David Attenborough is one of the most influential and admired figures in English television. When 26, he applied for a job in the BBC – which then meant radio – and was promptly turned down. But someone saw his rejected application and asked, would he like to try television? He would, and sixty years later, he is still at it. Elegantly told, often very funny, here is his story.
At home there is his rise to controlling BBC2, introducing colour television to Britain, encounters with Montgomery, Anthony Eden, singers, athletes, explorers, the Queen, Benjamin Britten. Abroad there are people just as remarkable, journeys up tropical rivers, to the interior of New Guinea or the Australian outback, dragons, birds of paradise, flying snakes and walls of cockroaches.
Now updated to cover his work since 2009, Life on Air is a remarkable account of David Attenborough's passion for the natural world and his lifelong quest to understand it. .
Sir David Attenborough is Britain's best-known natural history film-maker. His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly six decades. His first job – after Cambridge University and two years in the Royal Navy – was at a London publishing house. Then in 1952 he joined the BBC as a trainee producer, and it was while working on the Zoo Quest series (1954-64) that he had his first opportunity to undertake expeditions to remote parts of the globe, to capture intimate footage of rare wildlife in its natural habitat. He was Controller of BBC2 (1965-68), during which time he introduced colour television to Britain, then Director of Programmes for the BBC (1969-1972). However, in 1973 he abandoned administration altogether to return to documentary-making and writing, and 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), Life of Birds (1998), The Blue Planet (2001), Life of Mammals (2002), Planet Earth (2006) and Life in Cold Blood (2008). Sir David was knighted in 1985, is an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Royal Society, and stands at the forefront of issues concerning the planet's declining species and conservation.