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David Attenborough

Weston Library Opening by John Cairns 20.3.15-139 (cropped).jpg
Attenborough at the opening of the Weston Library in March 2015
David Frederick Attenborough

8 May 1926 (1926-05-08) (age 94)
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Cambridge (BA)
Years active 1952–present
Title Controller of BBC2 (1965-1969)
President of the Royal Society for Nature Conservation (1991–1996)
Jane Elizabeth Ebsworth Oriel
(m. 1950; d. 1997)
Children 2
Parent(s) Frederick Attenborough
  • Richard Attenborough (brother)
  • John Attenborough (brother)
  • Michael Attenborough (nephew)
  • Charlotte Attenborough (niece)
  • Cherry Kearton Medal and Award (1974)
  • BAFTA Fellowship (1980)
  • Kalinga Prize (1981)
  • Kew International Medal (1996)
  • International Cosmos Prize (2000)
  • RSPB Medal (2000)
  • Michael Faraday Prize (2003)
  • José Vasconcelos World Award of Education (2004)
  • Descartes Prize (2004)
  • Nierenberg Prize (2005)
  • Princess of Asturias Award (2009)
  • Fonseca Prize (2010)
David Attenborough's signature.svg

Sir David Frederick Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE FRS FLS FZS FSA FRSGS (/ˈætənbrə/; born 8 May 1926) is an English broadcaster and natural historian. He is best known for writing and presenting, in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Unit, the nine natural history documentary series forming the Life collection that together constitute a comprehensive survey of animal and plant life on Earth. He is a former senior manager at the BBC, having served as controller of BBC Two and director of programming for BBC Television in the 1960s and 1970s. He is the only person to have won BAFTAs for programmes in each of black and white, colour, HD, 3D and 4K. In 2018 and 2019 he received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Narrator.

Attenborough is widely considered a national treasure in the UK, although he himself does not like the term. In 2002 he was named among the 100 Greatest Britons following a UK-wide poll for the BBC. He is the younger brother of the director, producer and actor Richard Attenborough, and older brother of the motor executive John Attenborough.

At least fifteen plants and animals, both living and extinct, have been named in Attenborough's honour.

Selected Filmography

  • Life on Earth (1979)
  • The Living Planet (1984)
  • The Trials of Life (1990)
  • Life in the Freezer (1993)
  • The Private Life of Plants (1995)
  • The Life of Birds (1998)
  • The Life of Mammals (2002)
  • Life in the Undergrowth (2005)
  • Life in Cold Blood (2008)
  • David Attenborough's Life Stories (2009)
  • David Attenborough's New Life Stories (2011)
  • Drawn From Paradise: The Discovery, Art and Natural History of the Birds of Paradise (2012) - with Errol Fuller
  • Planet Earth II (2016)


David Attenborough's work as an author has strong parallels with his broadcasting career. In the 1950s and 1960s, his published work included accounts of his animal collecting expeditions around the world, which became the Zoo Quest series. He wrote an accompanying volume to each of his nine Life documentaries, along with books on tribal art and birds of paradise. His autobiography, Life on Air, was published in 2002, revised in 2009 and is one of a number of his works which is available as a self-narrated audiobook. Attenborough has also contributed forewords and introductions to many other works, notably those accompanying Planet Earth, Frozen Planet, Africa and other BBC series he has narrated.

Audio recordings

  • Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson (available on audiocassette, 1978)
  • Yanomamo (musical entertainment, 1983) by Peter Rose and Anne Conlon; on-stage narration and published audio recording
  • Ocean World (musical entertainment, 1990) by Peter Rose and Anne Conlon; on-stage narration (including at The Royal Festival Hall), for audio recording and video broadcast (both published)
  • Peter and the Wolf for BBC Music Magazine (free CD with the June 2000 issue).

In addition, Attenborough has recorded some of his own works in audiobook form, including Life on Earth, Zoo Quest for a Dragon, and his autobiography Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster.

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