There are some four million kinds of animals and plants. Four million different solutions to the problems of staying alive. This is the story of how a few of them came to be as they are.
There is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than with any other animal I know. Their sight, their hearing, their sense of smell are so similar to ours that they see the world in much the same way as we do. We live in the same sort of social groups with largely permanent family relationships. They walk around on the ground as we do, though they are immensely more powerful than we are. So if there were ever a possibility of escaping the human condition and living imaginatively in another creature's world, it must be with the gorilla.
The polar regions are more hostile to life than any other part of the Earth. Human beings have little natural protection against the cold, so why, for thousands of years, have we endured the hardships that come from living here? And what keeps us coming back today, to the farthest extremes of our planet?
Why should there be such a dazzling variety? And how can we make sense of such a huge range of living organisms? 200 years ago, a man was born who was to explain this astonishing diversity of life. In doing so, he revolutionised the way in which we see the world and our place in it. His name was Charles Darwin.
In 50 years of programme making I've been lucky enough to explore the living world in all its splendor and complexity.
Now I'm off to explore the origins of all this. To look for the very first living creatures that appeared on the planet.
Chimpanzees can show great kindness and compassion. Sharing. Experimenting. Empathy. Planning. Intelligence. Teaching, and learning. Behaviour so characteristic of us higher primates. We are the most inventive and innovative of all primates. Just one branch of a large and extended family. A family which has refined the ability to develop and pass on individual learning to the next generation. A family which is built on strong bonds between mother and baby. A family with which we share so much.
I have had the fortune to meet some of the planet's most enchanting creatures. But some stand out more than others because of their intriguing biology. Our knowledge of some of these creatures extends back centuries. Others we've discovered more recently.