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September 20, 2014

The voice of Oprah rules over all 'Life' on Earth

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Nov 9th 2009 3:01PM
Oprah Winfrey (not the lizard) is narrating BBC's Life.Oprah Winfrey is all over the news these days as she fires up her new network and considers moving her talk show from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Now, we get to listen to her narrate the epic BBC nature series, Life. Subtitled by the BBC with, "The Definitive Exploration of the Adaptability and Diversity of Life on Earth," the eleven-part series examines evolution and the behaviors that animals devised to live, thrive and survive. Discovery Channel is bringing it your way in March after Oprah vocalizes a bit.

I know the BBC has done this sort of thing before. In fact, no one does it better. But this time around, they're using state-of-the-art high-definition filming techniques.

But why is Oprah necessary? I have nothing particularly against the woman. Despite her massive media pull, I manage to more or less steer clear of her estrogen fest. But, the BBC production comes pre-narrated with world-famous naturalist, Sir David Attenborough. Is over-dubbing necessary?

You know Attenborough's voice. If you've watched any nature shows on BBC, you must've heard it. I'll venture a guess you understood it just fine. So why the switch to Oprah? Maybe we should ask the network.

"We are honored to have Oprah Winfrey tell the story of what is already a visual masterpiece," said John Ford, President and General Manager of Discovery Channel. "The stories capture your imagination, curiosity and emotion as you see animals and plants up close and personal – each story more amazing. Ms. Winfrey will be the perfect complement to this blue-chip natural history television event."

In the end, a voice is a voice. Considering the show took more than four years in the making, filmed over 3,000 days, across every continent, this is going to be worth watching.

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Andor

Funny to hear you people. I have the exact opposite problem. Living outside of the US, it's hard to find a copy of Planet Earth or Life without David Attenbrough. I'd love to trade in my copy of Planet Earth with Attenbrough for Mrs. Weaver. Nothing against Mr. Attenbrough, quite the contrary, but his voice is so British it annoys the hell out of me. Yes, that is my handicap, I realize that, but why not give people a choice just because they happen to be in a certain location?

I almost picked up a copy of the BR disc of Life in London this weekend, but decided to see if I could get a US copy when I'm in New York next month. But I'm afraid it will be region coded and I'm going to be stuck with Mr. Attenbrough all over again.

Don't know why with all this data space available, the producers of DVDs and Blu Rays just don't give a choice to their customers who will always have different language preferences. They already deliberately mutilate their discs by region coding them in order to protect commercial interests. Why then not give people a choice in audio and subtitle tracks? They have the material, why not just put it on there?

What do they care if I want to hear German or Spanish, or British or American? It is the 21st century. Why should my only option to hear Mrs. Weaver or Mrs. Winfrey be to download an illegal rip? I just don't get it. :-S

December 20 2009 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jenn

I just want to point out Discovery Channel made a similar move with Planet Earth, it came pre-recorded with David Attenborough as the narrator but when Discovery Channel put it on TV or on DVD it was narrated by a woman (no clue who she was). I have to say when it's on TV we have no choice but to listen to whoever DIscover Channel chooses, but when it comes out on DVD, just like with Planet Earth, I'll be buying the copy put out by the BBC (with David Attenborough). When you love biology and watch these documentaries often, there's just something about David Attenborough's voice that makes it what it is. It wouldn't be the same without him I don't think. Obviously Discovery hired Oprah so that they could get some discounted advertising on her show. Attenborough is genuine and has been doing this for years.

November 12 2009 at 10:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jenn's comment
Jenn

Sorry I didn't fully read the other comments before I posted mine so I basically repeated what you guys were saying. I apologize lol
So in short, I agree. David Attenborough can be dubbed over, but the real fans will buy the good one on DVD anyway. Not the Oprah-endorsed, probably 1/2 the proceeds going to her charity DVD set.

November 12 2009 at 10:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Miss Jones

Rumor, or gossip, has it that Oprah is working on a network deal with the Discovery Health Channel. Could this possibly be a reason? Sounds plausible to me. Anyway, the content of the series will out weigh the "voice" of the narrator.

November 10 2009 at 7:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dukrous

As much as I enjoy Sigorney Weaver's work, I looked high and low for Planet Earth with David Attenborough's voice over. It really is a hell of a difference since Attenborough brings a totally different read to the narrative that wasn't there during the episodes aired by Discovery Channel.

November 09 2009 at 4:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AnneLaurie

Sir David Attenborough is ananthema to the creationists -- second only on their Big Hate List behind Richard Dawkins. The BBC is replacing his voice with Oprah's, as they replaced his voice on Planet Earth with Sigourney Weaver's, so that the minority of religious bigots won't boycott the series. Understandable, yet tragic.

November 09 2009 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to AnneLaurie's comment
David S

At the same time, any creationist would know that Attenborough wrote the text SW or OW spoke, and he's still in the credits. If they want to boycott Attenborough, then they have to boycott the Discovery channel version as well.

But at long as the BBC releases a Blu-Ray version with Attenborough's voice in the US, I'll be happy.

November 09 2009 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RobynM

I have to wonder if they realize there will be people boycotting it because they replaced Sir David, and especially so since they did it to appease religious extremists.

It's a pity, really.

November 10 2009 at 3:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan

This kind of thing annoys me. David Attenborough's an absolute legend; he basically pioneered the modern documentary and his voice has become synonymous with quality BBC documentaries. I think it's very unfortunate that he keeps getting dubbed-over in the US (although I heard the box-sets tend to keep his narration?)

Anyway, it's ridiculous. DA's involvement is a major selling point of these doc's for me and many others, so the BBC should put their foot down and refuse to have it re-voiced. Sigourney Weaver and Oprah Winfrey are just hired larynxes -- DA has both the perfect voice for this kind of thing, AND he's a world-renowned naturalist as you say. Pity. You haven't experienced Planet Earth, The Blue Planet, Life, et al, until you've heard it as intended by the filmmakers.

November 09 2009 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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