Sir David Attenborough| Celebrating the life and achievements of his great personality

He has one of the most recognizable voices of our time, and we’ve all definitely heard it at least once while skimming through BBC-produced nature shows. That’s because Sir David Attenborough has spent his incredibly long life devoted to presenting the natural world on television.

At the age of seven, Attenborough developed a fascination with the natural world, owning a collection of bird eggs and fossils

Birth and Early Life

Sir David Frederick Attenborough was born on May 8, 1926, in Isleworth, West London, England. Attenborough is the second of three boys. His father was Frederick Attenborough, the Principal of the University College, Leicester. His mother Mary, who was a writer, looked after the children at home; the family also fostered two Jewish refugee girls from Europe. He has two sisters: Irene Bejach and Helga Bejach. He stands at a height of 5 feet and 10 inches, his weight is unknown. Moreover, he has blue colored eyes and white-colored hair and other information about his body measurements is unknown.

In 1936 David and older brother Richard attended a lecture by Archibald Belaney at De Montfort Hall. His advocacy of conservation influenced David. He and his brothers would all find great success in their chosen careers, which would take them far from the city of Leicester, where they were raised. David attended Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys. David developed a strong interest in natural history. At the age of seven, Attenborough developed a fascination with the natural world, owning a collection of bird eggs and fossils, despite the relative urban surroundings in which he lived. In 1945, Clare College of Cambridge University offered him a scholarship, which he graduated with a degree in natural sciences, studying geology and zoology, M.A., 1947.

At 11 years old he struck a deal selling newts to University College, Leicester for 3d (3 pence) each.

He was called up for national service in the Royal Navy in 1947 and spent two years stationed in North Wales and the Fifth of Forth. His older brother, Richard Attenborough, later became a successful actor and film producer. Richard was an Academy Award-winning actor and director, and his younger brother, John, was a successful financial advisor and a top executive at a famous Italian car company.

At 11 years old he struck a deal selling newts to University College, Leicester for 3d (3 pence) each. The newts only came from a pond 5m away from the university’s zoology department!

Marriage and children

He was married to his longtime girlfriend Jane Elizabeth EbsworthOriel in 1950. They have two children, Robert and Susan. His wife Jane died on 16 February 1997 due to brain hemorrhage. There seems no other relationship in which he was involved. Dr. Robert Attenborough (his son) is a senior lecturer and an accomplished researcher however, he is best known among the public as the son of English broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. While Robert and his sister, Susan Attenborough, were growing up, their father, David Attenborough, was not much present in their life because of his work. Despite all that, the father and son have made many memories together, which the 94-year old still remembers very fondly. In March 2020, while talking with The Times, Sir David shared the moment when he gifted a Salamander to Robert on his eight's birthday. He also revealed that he was also gifted the same gift by his father when he was a child himself. His daughter Susan is a former primary school headmistress. In an interview, he said once, "If I do have regrets, it is that when my children were the same age as your children, I was away for three months at a time. If you have a child of six or eight and you miss three months of his or her life, it’s irreplaceable. You miss something."

Beginning of the career

After his stint in the Navy, he joined the ‘BBC’ in 1952. In 1949, Attenborough returned to London and found work as an editor for an educational publisher. His application for the radio was rejected at first, but his profile later attracted the interest of the head of the Talks department, Mary Adams. The following year he began a training program with the BBC. In 1952, Attenborough completed his training and began working for the television station as a producer, marking the beginning of what would be a milestone career, both at the BBC and beyond. He achieved first television credit on Coelacanth, a short film in which experts discuss the significance of the rediscovery of this ‘living fossil’ fish off the Comoro Islands.

His application for the radio was rejected at first, but his profile later attracted the interest of the head of the Talks department, Mary Adams

At the BBC, Attenborough faced two obstacles. First, the station had little to no programming devoted to the natural sciences, and second, his boss thought that Attenborough’s teeth were too big for him to be an on-air personality. Despite these hindrances, however, Attenborough persevered, taking small steps forward on the path toward his ultimate destiny.

Sir David Attenborough uses VHS when writing scripts for footage for his show, he explained that it is easier to go backward and forward.

Two years later, he joined BBC full time, becoming a producer for the Talks department, he handled non-fiction broadcast such as quiz shows “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?” and Song Hunter. David Attenborough was 24 years old when he joined BBC, and not many Britons owned a television, including him. David and his teammate had to invent the visual language of television as they went along, as they were still pioneers of television.

Sir David Attenborough uses VHS when writing scripts for footage for his show, he explained that it is easier to go backward and forward. BBC still keeps a cassette player, converting the digital file to analog for David to add voiceovers in. He was offered a department: BBC Natural History Unit’s productions in 1957, but he declined in favor of staying home in London. Instead, he formed the Travel and Exploration Unit.

