The Life of SIR DAVID After a life-time bringing the natural world alive into our living rooms, Sir David Attenborough is arguably the world’s greatest television broadcaster. Here is a look back at an extraordinary career on screen.
ailed as the ‘Nation’s Narrator’, voted the coolest man on earth and thought to be the most travelled person in recorded human history, even at the age of 90 yearsold Sir David Attenborough shows little sign of slowing down. After taking part in a special BBC documentary celebrating his 90th year, he’s also planning a new series of Planet 2 and helped launch a new digital archive of his work spanning 50 years. But who exactly is the man with the inimitable soothing voice who’s taught generations of us about the natural world? Born in London in 1926, Sir David’s upbringing was rather more humble than many might assume. Rather than the plains of Africa or another glamorous location it was his early love of the Leicestershire countryside that sparked a life long passion for nature. Attenborough’s own father, a university lecturer at Leicester, was not wealthy enough to send his inquisitive son to university but he had a major influence on him. Sir David remembers: ‘He asked me: what is it you want to do? And he encouraged us to find out for ourselves.’
One of three boys, Sir David was not the only son to become a star. His older brother Richard became an Oscar winning film director. At a young age David collected fossils to form his own museum and later won a scholarship to study Geology and Zoology at Cambridge University. Following graduation and stint in the Navy, his first role was editing science books. But in his own words he found it ‘indescribably boring’ and applied for a radio job. After being rejected, his CV was luckily spotted and he joined the BBC full time in 1952 as producer for non- fiction broadcasts. Extraordinarily the TV star’s big break came by total accident. Originally told his teeth were too big for TV it was when the presenter of Zoo Quest, a programme about the animal collecting expeditions, fell ill that Sir David was asked to step in. Aged just 28, he teamed up with camera -man Charles Lagus, to film the series and they didn’t shy away from danger. After almost losing their lives when their boat was nearly sucked into a whirlpool on the way to a remote Indonesian island, they also took risks