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As an award-winning wildlife filmmaker Neil has worked in many of the wildest corners of our planet, sharing his passion for the natural world with millions of people globally.

Date posted: 07 May 2024, 11:00am

Article length: 8 minutes

For several years Neil was head of the prestigious BBC Natural History Unit, responsible for projects like Planet Earth, Life and Springwatch.

Later, as Creative Director of BBC Earth, he produced and directed many pioneering wildlife films for Giant Screen theatres and the cinema, including the BBC’s blockbuster family movie, Walking With Dinosaurs. His programmes and films have won awards at many international film festivals, including the BAFTAs and Emmys. 

Together with his wife Karen, he is the owner of Ca Na Bennassar, a spacious and elegantly refurbished house we exclusively manage for him in Pollensa, Mallorca. 

This brief interview provides us with the opportunity to get to know you better and pay tribute to your house, sharing a glimpse of its history and spreading a slice of its soul among our community. Read our complete interview with Neil below.

Neil Nightingale: An Award Winning Filmmaker, Owner and Partner

It appears that your fascination with nature dates back to your childhood, leading you to pursue a zoology degree at Oxford University and subsequently travel to the wildest corners of our planet to film and witness it. What initially brought you to Mallorca, and what continues to captivate you there?

I first came to Mallorca many years ago while working on a BBC television series with David Attenborough called The First Eden, about the natural and human history of the Mediterranean. The wild nature of the Tramuntana Mountains plunging directly into the sea, that we filmed back then, continues to be a source of inspiration for me. Especially as we can see some of the peaks directly from our house! 

Is there a particular place on the island where you experience its essence most fully, and that you particularly love?

There is a gentle walk through a beautiful valley just 15 minutes from our home, to a wild place called L’Havanor. It winds through a landscape of vineyards, ancient gnarled olives and natural forest, surrounded by impressively jagged peaks and strange rock formations.  Eventually it leads to a wild refuge close to the sea, home to rare Black Vultures. I think this place captures the soul of wild Mallorca, with an added bonus – the vineyard of Mortitx lies at the start of the walk. So on the return you can stop for a tasting. As with all the vineyards close to our home, the wines are very good – we know them well!

What are some of your wild highlights in Mallorca?

Perhaps one of my greatest wild surprises was my first dive in Pollensa Bay. I really didn’t know what to expect, but along the Formentor Peninsula, only a 10 minute boat ride from port, I was surrounded by large shoals of swirling fish and rich seagrass meadows. It was a wonderful wildlife experience. On calm days Karen and I also take our canoe along the rugged and unspoilt west coast of the peninsula from Cala San Vicente. From sea level the massive cliffs truly inspire a sense of awe. 

Neil Nightingale: An Award Winning Filmmaker, Owner and Partner

Did you choose the name of your house, or does it hold a special meaning for you?

The name Bennassar was given to the house by the family that originally built it. It’s a Balearic surname with Moorish origins dating back many centuries. Probably the most famous citizen of Pollensa with that name was the 20th century artist Dionis Bennassar. He painted evocative landscapes of mountains, sea and countryside, including one particular favourite of ours – a country house surrounded by almond trees in blossom, which reminds us very much of our own home.

Neil Nightingale: An Award Winning Filmmaker, Owner and Partner

Can you share your favourite nook within your property?

Our large balcony is a fabulous place to share a relaxed evening cocktail, on the comfortable outdoor sofas. From here we look out over the countryside towards the setting sun, with beautiful views of the Tramuntana Mountains. Karen also loves her deep bath beside a large window at the front of the house, where you can soak while enjoying views over the orchard to the peaks of the Formentor Peninsula beyond.

Neil Nightingale: An Award Winning Filmmaker, Owner and Partner

Lastly, has any aspect of the house encouraged any new passions?

Gardening! It’s lovely to have a large and varied garden and we’ve become passionate about developing it with plants suitable for the Mediterranean climate. Karen has created a number of pretty succulent gardens and we’ve recently planted more olive, almond and citrus trees. The garden’s important for us as we spend so much time outdoors. We find that being able to rest, swim or dine surrounded by colourful flowers and plants is very relaxing. Of course, it also changes through the seasons.

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