes, the production crew had to intervene (normally not allowed when filming) to save as many penguins to climb out of a steep trench.
3"Lion"Simon Blakeney25 November 2018 (2018-11-25)8.24

The story is a two-year journey that follows the Marsh Pride of lions in the Maasai Mara, led by lionesses Charm and cousin Sienna after the pride's adult males abandon the group. Charm struggles to keep the remaining members together and thriving during the annual wildebeest migration from threats such as intentional poisoning from local tribespeople (which kills one of Charm's young sons, as well as Sienna), and wandering adult male lions. One of Charm's elder sons, Tatu, eventually leaves the pride with his cousin, Red, to start a new pride. Eventually two adult males take over the Marsh Pride, leading to the remaining three young female cubs leaving the pride for their own safety as they are too young to mate. Charm eventually mates with one of the males, and, four months later, gives birth to two cubs, who are accepted into the pride. Yaya was also pregnant with the other male, making Charm a first-time grandmother.

In the behind-the-scenes, Charm's son did receive treatment from local doctors, but it was unsuccessful.
4"Painted Wolf"Nick Lyon2 December 2018 (2018-12-02)6.90

Tait is the elderly matriarch of a pack of painted wolves in Zimbabwe's Mana Pools National Park. Her pack is driven out of their territory by Tait's daughter, Blacktip, the matriarch of a rival pack in need of more space for their large family of 32. Their combined territory also shrunk over Tait's lifetime due to the expansion of human, hyena and lion territories. Tait leads her family into the territory of a lion pride in the midst of a drought, with Blacktip's pack in an eight month long pursuit. During this time, both packs welcome a litter of puppies, and Tait's pride somehow manages to keep their pack alive in midst of lion pride territory. Blacktip's pack suffers heavy losses, including the loss of a puppy from a hyena clan, and an adult from crocodiles. Having suffered these casualties, Blacktip ends the pursuit and retreats back to her original territory.

Before Tait's pack move back to their territory, age catches up with Tait, and she and the dominant male are killed by lions deep in the pride's territory. Tait's pack encounter a group of roving males before returning to their territory, and Tait's daughter, Tammy, becomes the new matriarch, welcoming a litter of 7 puppies. Blacktip also welcomes a litter of puppies back in her original territory, bringing balance back to Tait's descendants, and her dynasty continuing to thrive.
5"Tiger"Miles Barton9 December 2018 (2018-12-09)7.47
Raj Bhera, a female Bengal tiger, raises her four cubs, including youngest daughter, Biba, to adulthood in 2 years in India's Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, while battling dwindling natural habitat, small territory against other tiger prides and nocturnal animals hunting for the young cubs in the den for food, summer heatwaves and droughts. As the smallest and weakest against her brothers, she often only get final dibs on hunted food. Also: In the two months that the young cubs grow to childhood and adolescence at 9 months, in Raj Bhera's absence patrolling her 20km boundary, Solo, her adult daughter, also tries to gain more territory due to the lack of space, but she had been unsuccessful. The cubs also have to be wary of their father, as they rarely meet. By the time the cubs are a year old, they practise hunting skills on each other. But by the time monsoon returned, Raj Bherra was injured, forcing Bibba to find new territories and leave the pride much sooner than expected. Raj Bherra was later rescued by park officials as she ventured well out of the reserve to a nearby village In the end, all four have reached adulthood, which is double the average survival rate.


DVD and Blu-ray

The series was released as a two-disc DVD set[6] as well as a standard Blu-ray set[7] on 3 December 2018, and as a six-disc 4K UHD Blu-ray + Blu-ray set[8] on 10 December 2018. Media is distributed by BBC Studios in the UK.


An accompanying hardback book was written by Steven Moss with a foreword by David Attenborough. It is published by BBC Books (ISBN 978-1785943010) and released on 25 October 2018 in the UK.[9]

The book Painted Wolves: A Wild Dog's Life by Nicholas Dyer and Peter Blinston is a large-format coffee-table book that charts the lives and fortunes of the same packs of painted wolves featured in BBC Dynasties. It is published by Lycaon Ventures (ISBN 9781999611033). [10]


Soundtrack album by
Benji Merrison & Will Slater
Released11 November 2018 (Digital)
14 December 2018 (Audio CD)
GenreSoundtrack, Classical music
LabelSilva Screen Records
ProducerBBC Studios
BBC Earth

The musical score and songs featured in the series were composed by Benji Merrison and Will Slater. A digital soundtrack was released on 11 November 2018,[11] while a two physical disc will be released on 14 December 2018 in the UK.[12][13][14]


  1. "BBC - Sir David Attenborough to present BBC One's Dynasty - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  2. White, Peter (2018-09-25). "Sir David Attenborough's Wildlife Doc Series 'Dynasties' Goes Global Via BBC Studios". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  3. "Benji Merrison on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  4. www.tvnz.co.nz https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/dynasties. Retrieved 2019-01-31. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. "Four-screen dashboard - BARB".
  6. "Dynasties (DVD)". Amazon.co.uk.
  7. "Dynasties (Blu-Ray)". Amazon.co.uk.
  8. "Dynasties (4K UHD Blu-Ray + Blu-Ray)". Amazon.co.uk.
  9. Dynasties (Hardback). ASIN 1785943014.
  10. "The Book - Painted Wolves A Wild Dog's Life". The Painted Wolf Foundation. Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  11. "Dynasties Original Soundtrack (Amazon Music)". Amazon.co.uk.
  12. "Soundtrack Album for BBC's 'Dynasties' Announced". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  13. "Dynasties – The Soundtrack To BBC Earth's New Nature Series". Silva Screen Records. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  14. "Dynasties Original Soundtrack (Audio Disc)". Amazon.co.uk.
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