David Attenborough

Attenborough, David (1926-) is a British naturalist and television broadcaster who created leading television wildlife programs.

David Frederick Attenborough was born in London in 1926. His father, Frederick Levi Attenborough, was principal of University College, Leicester. His mother was Mary (Clegg) Attenborough. David's older brother Richard became a well-known actor and filmmaker.

Attenborough attended Clare College, Cambridge, where he studied zoology and geology, earning a master's degree in 1947. After earning the rank of lieutenant in the Royal Navy from 1947 to 1949, he worked three years as a publishing editorial assistant. Attenborough joined the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as a television producer trainee in 1952.

In 1954, Attenborough began a BBC program called “Zoo Quest” that showed animals in the wild. After the program's first trip to West Africa, Attenborough became interested in the tropics. Over 10 years and 48 episodes, he made expeditions to remote regions to film wildlife in natural habitats.

From 1965 to 1972, Attenborough held top administrative posts at the BBC and helped create many high-quality dramas for the network. Attenborough then returned to filmmaking and writing. In the mid-1970's, he made seven episodes of “The Tribal Eye,” about art in primitive societies. Attenborough's popular “Life on Earth” series ran from 1976-1979. It began in prehistory, followed primitive creatures from the sea to land, and traced the development of land life through plants, animals, and humans. Shown in 13 segments on the BBC and in Europe, it had a weekly audience of millions of viewers.

Attenborough also wrote and presented “The Living Planet” (1984), “The Trials of Life” (1990), “The Private Life of Plants” (1995), and “The Life of Birds” (1998). Attenborough also wrote companion books to many of his television series. These included The Tribal Eye (1976), The Zoo Quest Expeditions (1982), and The Living Planet (1984). Attenborough's Life on Earth: A Natural History (1979), became a best seller and was translated into 18 languages.