For the last 92 years, the world has been lucky enough to have been graced by the presence of the inimitable David Attenborough.
From the velvet voice to the trailblazing career giving a platform to our natural world, David’s work has a special place in our hearts and a profound impact on society as a collective. Crucially he has opened our eyes to the travesty of plastic in our oceans and continues to be a guiding light in terms of conservation, creativity and beyond. On the revamp of his classic tome, Life on Earth: The Greatest Story Ever Told, David spoke to Ryan Tubridy about some of the high points of his majestic career.
"Sometimes it ’s hours and hours and hours of absolutely nothing happening," said David of his work in the wild, but when you do wait it out and catch that magic moment, it’s almost as if time stops. "Sometimes, of course, it happens beyond your wildest dreams. I remember sitting with gorillas and thinking we were going to get distant shots and one of the gorillas comes out and sits on my feet!" he told Ryan.
"That was beyond belief. I simply couldn’t imagine that this would happen and when it did, people sometimes say you now, were you frightened, because these are big animals. You know, that adult female could have taken my head off with one blow of her fist but… not for a single second was I worried and I can’t properly explain except to say that when you meet somebody, sometimes you can meet somebody who you know immediately is going to be very friendly and sometimes they can be very aggressive and in this case, this animal was absolute friends with me."
Ryan wanted to know if David could describe a moment that was particularly emotional for him. "If you see an elephant coming at you at 25 miles an hour, you feel quite emotional!" he joked, but then there’s nothing funny about a charging elephant who has identified you as a target. He has, of course, had multiple moments that have taken his breath away with their beauty and poignancy. "The great thing about natural history is that it takes you out of the human condition," he told Ryan.
"Natural history can lead you into imaginatively into areas that you can never visit. What’s it like to be a hummingbird spending your time desperately flying from flower to flower in order to keep enough nectar fuel in your tank? What’s it like suddenly to be displayed to a female and to do acrobatics of the most extraordinary kind in order to show off how skillful you are?… All these things are very, very different."
Click here to hear David’s interview in full - because let’s face it, you’d even listen to the telephone directory being read out page by page if it was done in David’s dulcet tones.