Nat Geo Unveils Slate With 9/11 Doc Series, ‘Explorer’ Reboot & Bobby Bones Travelogue, Renews ‘Gordon Ramsay: Unchartered’ & Pushes ‘Genius: Aretha’ To Fall

A major new 9/11 documentary series, a reboot of Explorer and a travelogue from American Idol’s Bobby Bones lead Nat Geo’s latest slate as the factual giant forges ahead with its 2020/21 schedule.

The Disney-owned broadcaster revealed a number of new titles, a slew of feature doc additions and the renewal of Gordon Ramsay: Unchartered.

It has also set a tentative fall plan for its Genius: Aretha, the Cynthia Erivo-fronted drama that was delayed due to the COVID-19 production shutdown.

9/11 comes from Undefeated and LA 92 filmmakers Dan Lindsay and T.J Martin, who have teamed up with British production company 72 Films on the six-part series. The series, which is planned to mark 20 years since the terrorist attacks, has already been in production for overs two years, featuring never-seen-before archival footage and new eyewitness witnesses of the event.

Nat Geo is working closely with its new sister companies ABC News and Lincoln Square Productions to reboot its Explorer series. The series, which looks at expeditions around the globe and groundbreaking scientific, technological and historical discoveries, ran for over 20 years before ending in 2011. It was reboot in 2015 with Richard Bacon before running through to 2017 with Phil Keoghan. The company is planning a multi-platform reboot with ABC News talent acting as on-air guides.

It has also commissioned Breaking Bobby Bones (w/t) featuring the radio personality and American Idol mentor. The 16-part show, which is produced by BBC Studios, will see him travel to far-flung destinations across the country to find people with unique jobs, skills, hobbies and abilities, who will challenge him to conquer the tricks of their trades.

These shows will join previously announced titles including eight-part competition series Race To The Center of the Earth and Trafficked With Mariana Van Zeller. Both series are finished; Race To The Center of the Earth, from the producers behind The Amazing Race, will air in fall 2020 with Trafficked airing in January 2021.

Also finished and set to air in April 2021 is Planet of the Whales, a four-part blue chip doc series from National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry and Red Rock Films’ Brian Armstrong and Shannon Malone-DeBenedictis.

Genius: Aretha, which comes from Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Clive Davis, Fox 21 Television Studios, has been set for fall 2020 after production on the Aretha Franklin drama was shutdown, halting its previous May premiere plan.

Elsewhere, Gordon Ramsay: Unchartered comes back for a ten-part third season. It joins Running Wild with Bear Grylls and Brain Games, which were both renewed in January 2020.

Finally, the network has set a number of feature doc premieres. Sebastian Junger’s narcos doc Blood on the Wall, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Rebuilding Paradise, about the firestorm that engulfed California in 2018, and Saudi Runaway, which follows a young woman who documents her flight to freedom, will air in the fall, while Torn, which sees Max Lowe explore the death of his father, legendary climber Alex Lowe, will air in winter.

“People’s understanding of the world around them has been shaken. And they are coming to National Geographic in record numbers, I believe, because particularly in times of uncertainty, people flock to brands that they trust. And National Geographic is one of the most trusted and beloved brands in the world,” said National Geographic Global Television Networks President Courteney Monroe. “When it comes to our television programming, we are doubling down on what we do best, which is to deliver premium, creatively ambitious programming that connects audiences to the world around them, satisfies their curiosity and transports them to places they may otherwise never go.”

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