There is more to Netflix than movies, TV series, and the company’s own original shows. The service also offers a vast number of engrossing documentaries (including some of our favorite BBC documentaries).
The problem? It’s not very easy to find them. Sure, you can use Netflix’s secret codes, but the streaming service’s search tools are woefully inadequate. That’s why so many people love awesome third-party sites like Flixable.
However, not even Flixable will let you search by TV network. For example, there’s no way to find shows that originally aired on FOX or NBC. When watching documentaries, this is an issue. For every amazing documentary on the app, there are five low-budget shows you’d never want to watch.
Given the fact that the BBC is one of the leading documentary makers in the world, let’s take a look at seven of the best BBC documentaries you should watch on Netflix.
1. Planet Earth
Planet Earth is one of the most recognizable BBC documentaries. It took five years to film and was first aired in 2006. At the time, it was the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned and was the first to be broadcast in high definition.
Narrated by the world-famous David Attenborough, the 11 episodes take viewers into almost every conceivable environment on the planet. They feature the two poles, mountain ranges, vast cave systems, the sea and the seabed, the jungle, and many more places in between.
Planet Earth received numerous awards on both sides of the Atlantic, including “Best Non-Fiction Series” at the Primetime Emmy Awards and three prizes at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
The BBC is responsible for some of the highest-quality wartime documentaries ever made. We’ll cover two in this list.
The first one worth mentioning is Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution. The Final Solution is the English translation of Endlösung; the term coined by Heinrich Himmler to describe the Nazi’s 12-year persecution of Jewish people. More commonly, it’s used to refer to the internment of Jews in the concentration camps after 1942.
The six-part documentary provides the story of Auschwitz by using interviews with former inmates and guards, original footage, and faithful CGI recreations of the buildings discussed. It first aired in 2005.
If you enjoy war-related content, Netflix offers several fascinating films about World War II.
The BBC first broadcast Gypsy Child Traffickers in the UK in 2011.
The one-part, hour-long documentary takes a dive into the murky world of Britain’s gypsy child beggars. As is quickly revealed in the show, several of them spend almost all day, every day on the street in return for just a couple of hundred pounds.
The show was originally aired as part of the BBC’s long-running Panorama series, but it was so popular that the network quickly spun it off into its own standalone documentary.
With shows like Narcos glamorizing the on-going drug war in Mexico and parts of South America, it’s easy to forget about the people who have to live with the brutal reality every day.
The 12-Year-Old Cocaine Smuggler takes us back to Bolivia in 2005. It tells the story of a young girl who was sentenced to a year in prison for breaking Bolivia’s widely-despised 1008 anti-narcotics law.
Shockingly, the girl had already spent time behind bars. She lived in prison with her mother when she was just six.
The documentary, which the crew filmed over seven months, moves on to look at how the then-incoming Bolivian president Evo Morales approached the 1008 law and changed the lives of those it affected.
5. Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial
The second World War II documentary on this list is Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial.
The Nuremberg trials took place in 1945 and 1946 and had the task of bringing the surviving Nazi leadership to justice for the atrocities they committed during the six-year conflict.
The documentary consists of three one-hour shows. They concentrate on the trials of Albert Speer, Hermann Göring, and Rudolf Hess. The show uses a docudrama format, mixing archive footage with a dramatic re-enactment of the events.
It was first shown on the BBC in 2006 to mark the 60-year anniversary of the trials.
6. Human Planet
For our sixth entry, we return to nature. Human Planet looks at the relationship between the human species and our environment.
A central theme of the show is our species’ adaptability. The footage covers eight locations -– oceans, deserts, the Arctic, jungles, mountains, grasslands, rivers, and cities -– in eight one-hour-long episodes. The opening gambit of the show, narrated by John Hurt, sets the tone for the content.
Only one creature has carved a life for itself in every habitat on Earth. That creature is us. All over the world we still use our ingenuity to survive in the wild places far from the city lights — face to face with raw nature. This is the Human Planet.
During the three-year filming process, the crew recorded more than 70 individual stories across 40 countries.
KKK: The Fight for White Supremacy is an investigative documentary. It looks at the history, present-day reality, and future of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
The show was first broadcast in 2015. During the filming, members of the KKK who agreed to be interviewed discussed their belief in the supremacist ideology and explained why they thought a race war was on the horizon.
They even tell interviewer Dan Murdoch that they are in the midst of a revival, with membership numbers in the United States’ deep south skyrocketing.
The show makes especially gripping viewing considering what has happened in the US over the last couple of years.
Which BBC Documentaries Do You Love?
We’ve introduced you to seven of the best BBC documentaries you can watch on Netflix right now. They cover a broad range of subjects, so you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.
Which BBC documentaries have you seen on Netflix? Which BBC documentaries would you love to see Netflix add to the service? Leave your recommendations in the comments below.
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