Deep Dive Australia’s Lizzie Daly Talks New Series

Explorer and wildlife biologist Lizzie Daly takes viewers on a journey across Australia’s coasts and through its deep, ancient waters in Deep Dive Australia, which premiered on Love Nature in December and expanded its reach to Sky Nature in February. The new series is a study on making nature content pop, what guiding principles can help content with this focus achieve market success and how to discuss pressing conservation issues while maintaining a hopeful appeal.

The 3×50-minute Deep Dive Australia, which mixes exploration and adventure with environmental awareness, is produced by Big Wave Productions. “I first met Big Wave Productions at a wildlife film festival in the U.S. back in 2018,” remembers Daly. “Big Wave has a strong reputation for producing marine-based natural history documentaries for channels such as Disney and National Geographic. As someone who is deeply connected to the ocean, we definitely aligned, and so when I heard about a marine adventure series that also combines scientists and conservation work across Australia, I knew it would be a great fit.”

Daly notes that Love Nature was quick to support and greenlight the series, as the show’s approach aligned with the commissioner’s goal to create awareness around serious conservation issues through hope and optimism.

The series sees presenter Daly take a road trip of extremes, traveling from the tropical reefs of North Queensland to the cold-water shores of South Australia to the wild currents of Western Australia. Along the way, she meets with those who risk it all to better understand and protect this part of the Earth, including marine biologists and Indigenous park rangers. The experts explain how the increasing presence of people, climate change and other factors have caused huge negative impacts on the local wildlife—and what can be done to help.

In terms of mapping out the series, Daly explains, “Before writing began, the Big Wave team and I spoke to a lot of scientists and conservationists working in every corner of the continent. It soon became clear that there were three very different coasts with contrasting challenges and opportunities for the wildlife living there.”

With so much ground to cover, planning narrative arcs for the series proved complex and was not without its surprises. “You can plan, produce and script all you like,” she adds, but “Australia is definitely a continent off-script. It’s a raw, wild landscape full of incredible marine life.”

A focus of the series is how humans and climate change have been negatively impacting much of the wildlife and nature that are explored. Balancing the light and the dark—giving viewers nuggets of hope along with the facts—is important for market appeal. “The key is to show the audience why they should care,” says Daly.

“You can’t tell people about coral reef bleaching without showing them the Great Barrier Reef’s vibrancy and wonder; you can’t dismantle the fear around sharks without coming face to face with 40 of them at once,” Daly explains. “There was a lot of opportunity in this series to show the ‘light.’ Only when you’ve built up that relationship with the viewer can you present the reality of the situation.”

Since climate change is a topic at the top of viewers’ minds these days, tapping the right presenter for nature-focused content is crucial so that the correct balance can be struck. Daly insists that passion and genuine knowledge are key. “Being a scientist gives me invaluable skills that I can take on-screen and into a production,” she says. “Whether that’s being able to translate complex science, to think critically or to build up trust with other scientists being interviewed, I think it’s important for the viewer to feel that genuine passion and knowledge from you as a host.”

Daly asserts that diverse on-screen representation is important, too: “People stereotype a scientist as an older man with a beard in a lab coat, when a scientist can also be a young woman who is highly adventurous. We should celebrate more scientists, particularly female scientists, on-screen to help bridge that gap and break down these stereotypes.”

So, why is a series like Deep Dive Australia so important? Daly says, “While scientific research builds the foundation of our understanding of the state of nature, unfortunately, a publication just won’t have the same impact as a new series that could reach millions overnight. Blending these two worlds, in my opinion, is the best way to have a real impact.”

Australia’s waters are some of the most rich and diverse in the world, home to countless species and habitats. In terms of whether there’s more to come for Deep Dive Australia, Daly hints, “There may be conversations around a series two happening as we speak.”