Through his new unit, David Attenborough first produced Animal Patterns; it was a three-part series that was presented by Jack Lester. When Jack fell ill during the broadcast of Zoo Quest in 1954, David had to fill in and present the episodes. Zoo Quest showed animals not only in captivity but also in the wild while maintaining a respectful distant approach to the animals. This strategy established the current general standards for nature documentaries.

But Attenborough was dissatisfied with the format of shows such as these, which often brought animals out of their natural habitats and into the distressing environment of a television studio. Seeking to break with this unfortunate tradition, Attenborough launched a series titled Zoo Quest in 1954.

Due to the immense success of Zoo Quest, BBC established its Natural History Unit in 1957. In the early 1960s, Attenborough left the BBC and studied Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics. In 1965, he became the controller of BBC Two, he included a clause that would allow him to continue making programs on an occasional basis. He was responsible for the introduction of color television into Britain, and also for bringing Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969) to the world, a comedy series, starring John Cleese and Terry Gilliam. After leaving the BBC, Attenborough worked as a freelance writer and producer, producing successful programs including Eastwards with Attenborough (1973), which showed an anthropological study of Indonesia. Sir David Attenborough's other famous projects include a 13-part series on the history of Western art and Civilisation in 1969. He was promoted to director of programs, but he left the job in favor of broadcasting in 1973.

Rise to Stardom

David Attenborough’s 1973 series Eastwards with Attenborough, was similar to the Zoo Quests, but without the animal-collecting element. He presented the Tribal Eye and The Explorers while securing a co-production deal with Turner Broadcasting to produce Life on Earth in 1976.

His television services were recognized in 1985, and he was knighted to become Sir David Attenborough.

Since then, David has been presenting the Life series, a ten-part series featuring plants and animals. Most of his presentations feature animal behavior, documentaries, and environments. In 2010, he was in partnership with Sky, working on documentaries for the new 3D network, Sky 3D. Their collaborations are Flying Monsters 3D and The Bachelor King 3D.

Sir David Attenborough is still presenting his show, with the most recent Planet Earth II, his career spans over seventy years. He is not planning to stop presenting his projects at the moment. He also published twenty-five books that are linked with the series that he broadcasted in his time.

In 1969, he was appointed Director of Programs with editorial responsibility for both the BBC's television networks. Eight years behind a desk was too much for him, and he resigned in 1973 to return to program making. First came "Eastwards with Attenborough", a natural history series set in South East Asia, then The Tribal Eye (1975), examining tribal art. In 1979, he wrote and presented all 13 parts of Life on Earth (1979) (then the most ambitious series ever produced by the BBC Natural History Unit). This became a trilogy, with The Living Planet (1984) and The Trials of Life (1990).

His television services were recognized in 1985, and he was knighted to become Sir David Attenborough. The two shorter series, "The First Eden" and "Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives" were fitted around 1993's spectacular Life in the Freezer (1993), a celebration of Antarctica, and 1995's epic The Private Life of Plants (1995), which he wrote and presented. Filming the beautiful birds of paradise for Attenborough in Paradise (1996) 1996 fulfilled a lifelong ambition, putting him near his favorite bird. Entering his seventies, he narrated the award-winning David Attenborough Wildlife Specials (1995), marking 40 years of the BBC Natural History Unit. But, he was not slowing down, as he completed the epic 10-part series for the BBC, The Life of Birds (1998) along with writing and presenting the three-part series State of the Planet (2000) as well as The Life of Mammals (2002). Once broadcast, he began planning his next projects.

Attenborough later narrated Our Planet, an eight-part series that debuted on Netflix in 2019. That year the BBC also broadcast his documentary Climate Change—The Facts, in which he warned that the failure to act could lead to “the collapse of our societies.”

Books, awards, and achievements

Attenborough wrote numerous books, several of which were companions to his TV series. Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster (2002), Memoirs of a Broadcaster: Memoirs of a Broadcaster (2017), and Journeys to the Other Side of the World: Further Adventures of a Young Naturalist (2018) are among his autobiographies. A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future appeared in 2020. Attenborough was the recipient of numerous other honors, including several BAFTA Awards and a Peabody Award (2014). He was knighted in 1985.

Some of the distinguished awards that he received in the 2000s are ‘Michael Faraday Prize,’ awarded by the ‘Royal Society,’ ‘Descartes Prize’ for ‘Outstanding Science Communication Actions,’ and the ‘Order of Merit’ (OM).
  • He has received honorary degrees from many universities across the world and is a patron or supporter of many charitable organizations, including acting as Patron of the World Land Trust, which buys rain forest and other lands to preserve them and the animals that live there.

