Top 5 Wildlife Documentaries

Katie from FXU Wild Doc Soc entices us with her top 5 must-see wildlife documentaries.

By Katie Miller


5. The Silent World

Made in 1956, this is a classic for anyone interested in marine wildlife. The ocean was a huge mystery back then, and this ground-breaking documentary brought the underwater world into cinemas, making it accessible to all, in colour, for the very first time. It’s faced criticism for its lack of care towards the animals filmed, but it’s an interesting reflection on how the conservation movement has changed and grown since then, and how attitudes towards it have changed.

4. Cowspiracy

Ever considered going veggie or vegan? Or maybe you already are and want to convince your family and friends? Either way, this documentary is an absolute sure way to convert people. Cowspiracy investigates how the food we eat, and the way we produce it, affects the planet and – spoiler alert –  it’s not good. Described as one of the most important sustainability films of recent times, Cowspiracy will change the way you think about food and open your eyes to a side of sustainable living you may not have thought about.

Planet Earth 2

What other show could have created a twitter storm over some iguanas? Planet Earth 2 is, arguably, the jewel in the crown of the BBC’s Natural History Unit recent productions. The combination of stunning film sequences, beautiful cross-global locations and, of course, the classic David Attenborough narration were always going to be a recipe for success. The backlash over the lack of hard-hitting conservation message got the show some bad press but the message was there, albeit more subtle than the producers would have liked. A small price to pay for the huge audience it reached – it became one of the most-watched nature shows of all time, with the second episode racking up 12.5 million viewers.


One of Netflix’s most popular animal documentaries, Blackfish isn’t exactly what you’d expect. It looks at a highly controversial issue – the captive keeping and breeding of a species with a huge natural range – from both the perspective of the animals, and the people who care for them.  It follows the story of Tilikum, an orca taken from the wild in the 1980s and kept in various institutions but most famously at Seaworld Orlando. It’s not only the whales who faced mistreatment at the hands of this company, but also the keepers who worked with and trained them. This is a highly thought-provoking must-see, made all the more poignant by Tilikum’s death last year.

1. Blue Planet 2

A modern David Attenborough classic just about clinches the top spot; filmed over several years, modern technology allowed the crew to bring us never before seen footage – such as the deepest-living fish on record. The stunning underwater seascapes and fascinating animals make it a crowd-pleaser with, again, excellent viewing ratings, but it must also be praised for bringing the issue of plastic pollution to the public eye, putting pressure on the government to bring in a new ‘Plastic-Free in 25 years’ pledge.

Who are Wild Doc Soc?

We are interested in all things to do with wildlife documentaries. We host film nights every two weeks, where you might catch one of the great shows listed above, and can enjoy free snacks! We are hosting workshops where you can learn the skills necessary to make your own nature documentaries, and we also have many inspirational guest speakers come down and talk – from presenters like Michaela Strachan and Steve Backshall, to producers of big name shows like Planet Earth 2 – their insights into the film industry might show you how you can get your foot in the door! If you’re keen to get involved, check out our Facebook page –