Best Documentaries On BBC iPlayer To Watch In New Zealand [List Of 2023]
The BBC iPlayer is an international treasure box of awesomeness. Every time you open it up to see what’s on offer, you never know if you’re going to be fighting through a dense jungle biome of natural history, diving deep into the weird ocean depths with The Warship: Tour of Duty, or sitting down for a relaxing evening with the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off. One thing is for sure, though – whatever it is, it will be well-made and entertaining.
Best Documentaries on BBC iPlayer
We love a good documentary, which is why we have searched the depths of the archives and uncovered some incredible, shocking, and thought-provoking documentaries from around the world that are available on BBC iPlayer. You can also learn more about the free view of BBC iPlayer.
Here are the best documentaries on BBC iPlayer NZ right now:
Director: Matt Yoka
Writer: Andrea James
Cast: Marika Gerrard, Jamie Tur, Katy Tur, Zoey Tur
IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
At a time when helicopters were mainly used for military or police surveillance, a husband-and-wife team took to the sky to record and report the news. The couple’s unique approach to capturing news footage and their repertoire of images taken in and around Los Angeles is invaluable today.
While it is an unusual approach, Whirlybird has made an impact on documentary filmmaking as well as television. It’s definitely not a documentary you can pass off to your kids as just any old movie.
Totally Under Control (2020)
Director: Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunan, Suzanne Hillinger
Writer: Alex Gibney
Cast: Alex Azar, Charlie Baker, Scott Becker, Taison Bell, Deborah Birx, John Bolton, Michael Bowen, Rick Bright, Sylvia Burwell
IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
Totally Under Control made headlines by exposing the faults of America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic compared to South Korea.
The documentary looks back on years of development in the world since the first case of the virus was reported. From political campaigns to the effect on media and marketing, Gibney explores what lessons have been learned and whether new developments are likely in the future.
If you are interested in Sci-Fi genre, you must check out these best Sci-fi movies as well!
I Am Greta (2020)
Director: Nathan Grossman
Writers: Hanna Lejonqvist, Per K. Kirkegaard, Olof Berglind
Cast: Greta Thunberg, Svante Thunberg, Niclas Svenningsen, António Guterres, Kyra Gantois, Adélaide Charlier, Anuna De Wever, Emmanuel Macron
IMDb Rating: 7.7/10
“I am Greta” is about a 15-year-old girl whose activism and charisma launched her as the world’s youngest climate change activist. On December 10th, 2018, she skipped school, booked a ticket to Sweden’s capital of Stockholm, and occupied the offices of the Swedish parliament.
She refused to leave until her demands for immediate climate action were met. The documentary shows how her strike became a movement that inspired millions of young people around the world to do the same.
Director: Anthony Baxter
Writer: Richard Phinney
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Marc Edwards, Mona Hanna-Attisha, Tammy Loren, Mark Ruffalo, Scott Smith, Nakiya Wakes
IMDb Rating: 7.3/10
Recently voted one of the best BBC iPlayer documentaries 2023 by viewers and critics, Flint is a portrait of a city in crisis.
The documentary follows the challenges faced by Flint’s children, who must cope with the poisoning of their hometown’s water supply.
With its tragic yet hopeful narrative, the documentary sheds light on the cause of those challenges—and what can be done to alleviate them. This is a story of resilience, hope against all odds, social justice, and how one community is fighting back.
Into the Storm (2020)
Director: Adam Brown
Cast: Johnny Guerrero, Sofia Mulanovich, Jose Plaza, Diego Villaran
IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
Into the Storm is an uplifting documentary that follows a young Peruvian’s dream to become a professional surfer. Join Johnny Guerrero on his journey from poverty to potential stardom as the difficulty of growing up in a dangerous shoreside neighborhood is highlighted.
This touching movie will bring a tear to your eye and make you cheer for a truly inspirational youngster as he learns that you should never quit.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Director: Steve James
Writer: Steve James
Cast: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates, Curtis Gates, Sheila Agee, Arthur ‘Bo’ Agee, Earl Smith, Gene Pingatore, Isiah Thomas
IMDb Rating: 8.3/10
Hoop Dreams follows the story of two African-American boys from inner-city Chicago as they attempt to become successful basketball players.
They are frequently shown struggling to overcome financial hardships brought on by their single mothers and family members.
The documentary focuses on their lives from 9th grade all the way into high school, along with the pressures of coaches, family members, and temptations on the streets. What makes the documentary beautiful is the focus on the boys’ love for basketball, which kept them going through their tough childhoods.
When We Were Kings (1996)
Director: Leon Gast
Writer: Leon Gast
Cast: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Don King, James Brown, B. B. King, Mobutu Sese Seko, Spike Lee, Thomas Hauser
IMDb Rating: 8.0/10
When We Were Kings is a 1996 American documentary that explored the historic significance of a legendary boxing event held on October 30, 1974.
