The BBC will work with Richard Branson’s Virgin Oceanic Five Dives expedition to produce a theatrical film and TV series.

The Virgin Oceanic initiative is to use a single-seater submarine to make the dives over the next two years to the deep areas of the world’s five oceans.

Top end cameras will be used to capture 3D Imax-quality footage.

Branson will also serve as executive producer of the film, which will be made by BBC Earth.

Areas set for filming include Mariana Trench in the Pacific, the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic, the Molloy Deep in the Arctic, the South Sandwich Trench in the Southern Ocean and the Diamantina in the Indian Ocean.

“The theatrical potential of this project is incredible, the story of human endeavor and exploration, the wonder of new discovery. This is set to be our greatest film project yet,” said Amanda Hill, managing director of BBC Earth.

Branson said: “BBC Earth is the ideal media partner for Virgin Oceanic’s Five Dives project. Key to our expedition is taking our discoveries and story to the world and they are the world-leaders in natural history film.”

Neil Nightingale, creative director of BBC Earth, added: “Ninety four per cent of all known life is aquatic and this expedition will uncover never-seen behaviour and footage. Quite simply we don’t yet know exactly what we will find, but it’s potentially the most exciting project a wildlife filmmaker could work on.”