BBC Earth Experience: Children and adults will love this 360 degree encounter with giant hairy bisons
When the BBC decided to site their Earth Experience in Earl’s Court it must have been aware of the interesting juxtaposition of building a tribute to the natural world in the middle of what is largely a building site.
But with London space at a premium, this is what it is, and finding a venue that could fit hundreds of giant multi-angle screen the size of a five storey building must have been a challenge to say the least.
Produced in partnership with BBC studios, Moon Eye Productions and Live Nation, BBC Earth Experience promises “an interactive 360-audio-visual exhibition that comes with bespoke narration from David Attenborough”.
It features footage from the iconic BBC Studios Natural History Unit television series Seven Worlds, One Planet and the 1608 metre-squared venue is demountable, meaning it can be moved around the country.
The high-tech event also intends to be sustainable – the screens uses recyclable and reusable material while the projectors are powered by renewable energy and the huge screens are made of cotton.
The entrance to the experience promises a grand event, it is a large impressive walkway with soothing sounds of nature, birdsong and cicadas; although this may go missed if you are visiting on a rainy day and simply want to rush your children into somewhere warm and dry.
I did feel a lump in my throat as we went through the entrance where the dulcet tones of Attenborough and his narration echo around a huge room full of screens onto which nature’s finest is projected in giant glory.
It is the equivalent of a visual bullet between the eyes at first, but my eyes soon adjusted to the pure cinema of the experience.
All the action, where whales, then shoals of fish, then hairy European Bisons ten times their usual size, takes place in one central auditorium, although there are three other break out areas.
The speed with which the display changes scenery can be overwhelming, although breath taking, but thankfully there is some sanctuary via a balcony which snakes around part of the room.
In one ‘corner’ – the Vista stage – drone footage takes you flying through dessert, mountains and oceans, I was transfixed for several minutes; indeed if you are feeling stressed or out of sorts this part of the experience is probably the most ‘out of body’ but grounding of the event.
The insect room wasn’t quite as scary as it could have been. I’m not sure how long it would entertain my nine year old, who is scared of spiders but probably wouldn’t really be impressed by the close ups.
If we are to grow a deeper appreciation of our planet, having nature presented in such a spectacular way can only do some good.
The end of the experience – where a hologram projection of the planet in space – accompanies a message from Attenborough, warning us of the need to ‘take care’ of our home or face losing its beauty.
It is huge and dramatic – just what kids want – but the beauty of nature and the creatures that make our earth so wonderful is in its subtlety, its “small stuff”.
But now I’m overthinking this in a boring Gen X way because my children, when I take them, will love it. After all what’s not to love about giant hairy bisons, running after each other and having fun in the place they thrive the best – the wild.
The BBC Earth Experience is at The Daikin Centre, Earl’s Court, London. Tickets are on sale now from £22 for children and £28.50 for adults from www.bbcearthexperience.com