The film explores the impact of the “Rumble in the Jungle” when Muhammad Ali defeated heavyweight champion George Foreman to regain his boxing title. The documentary also highlights Muhammad Ali’s support for African independence movements that were on the rise since the 1930s and 1940s.
With a premium VPN, you can watch BBC iPlayer on PS4/PS5 in NZ and enjoy every show/movie easily.
Last Men in Aleppo (2017)
Director: Feras Fayyad, Steen Johannessen
Writer: Feras Fayyad
Cast: Khaled Umar Harah, Batul, Mahmoud, Abu Umar, Aby Husain, Abu Walid, Abu Omar, Isra, Aby Yusuf, Ahmad, Aby Sabih
IMDb Rating: 7.4/10
Last Men in Aleppo is an immersive and cinematic portrait of the three White Helmets who attempted to save lives amidst the hellish bombardment of Syrian and Russian forces. After five years at war, we follow Khaled, Mahmoud, and Subhi on a day-to-day basis as they go about their work and continue to live ordinary lives with their families.
Last Men in Aleppo paints a picture of what it means to be human in extraordinary circumstances with a remarkable focus on heroism.
Interested in Action Genre? Check out these 70 best action movies to watch in 2023!
!9/11: Inside the President’s War Room (2021)
Director: Adam Wishart
Cast: Jeff Daniels, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Peter Jennings, Mary Matalin, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Ben Sliney
IMDb Rating: 7.5/10
9/11: Inside the President’s War Room explores the events leading up to 9/11. It follows George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and his team of advisors on September 11, 2001, as they orchestrate the United States’ response to this terror attack.
It tries to determine if the President himself gave any specific order and how world leaders responded to the attacks on their homeland. It shows us the true struggles of taking critical decisions when no one really knows what is going on.
Catwalk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit (2018)
Director: Aaron Hancox, Michael McNamara
Writer: Michael McNamara
Cast: Kim Langille, Seamus, Bobby, Chance, Bob Gleason, Elaine Gleason, Shirley McCollow, Oh La La
IMDb Rating: 6.3/10
Catwalk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit is a documentary that gives us an inside look at the world of competitive cat showing.
The film offers a glimpse at the people who devote their lives to caring for cats and how they showcase their qualities in professional environments.
You’ll get to take in classic stories involving both pets and their owners, as well as odd-ball competitions, historic figures, and more. Whether you’re a fan of kittens or have grown bored of conventional cat shows, the eccentric world of competitive felines may be for you.
Apart from documentaries, we suggest switching to genre-specific movies and watching some amazing Christmas movies on BBC iPlayer in NZ.
The Social Dilemma (2020)
Director: Jeff Orlowski
Writer: Vickie Curtis, Davis Coombe, Jeff Orlowski
Cast: Tristan Harris, Jeff Seibert, Bailey Richardson, Joe Toscano, Sandy Parakilas, Guillaume Chaslot, Lynn Fox, Aza Raskin, Alex Roetter
IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
If you’re searching for the top BBC iPlayer documentaries, look no further. Science fiction meets investigative chronicles in this documentary that fuses engaging characters and dramatic storytelling with state-of-the-art surveillance and real-time online manipulation.
The Social Dilemma is a provocative, urgent exploration of the dangerous new human impact of social networking, internet TV, and Google’s Deep Mind.
With an innovative, gripping, and immersive combination of formats, director Anthony Baxter has created an intelligent deep dive into the current state of social media and its implications for our future.
Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give in (2021)
Director: Jason Ferguson
Writer: Mark Monroe
Cast: Eric Cantona, Alex Ferguson, Jason Ferguson, Ryan Giggs, Gordon Strachan, Mark Ferguson, Cathay Ferguson, Archie Knox
IMDb Rating: 8.2/10
Join Sir Alex Ferguson as he reveals the most intimate details of his remarkable life and career in a documentary that is as entertaining as it is revealing. Drawing on candid interviews with Alex, his family, and former colleagues, this film takes you behind the curtain and into the mind of one of football’s all-time greatest icons.
We suggest seeing our collection of the best movies on BBC iPlayer including all genres.
Director: Julie Cohen, Betsy West
Writer: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Martin D. Ginsburg, Gloria Steinem, Nina Totenberg
Cast: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ann Kittner, Harryette Helsel, Nina Totenberg, Arthur R. Miller, Clara Spera, Brenda Feigen
IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
RBG is an intimate documentary portrait of one of the United State’s most influential and divisive public figures – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Breathtaking and inspirational, this joyful cinematic portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reveals the passion that drives her life’s work to this very day.
This film takes you on an eye-opening journey through her career, from her groundbreaking work to her powerful impact on gender equality.
