Ever wish Normal People would have a bit more whale action? We've got your answer.

The animal shows bringing you the best real-life drama

Tired of watching human faces on your screen but still love a bit of action? Tara Ward has you sorted with nature docos to fill the heart and lift the soul.

People are annoying, and that’s the truth. Look it up in the dictionary, write it in the sky, tattoo it across your heart. Have you ever not been annoyed by another human being? Either way, enough is enough. It’s time to wave goodbye to human-filled TV viewing, and embrace the sweet, sweet world of the nature documentary.  

Nature docos will fill your heart and lift your soul. They’re filled with cute baby animals and calming blue oceans and David Attenborough in a fluffy parka. They remind us that the world is a beautiful place, warming our hearts with stunning photography and inspiring tales of survival. Best of all, natural world docos have all the action and drama of your favourite TV show, but without any pesky, irritating people. Plus, there are lots of trees, and trees are good. Hug one. You’ll feel better.  

Let’s embrace the wild side with nature documentaries that capture all the drama of your favourite show, but none of the people.  

Blue Planet Revisited is Normal People… for whales 

The adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People sheds the author’s cynicism for a gentle insularity (Photo: TVNZ)

The only way Blue Planet Revisited could be better was if there was a dolphin named Connell who wore a neck chain and struggled to communicate his feelings. If you want deep TV, then Blue Planet Revisited will take you to Normal People’s emotional depths and beyond, all the way to the ocean floor. It will churn up your feelings, it will show you things you’ve never seen before and when it’s over, you’ll want to watch it again and again. It also features bird-eating fish, something you never see in County Sligo, more’s the pity.

Cats Uncovered is Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist… for felines

Jane Levy, is that you? (Photo: TVNZ)

Cats are cute and fluffy, and definitely burst into spontaneous song and dance routines whenever you leave the room. This is exactly what happens in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that cats can also hear the innermost thoughts of humans through the medium of pop music.  This feel-good doco will reveal more than you’ve ever wanted to know about the inner workings of felines, including how cats communicate far beyond a hot-step-shuffle every time they hear the opening bars to ‘Memory’. Someone should write a musical about cats. That would be amazing.

Seven Worlds, One Planet is Naked Attraction… for penguins

Who knows what penguins could be lurking behind them screens? (Photo: TVNZ)

It’s a big call to compare living legend David Attenborough’s natural world masterpiece Seven Worlds, One Planet to the strange beast that is Naked Attraction, but stay with me. Whether you’re Craig, a 29-year-old builder from Sheffield who loves bums and boobs, or a snub-nosed monkey huddling together to stay warm during a winter storm, we are all just animals trying to survive this crazy, climate-changing world. Sure, some of us are hungry orcas hunting down penguins in Antarctica while the rest get their bits and pieces out on a television dating show, but who is David Attenborough really judging here? Also, can you imagine Naked Attraction with an Attenborough commentary? Incredible.  

Serengeti is Shortland Street… for baboons

Imagine this with baboons (Photo: TVNZ)

Imagine Chris Warner in the African desert trying to choose which of his wives he’ll spend the dry season with, and you have Serengeti, a dramatised wildlife series about life on the Serengeti plains. Ferndale’s juicy drama is nothing compared to the animal love triangles, sibling rivalry and terrifying power struggles of the animals of the Serengeti. With nature footage provided by the BBC Earth team and storylines worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy (Bakari the baboon’s grief for his lost love will cut you to the core), Serengeti is the ostrich-heavy soap you never knew you needed.

Animal Weapons is Killing Eve… for elephants

That you, Villanelle? (Photo: TVNZ)

Many of us have weird things growing off our bodies, but do we engage our sebaceous cysts and third nipples in a fight to the death? Sadly, no, but perhaps we should take our lead from the animal kingdom. Animal Weapons reminds us that survival is for the fittest, and the fittest had better have a strong set of antlers or a giant tongue, or they’re screwed. This documentary follows creatures who use their natural weapons in “epic battles to gore, crush and batter”, and sure, it’s not like anyone’s being stabbed in the eye with a poisoned hairpin a la Killing Eve, but you know, tusks can leave a mark.  

Ten Billion is Eat Well For Less… for the entire planet

Is that… Ten Billion? Look, they don’t all work (Photo: TVNZ)

We might not want to acknowledge that Earth will officially crap itself when it reaches a population of 10 billion, just like we might not realise that spending $350 a week on takeaways is neither healthy or economical. Sometimes you need a reality check to jolt you into action, and Ten Billion is the documentary equivalent of Mike van der Elzen and Ganesh Raj storming into your kitchen and helping you save a million dollars each year just by buying a different brand of rice. Ten Billion is a bleak but necessary reminder that change starts with us, and also perhaps a lovely fresh couscous salad whipped up in only 10 minutes at $3.04 per family member.


This content was created in paid partnership with TVNZ. Learn more about our partnerships here.



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