The six-part docuseries Human Playground, from Banijay companies Scenery (the Netherlands) and Workerbee (the U.K.), is slated to launch on Netflix on September 30.
Narrated by Idris Elba, the series explores the origin and evolution of exceptional sports around the world, from centuries-old rituals to billion-dollar businesses. It dives into the worlds of robot camel races in the United Arab Emirates, eagle hunting in Kyrgyzstan, big wave surfing in Portugal and more.
The idea for the series began in the form of a book by creator Hannelore Vandenbussche, who was inspired during her work as the assistant photographer on the photo-book Before they pass away. She then made it her mission to portray the world’s most special sports. An exclusive coffee table photo-book published by TeNeues will accompany the series.
Tomas Kaan (editor of BBC Earth and Our Planet) directed Human Playground, and Elba served as an executive producer.
The docuseries is the first Dutch-produced documentary series to launch worldwide on Netflix. Later this year, it will also launch on the Chinese streamer Youku.
“Human Playground takes a look at the most impressive playing fields in the world and shows how far people are willing to go when it comes to playing a game,” Vandenbussche said. “Human Playground is not just about sports, it’s about what makes us human.”
“I knew we had something to grab when we decided to use play as a lens to examine ourselves—the playing human being,” said Kaan. “However, I could not have imagined in advance how many sides this story has to it. All those smells and colors, emotions and cultures. Blood and sweat splashing against the lens. Human Playground was an unforgettable adventure in every way.”
Isidoor Roebers, producer of Human Playground and founder of Scenery, said, “After four years of shooting under all kinds of conditions in 25 countries during a pandemic, we are extremely proud of the end result of this Netflix docuseries. The thought that this series will soon be shown all over the world still feels unreal.”
Rick Murray, executive producer and managing director of Workerbee, added, “When Scenery introduced us to this project, it felt like a perfect fit for Idris as narrator and for Netflix. We are delighted to have helped get the project off the ground. The team in Amsterdam are world-class, and we hope to work with them again in the not-too-distant future.”