Sir David Frederick Attenborough, English broadcaster and writer. b 1926
"The best-known face of British nature broadcasting" - David Bellamy
When such a man as David Bellamy, himself a 'face' of broadcasting, refers to someone like this, you listen. For nearly 50 years, David Attenborough has been presenting and producing high-quality educational and wildlife programs in Britain, and is not just a national figure, but is known worldwide for his commitment.
Born in London on 8th May 1926, he took an early interest in wildlife, which he pursued through his education at Clare College, Cambridge. After reading zoology and geology, he joined the Royal Navy for three years, before leaving in 1947 to join an educational publishing house.
The big turning point came for him in 1952, when he joined the BBC as a trainee producer, and two years later, had the opportunity he had been waiting for, to travel the world to see animals in their home environments. The TV series Zoo Quest was a breakthrough not just for David, but for broadcasting, breaking new ground and setting a standard for wildlife documentaries.
His innovative approach to production and broadcasting standards led to his being offered a post as the controller of BBC2, which he accepted in 1965, being resposible for such landmark series as The Ascent of Man, presented by Jacob Bronowski, and Kenneth Clark's amazing Civilisation. He continued to work with BBC2 as the director of programmes until 1972.
His first love still called to him, though, and he returned to his work in documentary television, producing, presenting and narrating the oustanding 'Life on Earth' trilogy of series which was first aired between 1979 and 1990. Life on Earth was a tremendous fillip for the BBC, earning millions in overseas sales, and spawning many imitations, and again, setting new standards for nature broadcasting.
He continues to work as a producer, and is much in demand for narrative work for wildlife programming world-wide, and is currently working to finish 'The Life of Mammals' for airing in 2002
As a well-respected broadcaster, he has received many honour over the years, including honorary degrees and his 1983 election to Fellowship of the Royal Society. He is a Trustee of the British Museum, was a Trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and President of the Royal Society for Nature Conservation. Awarded the CBE in 1974, he was also knighted in 1985 for his services to broadcasting, and appointed a CVO in 1991 and Companion of Honour in 1996.
His brother is Richard Attenborough, film producer and actor.