Next on my list during Melly’s Fan Week…..Sir David Attenborough….Can you believe that this brilliant man is 84 years old?
I first started watching him on the “Life” series & “Living Planet” doco with my Dad when I was a little girl in the 80s. Under his influence, my love & respect for animals and the environment was nutured and I became a ‘Greenpeace Warrior’!
Sir David Attenborough was born in London in 1926. He has two brothers and two sisters (who his parents adopted after WWII). His elder brother is the well known actor and director Lord Richard Attenborough. David received a degree in Natural Sciences, married Jane in 1950 and had 2 kids (his son Dr Robert Attenborough is a lecturer at Australian National Uni in Canberra). He was Knighted by the Queen in 1985.
His defining career, as we know it, began after he left the Navy and joined the BBC as a producer (his employers discouraged him from appearing in front of the camera because he had big teeth). Through his work at the BBC he met a curator at the London Museum and they collaborated on Zoo Quest which at the last minute Attenborough had to present on camera as his partner was sick. So began his brilliant career as a documentary host. He presented political broadcasts, archaeological quizzes, short stories, gardening and religious programmes. In ’64 he took over BBC2; helped introduce colour TV to Britain & brought Monty Python’s Flying Circus to the world! In ’79 he wrote & presented the 13 part Life on Earth doco-series. This doco-series changed the way Wilderness & documentary filming was done. He followed it up by Living Planet in ’84 & Trials of Life ’90. In the late ’90’s & early Noughties he made two of my favourite series Life of Birds and Life of Mammals. He continues to be actively involved in creating and presenting naturalist documentaries. He is actively involved in charity work; being patron of both World Land Trust, which buys rainforest and other lands to preserve them and the animals that live there, Optimum Population Trust, a group seeking to cut the growth in human population, and ARKive and organisation that promotes the “Conservation of the World’s Threatened Species, Through the Power of Wildlife Imagery” http://www.arkive.org/
I admire him because not only is he the ultimate professional (crawling around on his hands and knees in the insect infested mud in the Amazon, still managing to sound like a proper authoritarian) but he inspires fascination with the natural world around us. He’s intelligent, has experienced the real world, seen things only a handful of people have witnessed close up and takes a camera along for the ride; not for self-gratification but to share his knowledge of the natural world so that generations of viewers can adopt respect for our environment and put into practice actions that won’t devastate our natural surroundings but will sustain them for future generations. He’s in his 80s and still gets excited like a school boy when he sees animals and nature in its element. It’s taken me years to understand my beliefs on a spiritual level and like Sir David I am also an agnostic, so I find his beliefs and authority on things of this nature fascinating and enlightening.
He would have made one hell of a science teacher!