David Attenborough - The world's greatest nature documentary presenter

Artwork by Ava, age 12

Biography by Ava, age 12

The Museum of Very Interesting People features David Attenborough
David Attenborough - The world's greatest nature documentary producer and presenter

David Attenborough

Lived: 1926 - present day (2020)

Claim to Fame: Naturalist, TV Presenter, Environmentalist.

Sir David Attenborough is a naturalist, tv show presenter and environmentalist. He was born on the 8th of May, 1926, in Isleworth, England. He was the middle child of three sons.

David grew up in College House which is now part of the campus of the University of Leicester. His father was the principal of what was then the University College, Leicester.

When David was young, he spent a lot of time collecting fossils and making a little museum of them in his home. When he was 13, he cycled from Leicester to the Lake District collecting fossils!

When he was 16, David traveled by train to the University of Nottingham to listen to zoology lectures when he was supposed to be in school studying Latin. In 1945 David won a scholarship to study natural science at Clare College, Cambridge University.

During World War II David served in the Home Guard and on VE day he turned 19. In 1947 he was asked to join the national service and was a member of the Royal Navy for two years.

In 1950 after David had finished serving in the Royal Navy, he decided that he would not study for a doctorate because he didn't want to study animals in a laboratory. Also, in 1950 he married Jane Elizabeth Ebsworth Oriel and their son Robert was born in 1951.

David got a job as a junior editorial assistant with an educational publisher. He started on a book about tadpoles for primary schools. He said that ‘publishing was excruciatingly boring’!

David moved on to work for the BBC. Soon after he began working for them he was offered a job as an assistant producer and worked on the quiz show Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?

The first natural history series that David produced was called The Pattern of Animals. In 1954 David and Jack Lester, the curator of reptiles at London zoo, came up with the idea for the series Zoo Quest. Zoo Quest was very successful.

Jack Lester presented the first series of Zoo Quest but suffered from a tropical disease and was taken to hospital and died in 1956 so David had to present the second season – this was his first time presenting a television series. Zoo Quest went on to run for seven seasons.

While filming the third season, David traded his team’s salt and tobacco for a baby orangutan they named Charlie. Charlie became the father of the first orangutan born at London Zoo.

David returned to university in 1962 where he studied social anthropology at the London School of Economics. In March 1965 David was offered the job of the Controller of BBC2 and accepted under the condition that he could continue to make a programme of his choice every 18 months. Some of the TV series he wrote and presented are Life on Earth, The Tribal Eye, The Explorers, The Living Planet, The Trials of Life, Life in the Freezer, The Private Life of Plants, The Life of Birds, The Life of Mammals, Life in the Undergrowth and Life in Cold Blood. David recently narrated Our Planet.

David Attenborough is a great inspiration to people around the world. He has been able to educate and inspire many people through his many television series. David inspires us to think more carefully about how we can help save the planet and the many amazing animals that live on it!