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The Silk Spinners 

Silk is the secret weapon of the undergrowth. From the protective stalks of lacewing eggs, to the hanging threads of glow-worms, insects use it in an amazing variety of ways. Silk is ... See full summary »
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Episode credited cast:
David Attenborough ... Himself - Narrator
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Silk is the secret weapon of the undergrowth. From the protective stalks of lacewing eggs, to the hanging threads of glow-worms, insects use it in an amazing variety of ways. Silk is stronger than a steel thread of the same diameter but, unlike steel, it's elastic. Witness the spiders who have taken the use of this extraordinary material to its extremes. Written by Anonymous

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Documentary

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TV-G | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

7 December 2005 (UK) See more »

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In the undergrowth of silk
18 March 2018 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

David Attenborough is nothing short of a national treasure. He may apparently dislike the term, but it is hard to not say that about such a great presenter who has contributed significantly to some of the best programmes (of the documentary genre and overall) the BBC has ever aired/produced.

It is really hard picking favourites, let alone a definite favourite, among what Attenborough has done because he has done so many gems, it is the equivalent of trying to choose your favourite ice cream flavour or your favourite operatic role (for examples) and finding you can't pick. To me though, 'Life in the Undergrowth' is up there with his crowning achievements and one of the best documentaries ever viewed, and as has been said already there are a lot of great ones. Also for a documentary exploring insects/invertebrates 'Life in the Undergrowth' is very much ground-breaking. It has everything that makes so much of his work so wonderful, hence some of the reiteration of my recent reviews for some of his work (being on a nature documentary binge in my spare time), and deserves everything great that has been said about it.

"The Silk Spinners" is another fine example of what makes 'Life in the Undergrowth' as good as it is. A lot of content is covered in typical Attenborough fashion, but it doesn't feel over-stuffed or under-explored.

First and foremost, "The Silk Spinners" looks amazing. It is gorgeously filmed, done in a completely fluid and natural, sometimes intimate (a great way of connecting even more with the invertebrates), way and never looking static. In fact much of it is remarkably cinematic with some of the shots being unique for a documentary series, making one forget that it is a series. The editing is always succinct and smooth and the scenery is pure magic, similarly really admired the wide-ranging diversity of the different landscapes rather than restricting it to just one habitat. The music score fits very well, never overly grandiose while never being inappropriate.

Again, like so many Attenborough nature/wildlife documentaries and their individual episodes, "The Silk Spinners" fascinates, teaches, moves, entertains and transfixes. In terms of the facts there was a very good mix of the known ones and the unknown, some facts being familiar to us while going into detail about the different invertebrates.

Invertebrates give me the heebie jeebies on the most part, but still found myself learning a lot about them, how they behaved and adapted and why on top of having misconceptions about them explored and cleared up. Despite still not being a fan, found myself appreciating them more.

Narration by Attenborough helps significantly. He clearly knows his stuff and knows what to say and how to say it. He delivers it with his usual richness, soft-spoken enthusiasm and sincerity, never talking down to the viewer and keeping them riveted and wanting to know more.

The invertebrates are wide in range and big in personality. The conflict has genuine tension and suspense, there is some fun and a lot of emotionally powerful moments done with a lot of tear-jerking pathos. Found myself really caring for what we're told.

None of it is episodic or a stringing of scenes, feeling like its own story instead, a consistent strength of Attenborough's work.

Altogether, wonderful. 10/10 Bethany Cox


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