An institution in British broadcasting. David, younger brother of film director & actor Richard Attenborough, joined the BBC in 1952, having studied Natural Science at Cambridge University, and two years later began the popular series Zoo Quest, establishing himself as the face of television natural history.
As well as appearing on screen in Zoo Quest, David took on many roles off-screen, writing and producing other programmes including the popular quiz show Animal, Vegetable Or Mineral?. He rose through the ranks in the BBC and in 1965 was appointed as Controller of BBC2. The young channel (only launched the previous year) had failed to make much of an impact under its previous controller, but over the next six years Attenborough turned it into a huge success, commissioning landmark documentaries such as The Ascent Of Man and Kenneth Clark's Civilisation, blockbuster drama including The Forsyte Saga, and overseeing the introduction of colour to the channel - the first colour broadcasting anywhere in Europe.
However, it was in programme-making that his real passion lay, and though he was tipped for even bigger things at the BBC (right up to Director-General), he quit the boardroom to concentrate on making an epic natural history series, Life On Earth. The series was filmed over five years, with shooting taking place on every continent. Many animal behaviours were caught on camera for the very first time. The time and money put into the series paid off - it was a huge success, and re-established David as a TV star. Many other series followed - The Living Planet and The Trials Of Life completed what is sometimes referred to as "The Life Trilogy", while "Life In The Freezer" was an unique series on the natural history of Antarctica, and "The Secret Life Of Plants" and "The Life Of Birds" looked at specific areas of natural history.
Between these landmark series, David has also been a prolific voice-over artist, narrating countless episodes of Wildlife On One and The Natural World. His distinctive tones have been imitated by any number of impressionists and comedians.
He lives in Clifton in Bristol.… Expand
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