The Go-go’s (2020)
Director: Alison Ellwood
Cast: Charlotte Caffey, Elissa Bello, Belinda Carlisle, Margot Olaverra, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine, Jane Wiedlin
IMDb Rating: 7.4/10
With a collection of classic hits that sums up the best of the 80s, this documentary will give you an insight into the phenomenal rise of the Go-Gos.
Over 40 years since they first formed, they continue to be held up as examples of how women can play a central role in rock.
This documentary explores the lightning-fast rise of a band that created a zeitgeist and inspired generations with their unique blend of punk, pop, and glitter.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Lawrence D. Cohen, Mardik Martin
Cast: Catherine Scorsese, Charles Scorsese, Martin Scorsese
IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
Italian American (1974) is an Italian-American documentary film telling the story of its director’s parents’ lives through their love of food and work. It focuses on the complex cultural mix of the Italian-American neighborhood in New York and the young director’s own life back in Sicily.
Director: Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov
Writer: Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov
Cast: Hatidze Muratova, Nazife Muratova, Hussein Sam, Ljutvie Sam, Mustafa Sam, Muzafer Sam, Veli Sam, Ali Sam, Alit Sam
IMDb Rating: 8.0/10
Honeyland is one of the best BBC iPlayer documentaries of 2019, if not the decade. It is a beautifully shot observational documentary focusing on a small village in the middle of nowhere, Turkmenistan, where Hatidze Muratova and her mother, both beekeepers, live.
When a family arrives and basically turns the whole isolated area upside down, Hatidze must choose between making amends or continuing on her way regardless of the consequences it brings for her and her bees.
Seven Worlds, One Planet (2019)
Director: Giles Badger, Chadden Hunter, Emma Napper, Fredi Devas
Writer: Giles Badger, Fredi Devas, Nick Easton, Renée Godfrey, Doug Hope, Daniel Huertes, and more
Cast: David Attenborough, Peter Drost, Bertie Gregory, John Shier, Mark MacEwen, Justine Evans
IMDb Rating: 9.3/10
Watch all the episodes of the BBC documentary series Seven Worlds, One Planet and explore the journey of our planet from a whole new perspective.
You will learn about each continent’s wildlife, geography, and culture on Earth. Packed with seven spectacular natural history programs covering every continent on the planet, this collection is a homage to the incredible world we live in that can be watched at any time.
The Wolfpack (2015)
Director: Crystal Moselle
Writer: Crystal Moselle
Cast: Mukunda Angulo, Narayana Angulo, Susanne Angulo, Bhagavan Angulo, Jagadisa Angulo, Krsna Angulo, Oscar Angulo, Visnu Angulo
IMDb Rating: 7.0/10
This documentary is about the Angulo brothers, who grew up watching movies in their New York apartment and went on to star in a critically acclaimed film themselves.
The six brothers were shy outcasts from society who spent most of their time inside but were seemingly oblivious to the normal workings of the world.
They were captivated by films, which ultimately shaped their imagination and oddly dark worldviews. This led to them formulating an original idea for a movie that launched their career as actors and directors.
We suggest streaming BBC iPlayer on Roku to enhance your entertainment.
8 Days: to the Moon and Back (2019)
Director: Anthony Philipson
Writer: Philip Ralph
Cast: Patrick Kennedy, Jack Tarlton, Rufus Wright
IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
8 Days: to the Moon and Back (2019) is a feature-length documentary telling the astonishing story of Apollo 11 in a fresh audiovisual way.
Using unpublished audio and dramatic reconstruction, 8 Days will bring the story to life as never before. This is the first documentary to explain how and why Apollo 11 achieved its mission.
Audiences will be astonished and inspired by the drama and intensity of the recordings made at the time, a rare insight into the reality of space travel.
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Maradona: Blessed Dream (2021)
Director: Alejandro Aimetta, Roger Gual, Edoardo De Angelis
Writer: Alejandro Aimetta, Martín Méndez, Silvina Olschansky, Marcos Osorio Vidal, Andrés Pascaner, Guillermo Salmerón
Cast: Juan Palomino, Julieta Cardinali, Mercedes Morán, Rita Cortese, Melissa Medina, Nazareno Casero, Jean Pierre Noher, Diego Martin Vásquez
IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
The best documentaries are often those that come to define their subject from all angles – which is exactly what Maradona: Blessed Dream has done.
Through personal accounts, rare footage, and careful editing by the BBC iPlayer team, the documentary tells Diego’s story through a personal mix of live-action and graphics.
From growing up with his difficult family life to playing in Italy with Napoli and being “nationalized” by Argentina, Maradona: Blessed Dream is guaranteed to make you an avid fan from the beginning. This is considered one of the best documentaries on BBC iPlayer right now.
So, there you have it – the best documentaries on BBC iPlayer in 2023. These documentaries are pure gold and will open your eyes to the world and shine a light on some of the most important issues and inspiring stories of our time.
Have fun watching!