Sir David Attenborough has been bringing the nation ground breaking programmes about the natural world for over 60 years. Busier than ever, the veteran broadcaster talks about the third series of Natural Curiosities and why retirement is not in his thoughts.
Take the wonders of the world, add Sir David Attenborough’s dulcet tones, throw in some stunning wildlife camerawork, and you are guaranteed television gold. It is no surprise that the new series Natural Curiosities has – like nearly everything that the veteran broadcaster produces – proven to be such a huge hit. Now in its third season, the current run will see Attenborough delve into the domain of some of the most extraordinary and baffling species on the planet, from the anaconda to the flea. “I just think there are more varied animals in this series than almost any other series you could think of,” Attenborough says with trademark great enthusiasm. “Ranging from whales to fleas to camels to cheetahs, there is just a whole range of things. And the interesting thing is to find one particular aspect that is perhaps unexpected and that you wouldn’t have thought of, and particularly wouldn’t have thought in connection to the other half of the problem which join together. Who thought they’d be a link between a flea and a cheetah?” If there was anyone who you would back to find a link between a flea and a cheetah, it would be Attenborough. For over 60 years, the 88-year-old naturalist has been the oracle on all things nature helping our understanding of the world around from the Antarctic to the Amazon rainforest. But even a man as learned and well-travelled as Attenborough says that there is always something else to discover. It continues to be his main motivation. “Oh yes, you’ll never find everything out. You can’t possibly find everything out. I never lose my curiosity for finding out things. It’s a pleasure. Finding out new things is a pleasure, and this series has been a pleasure, it really has.” For this reason, Attenborough says Natural Curiosities has no obvious end point. “Oh yes, as long as your arm really. We could go on making these series for a very long time. As long as people want us, really. We all made a list of the sort of things were interesting and then looking for links to pair them up. We’ve got a few more numbers up our sleeves, anyway.” It isn’t just Natural Curiosities that he has up his sleeve for our entertainment, either. Conquest of the Skies, a Sky 3D series exploring nature’s greatest aeronauts has already aired to great acclaim, while later this year, a programme about the Great Barrier Reef , which he calls “the most remarkable place of breath-taking beauty” airs for the first time in 2015. It will be the 24th naturalist programme baring Attenborough’s influence to be aired in the last five years alone, meaning he has never been busier, despite approaching his 10th decade on earth. He wouldn’t have it any other way. “I can’t be more grateful that people ask me to make programmes. I’m very lucky and it’s a great privilege. I can’t believe I’m that lucky.” So can we take it there are no plans to retire? “Not while I’m vertical, no. Here I am at 88 and a lot of people at 88 aren’t able to do any work as nobody has given them any work. I just count my lucky stars. And a lot of people my age don’t work as they aren’t physically able to do it. It’s certainly not virtue that has led to this, but it would foolish not to take advantage of it. I just thank my lucky stars.”
David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities, new and exclusive to Watch, Mondays at 9pm from 2nd February