“Damming the Nile” – the first BBC News Virtual Reality documentary

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The Nile is the world’s longest river, and it’s where the world’s first war over water could be fought. The BBC launched its Virtual Reality App with this first-ever for BBC News: a two-part VR documentary called Damming the Nile which takes viewers on a deeply immersive journey down the Blue Nile from its source to the sea with the BBC’s Africa Correspondent Alastair Leithead and his team, as they investigate the downstream impact of a massive new hydroelectric dam Ethiopia is building across the Blue Nile.

Egypt is seething as it sees Ethiopia’s threat to its water as a threat to its sovereignty. Sudan is in the middle of a geopolitical struggle for regional power and influence.

Flying high above the river and its waterfalls, you inspect the dam up close, hear from the people in cafes, and the politicians in the interview room, as Leithead grills the ministers fighting their countries’ corners. You’ll visit ancient Sudanese pyramids and take a balloon ride over Luxor to explore the ancient history, and learn about the changing fortunes on this great river.

Damming the Nile was awarded the European Broadcasting Union’s 2018 Rose d’Or for AR&VR.

Download the app in the Oculus Store or if you have a cardboard viewer watch part one and part two on YouTube.

Visit the BBC’s new site bbc.com/virtualreality to find out how to view this very different take approach to Virtual Reality film-making.


As well as producing the VR documentary, Alastair Leithead and his team also produced digital 360 content, TV and radio pieces and a TV documentary.

Damming the Nile: Explore with 360 video

A new dam on the Nile could trigger a war over water – unless Ethiopia can agree a deal with Egypt and Sudan.

See the video Here

Alastair Leithead BBC Africa Documentaries, Watch them here

The making of ‘Damming the Nile’ in 360

In this behind-the-scenes video, BBC Africa correspondent Alastair Leithead explains how and why 360 news production is different to traditional filmmaking.

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