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David Attenborough – Master Natural Historian of Life on Earth

David Attenborough - Life on Earth

David Attenborough filming “Life on Earth”

Sir David Attenborough (born 8 May 1926 in London, England) is Britain’s best-known natural history film-maker.   His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly five decades and there are very few places on the globe that he has not visited.   Over the last 25 years he has established himself as the world’s leading natural history programme maker with several landmark BBC series, including: Life on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), The Trials of Life (1990), The Private Life of Plants (1995), The Life of Birds (1998), The Life of Mammals (2002) and Life in the Undergrowth (2005).

The final chapter in the Life series, Life in Cold Blood is the grand finale to David’s survey of life on earth.

He is also a former senior manager at the BBC, having served as controller of BBC Two and director of programming for BBC Television in the 1960s and 1970s.   In 1965, Sir David became Controller of BBC2 and was responsible for the introduction of colour television into Britain.  In January 1969, he was appointed Director of Programmes with editorial responsibility for both of the BBC’s television networks.  Then, in 1973, he resigned to return to programme-making, claiming “I haven’t even seen the Galapagos Islands”.  First came Eastwards with Attenborough, a natural history series set in South East Asia, then The Tribal Eye, examining tribal art.

He is a younger brother of director, producer and actor Richard Attenborough.  He is widely considered a national treasure, although he himself doesn’t care for the term.

David Attenborough received a Knighthood for services to broadcasting in 1985.

An estimated 500 million people worldwide watched the 13-part series Life on Earth, written and presented by Sir David.  At the time it was the most ambitious series ever produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. Its sequel, The Living Planet, came five years later in 1984 and in 1990 the final part of the trilogy, The Trials of Life was broadcast.


1956     Zoo Quest to Guyana
1957     Zoo Quest for a Dragon
1959     Zoo Quest in Paraguay
1960     Quest in Paradise
1961      Zoo Quest to Madagascar
1963     Quest Under Capricorn
1976     The Tribal Eye
1979     Life on Earth
1984     The Living Planet
1987     The First Eden
1990     The Trials of Life
1994     The Private Life of Plants
1998     The Life of Birds
2002    The Life of Mammals
2002     Life on Air  – ( 
David’s memoirs about being a broadcaster )
2005     Life In The Undergrowth

2007     Life in Cold Blood
2010     First Life – a journey back in time with Matt Kaplan

The above are books written by David Attenborough.   However, besides writing all the above, he has also been narrator for many documentaries as well.   You can see a long list of the films he has directed, produced or hosted by clicking on this filmography   here.    The “First Life” series (broadcast in 2010) is about the origin of life.  You can read more about the First Life series by clicking  here.


Prizes and Awards Received by David Attenborough
Society of Film and Television Arts Special Award
Royal Television Society Silver Medal
Zoological Society of London Silver Medal
Society of Film and Television Arts Desmond Davis Award
Royal Geographical Society Cherry Kearton Medal
UNESCO Kalinga Prize
Boston Museum of Science Washburn Award
Philadelphia Academy of Natural Science Hopper Day Medal
Royal Geographical Society Founder’s Gold Medal
Encyclopedia Britannica Award
International Emmy Award
Royal Scottish Geographical Society Livingstone Medal
Royal Society of Arts Franklin Medal
Folden Kamera Award

I love David Attenborough.   I have met him in person and he autographed my sister’s copy of “Life on Earth”.   You can read about that wonderful experience by scrolling down to the bottom of this post on my blog    here   when I met him at a local book signing for his 1984 book “The Living Planet.”

I have just bought an autographed 10 x 8 inch colour photograph of Sir David which I will pin up above my desk at work !!   The picture at the top is an example of the photograph that I acquired.   In 1979 when the Life on Earth series began, I was at High Second.   A fantastic Biology teacher at High School in 4th and 5th year (or Year 11 and Year 12) and a child-hood   by the Canning River motivated me to go on to University to study and complete a 3 year Degree, being a Bachelor of Applied Science in Biology.

However, David Attenborough was definitely the main motivator!!



Thank you for being you, Sir David Attenborough.

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4 thoughts on “David Attenborough – Master Natural Historian of Life on Earth

  1. Always loved Sir Davids work, which is sometimes run on our Public Broadcasting Network (PBS.) But now you have piqued my interest, and I must look for his books at the local library. I thought he only did documentaries. Thanks, Celine.

  2. Thank you for your reply, Billy. I have “The Living Planet” and want to purchase “First Life” soon. My sister has “Life on Earth”, his most famous book. The photo in this post is the quintessential David Attenborough when filming “Life on Earth”. I am also interested in “Tribal Art”. I found it exciting and fun to look up details of his books. The earlier Zoo Quest books would be great to read, then again, all of them would be super to read. I love books, and David Attenborough !

  3. Johno on said:

    His documentaries are top notch. I love em.

  4. Me toooooo, Johno. Thanks for adding your paw print here. Best wishes, Celine

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