Monday, April 23, 2007

David Attenborough, the living naturalist

Who has ever heard about David Attenborough? Your answer may be ‘no, I haven’t’, but every Englishman knows him. He is famous for his animal documentaries, as well as his former position as director of programming at BBC2. He has recently be awarded as being the world’s ‘Greatest Living Icon’.

Born in 1926 in London, he developed a strong interest for nature from his childhood onwards by collecting stones and fossils. His passion for nature was concreticised when he obtained a degree in natural sciences. He also defended ecological causes and kept on saying that the future of life on earth depends on the individual’s good-will. Nevertheless, measures have to be taken at the political level.

He was especially interested in birds, which gave way to a series of documentaries, in which Attenborough describes their lives, the way they reproduce, their songs, and so on. In order to make his Life of Birds documentaries he travelled all over the world and met all kinds of people. His passion as naturalist was the power for which he carried out researches about all sorts of birds: “Until now I had always shied off birds, because I felt there are so many people who know so much more about them than I do. But I was persuaded that that was an advantage, for me to look at them from the general naturalist's point of view”.

From the mid-1950s onwards, he produced his first TV program, Zoo Quest, dealing with animal collecting expeditions. His career in the English television went on when he took over the control of BBC2. He eventually was the responsible for the introduction of colours into the British television.

His notoriety also rests on his peculiar way of speaking. His tone is described as being ‘hushed’, which gave way to numerous parodies. However, it has been acknowledged that “his power of story telling is legendary”.

Even though he is now 80, he is still active as an advisor for the BBC Wildlife magazine, and therefore enjoying an international popularity.

By Hugues and Pierre-Hugues

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