Sir David Attenborough, the environment whisperer, is well-known for his long and enduring career as a nature documentary film maker.
British David Frederick Attenborough (1926-) began broadcasting as a nature historian for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the 1950s. His first job as producer-presenter was a three-part nature program called The Pattern of Animals in 1951 at the age of twenty-five.
He was host of BBC’s Zoo Quest in 1954 at the age of twenty-eight, when the intended host, Jack Lester, the curator of the London Zoo’s reptile house, became ill. The show included his first overseas tour to search for specific animals. With London Zoo staff, he filmed an episode in Sierra Leone in search of the White-Necked Rockfowl. The series ended in 1963.
When he was appointed Controller of BBC Two, he commissioned and created a wildlife program in 1967 called The World Around Us to mark the introduction of colour television. He introduced French undersea film documentary maker Jacques Cousteau and English chimpanzee primatologist Jane Goodall to his audience in 1968. The program continued until 1987.
Attenborough narrated about 50 episodes of BBC’s Natural World (1983-present), the longest-running environment documentary series on British television. He also narrated Wildlife on One (1997-2005), BBC’s flagship natural history program.
From 2001 to 2017, BBC produced the Planet Earth franchise with 4 films, 5 television series, and one television film. David Attenborough presented and narrated The Blue Planet(2001), Planet Earth II (2016), and Blue Planet II (2017). Planet Earth III is expected to be released in 2022.
These are a brief sample on the extensive work that Attenborough has been involved with in relation to flora and fauna issues over the years. Aside from many other awards, in 1985, he was knighted Sir David Attenborough – Knight Bachelor. In 2005, he received the Order of Merit, and in 2020 he received the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George for services to television broadcasting and to conservation.
Currently 96 years old, David Attenborough continues his 70-year career highlighting environmental issues. His distinctive whisper, as he films in natural habitats, has become an iconic sound in wildlife documentaries. In 2018 and 2019, he received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Narrator.
He is an optimist. In the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) he said,
‘In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed a terrible decline. In yours, you could and should witness a wonderful recovery.’
This year, in 2022, the United Nations Environment Program recognized Sir David Attenborough as a Champion of the Earth.