  • In addition to honorary Doctor of Science awards from the ‘University of Cambridge’ and ‘University of Oxford,’ he is the recipient of 32 honorary degrees from various British universities.

  • A 2002 ‘BBC’ poll named him among the ‘100 Greatest Britons.’ He is also one of the top ten ‘Heroes of Our Time’ according to ‘New Statesman’ magazine.

  • A 2006 ‘Reader’s Digest’ poll named him the most trusted celebrity in Britain. The following year, he won The Culture Show's ‘Living Icon Award.’

  • In the 1970s, he won the ‘BAFTA Desmond Davis Award,’ the Royal Geographical Society's ‘Cherry Kearton Medal and Award,’ and was awarded the ‘Commander of the Order of the British Empire’ (CBE).

  • In the 1980s, he received a ‘BAFTA Fellowship’ and a Knighthood and was named a ‘Fellow of the Royal Society’ (FRS).

  • In the 1990s, he was awarded the ‘Commander of the Royal Victorian Order’ (CVO) for producing Queen Elizabeth II's Christmas broadcast for several years.

  • Some of the distinguished awards that he received in the 2000s are ‘Michael Faraday Prize,’ awarded by the ‘Royal Society,’ ‘Descartes Prize’ for ‘Outstanding Science Communication Actions,’ and the ‘Order of Merit’ (OM).

  • He was honored with a fellowship by the ‘Royal Photographic Society’ in 2008. He received medals from the ‘Queensland Society’ in 2010 and from the ‘Society for the History of Natural History’ (SHNH) in 2011. He also received a ‘Phillips Memorial Medal’ from the ‘International Union for Conservation of Nature’ (IUCN) in 2012.

  • In 2017, he was made an ‘Honorary Member of the Moscow Society of Naturalists.’ The following year, he won a ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Narrator.’

  • In 1972, Attenborough received a Cherry Kearton Medal and Award from the Royal Geographical Society.

  • In 1973, Attenborough was invited to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on The Language of Animals.

  • He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1974 Queen's Birthday Honors List, made a Knight Bachelor in the 1985 Queen's Birthday Honors List, a CVO (Commander of the Royal Victorian Order) in the 1991 Queen's Birthday Honors List and a CH (Companion of Honor) in the 1996 Queen's New Year Honors List.

Philanthropy and Humanitarian Efforts

David Attenborough worked with WWF, Peter Rose and Anne Conlon from 1983. The Yanomamo was about the rainforest, and Ocean World was presented in 1991. He narrated both musicals. He was appointed patron of the UK's Blood Pressure Association in 2005. In 2009, David became a patron of Population Matters (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust) and Friends of Richmond Park.

David Attenborough and other top scientists campaign for "creationism" to be banned from the school science curriculum

He supports many environmentalist charities, such as World Land Trust, Butterfly Conservation, and the president of Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. In 2003, David launched ARKive, an initiative of Wildscreen. The project is to gather natural history media into a digital library.

David Attenborough and other top scientists campaign for "creationism" to be banned from the school science curriculum and for evolution to be taught more widely in schools". His view is that evolution is as solid a historical fact, and strongly opposes creationism and its offshoot "intelligent design."

There’s only one animal Sir David doesn’t like…Rats!

Fun Facts

  • He is the only person to have won BAFTAs for programs in black and white, color, HD, and 3D.

  • He doesn’t own a car as he never passed his driving test.

  • He’s also not keen on sending emails and prefers receiving letters by fax or post.

  • There’s only one animal Sir David doesn’t like…Rats!

  • Sir David was rejected from the first job he ever applied for at the BBC, the position of radio talk producer.

  • When Sir David got his first job in television, he didn’t even own a TV, like most British people at the time!

  • Sir David has more than ten plants and animals named after him, Such as the Nepenthes attenboroughii – a giant carnivorous plant that devours animals as large as rats – and the UK’s new polar research vessel, RRS Sir David Attenborough.

  • In 1985 he received a knighthood granting him the title of Sir David Attenborough

  • For The Life of Birds documentary, he traveled a whopping 256,000 miles – that’s the same as traveling around the world ten times!

  • His net worth is $35 million. But his salary is unknown.

  • David doesn’t have to involve in any kind of rumors and controversies. So he seems to have a good relationship with all in both personal and professional life.

  • He is active on different social media. David uses Instagram and has more than 69.6K followers. Likewise, he also uses Twitter with 21K followers. Lastly, he is also active on Facebook and has more than 23K followers.

  • Computerized airline schedules enabled this acclaimed broadcaster to visit several locations around the globe in each episode, sometimes even changing continents midway.

