Natural history content is universal: David Attenborough

He has been exploring wildlife and natural history for over six decades, bringing the wonders of nature to the audience through his films and stories. David Attenborough, who turned 91 on Monday, says the best part about this content is that it’s universally loved.

What’s the key to have great content for the audience’

“The knowledge of the natural world is obviously what you have to have and a wish to make films about it. Of course, (one) thing that has been very nice for us is that natural history content is universal. As long as people like me don’t get in the way (and) don’t get in between the camera and animal too often, it’s universally accepted. And that’s one of the joys,” Attenborough said in an interview.

The transcript of the interview was shared with IANS by Sony BBC Earth for its Attenborough Special.

Best known for writing and presenting the “Life” series, Attenborough has experienced decades of coverage on his subject. Technology aside, what have been other changes in the concept of natural history programming or filming since he started doing it’

“Yes, I have been doing (this) for a very long time. When I started, it was very hard. You couldn’t do a lot of things. When I first went to West Africa, the cameraman went to the rainforest; I haven’t been there myself, I (had) written up this glorious description of what we were going to do in order to get my money.

“We went there and I got all kinds of interesting animals I was going to film, (but) the cameraman said ‘This is hopeless, I’m afraid it’s too dark, we can’t film in here’. We were there for three months and it was quite true, we couldn’t film there. In the end, we had to make films about animals that lived in the clearings,” he recounted.

But pointing out the change that technology has brought along, he said: “One of the problems that faces us now as programme makers is that with computer graphics, you can do anything. You can make any animal do anything.

“You can go up in the sky, you can go out to sea, you can speed things up, you can slow things down, and you can film things that the eyes can’t see with heat cameras. There’s nothing you can’t do… Life is just so much easier.

“But as a consequence, the standard that people expect in your films is now (also) very much higher.”

After so many years of mastering his field, is there anything left for him to learn’

“I’ve had an unbelievable time. I really can’t believe that I’m so lucky. Here I am, lucky enough to be standing when I’m 91. But to be standing up and still (have) people saying ‘make more programmes’ is a gift you couldn’t believe is possible.”


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