Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Attenborough Years

17th Nov.  I’m sure I’m not alone in really enjoying the series of programmes currently showing on BBC TV on Friday evening and presented by David Attenborough.  There was some great footage last week of the Spatula Humming Bird and Bird Winged Butterfly amongst much more.  Last night took us briefly through sixty years of Natural History Film making and how things have changed.  All very interesting indeed.

David Attenborough mentioned last night that he had been privileged to live during the golden years of Natural History Film making.  I must say I feel privileged to have lived through the years this man has appeared on our TV screens.  I remember as a very small child watching early Zoo Quest Expeditions on the family very small black and white TV set.  I have no real recollection of the content, but I do have a clear recollection of watching David Attenborough during his travels, so it was good to be reminded of some of them last night.  By today’s standards of course not very highly developed programmes, but at the time very exciting.  It was nice too, to be reminded of some top class BBC productions, such as Civilisation, that came to fruition whilst David Attenborough was involved in BBC administration.  These programmes were made long before dumbing down seem to come into vogue, although no doubt there was also rubbish on the TV even then.

I have some Zoo Quest Expeditions in book form and I intend to have another read of the trip to Borneo which in part appeared last night.  I was hoping to see something from the trip to Guyana as a few years ago I actually stayed in the compound where David Attenborough and crew were based in the 1950s and I met at least one person known to him at the time.  I’ve also been lucky enough to follow a pack of Wild Dogs on the Okavango Delta in Botswana.  Also shown last night.  As a child watching the old black and white TV set such trips would have simply been as likely to ever happen to me as flying to the moon!

The Life series were all excellent but the one that still stands out for me was the first, and that was Life on Earth.  At the time I was taking more of an interest in Natural History and this set of programmes really excited me.  I have watched all of the others of course and have all the accompanying books.  Which reminds me, I need to check out a recent publication where David Attenborough looks at the art and natural history of the Birds of Paradise.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet David Attenborough, if only at a book signing some years ago.  If I was having one of those dinner parties where you could invite anyone along (alive or dead) David Attenborough would be at the top of my list along with Charles Darwin.  What an interesting conversation that would make!  I think I’d like to have Peter Scott along too.  I need a little more time to think of some others.  I'll apologise to Simon King now, as he won't be on the invite list, but Bill Oddie might be as I'm sure he could liven things up.  I actually do respect Bill Oddie's knowledge, much of it self taught and I like people who speak their minds.

I look at today’s presenters and I can’t come up with anyone who may be able to take on the position of David Attenborough.  I suppose it is unfair to expect anyone to do so as we live in a very different world now.  I will look forward to next week’s offering and in the mean time I’ll read once again of the Zoo Quest Expedition to Borneo in search of the Komodo Dragon made in the 1950s.  I see that in the same book details are given of the Zoo Quest Expedition to Paraguay in the same decade which includes a visit the Chaco region.  Sadly on the radio this morning I caught a little of a programme giving details of how the Chaco forest areas are been cut down at a rapid rate and any attempts to at least slow this process for conservation reasons seem to have had little to no success.  As I say, a very different world now!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Sir Attenborough could tell us some fascinating stories no doubt!