  • As Controller of BBC Two (a position he took up in 1965), he entered into a kind of space race to be the first European channel to broadcast in color, beating a rival German attempt, with a broadcast from the 1967 Wimbledon tennis tournament, by three weeks.

  • Having been offered the chance to be the Director-General of the BBC in 1972, he turned it down to focus on making natural history films.

  • While filming "The Living Planet", he saw his balloon crash land in southern Scotland. When he finally found a farmhouse, the farmer recognized him from the TV and said he could use the phone if he wished his wee daughter a happy birthday.

  • For his birthday, one of his sisters gave him a fossilized animal trapped in amber, which later grew into an entire collection of animals in amber. In Jurassic Park (1993), his brother Richard Attenborough grows dinosaurs from mosquitoes trapped in amber.

  • In 2011, his home became the key to solving a murder from 132 years earlier.

  • He is the great-uncle of Tom Attenborough (Thomas Frederick Richard Attenborough is an English voice actor and theatre director. He is the son of theatre director Michael Attenborough, grandson of the late film actor and director Richard Attenborough and the great-nephew of broadcaster David Attenborough).

  • While director of programs at the BBC, he stopped the broadcast of Doomwatch: Sex and Violence (1972) because it was potentially libelous.

  • He has 32 degrees

  • He brought the world televised snooker

  • He won a stare-off with a Rwandan Mountain Gorilla

  • He isn't much of a George W. Bush fan

  • He loves a blue shirt and a pair of chinos

  • His hero is a Canadian man named Ernest Thompson Seton, a ranger on the prairies of California and a man who Attenborough has told us “wrote brilliant books!” during a Twitter Q&A for BBC One.

  • If he could, he would be a sloth

Famous Quotes

  • As far as I'm concerned, if there is a supreme being then He chose organic evolution as a way of bringing into existence the natural world . . . which doesn't seem to me to be necessarily blasphemous at all.

  • Some scientists suggest that up to a quarter of animal species could be extinct by 2050. But it's not too late - you can be involved in saving planet Earth. If you are a child, this is your future. If you're a parent, it's your legacy. The time to act is now.

  • The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are dependent on that world. It provides our food, water, and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.

  • No one will protect what they don't care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.

  • What humans do over the next 50 years will determine the fate of all life on the planet.

  • How could I look my grandchildren in the eye and say I knew what was happening to the world and did nothing.

  • Anyone who believes in indefinite growth on a physically finite planet is either mad or an economist

  • The fact is that no species has ever had such wholesale control over everything on earth, living or dead, as we now have. That lays upon us, whether we like it or not, an awesome responsibility. In our hands now lies not only our own future but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the earth.

  • The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?

  • Birds were flying from continent to continent long before we were. They reached the coldest place on Earth, Antarctica, long before we did. They can survive in the hottest of deserts. Some can remain on the wing for years at a time. They can girdle the globe. Now, we have taken over the earth and the sea and the sky, but with skill and care and knowledge, we can ensure that there is still a place on Earth for birds in all their beauty and variety - if we want to... And surely, we should.

  • "Don't waste anything, don't waste electricity, don't waste food, don't waste power".

One of the best chances we have is to educate young people about how to shift society’s goals and work towards a sustainable future.

Present Work

A Life On Our Planet is Attenborough’s witness statement, and vision for the future of our world. Throughout the 90-minute film, streaming now on Netflix, Attenborough laments the loss of our wild places and the biodiversity within them. He explains how if humanity continues on its current trajectory, it’s bad news all around.

One of the best chances we have is to educate young people about how to shift society’s goals and work towards a sustainable future.

One man has seen more of the natural world than any other. This unique feature documentary is his witness statement. In his 93 years, David Attenborough has visited every continent on the globe, exploring the wild places of our planet and documenting the living world in all its variety and wonder. Now, for the first time, he reflects upon both the defining moments of his life as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen. Honest, revealing, and urgent, DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A LIFE ON OUR PLANET is a powerful first-hand account of humanity's impact on nature and a message of hope for future generations. Created by award-winning natural history filmmakers Silverback Films and global conservation organization WWF, the film is directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes, and Keith Scholey and Executive Produced by Colin Butfield. Celebrated British naturalist Sir David Attenborough has a broadcasting career spanning over eight decades. He has visited every continent on the globe, exploring the wild places of our planet and bringing the wonders of the living world to audiences worldwide through groundbreaking natural history series. His work includes Life on Earth, Planet Earth, and more recently the Netflix original documentary series Our Planet.


This article is reproduced from different resources available on the internet. Text is marked with hyperlinks and sources given at the end. The intention was to gain as much knowledge and information about this amazing celebrity and genius of our past, present, and future, so everything meant to be known about him should be known to all people.



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