#RespectYourElders: Sir David Attenborough, 93, is an English broadcaster, writer and historian. He’s known as the face and voice of countless educational television programs that explore animal life, climate change and the wonders of the Earth.
Attenborough was born in London in 1926. By the age of seven, he had already created his own “museum” where he collected birds’ eggs, fossils and stones. His fascination with science helped him earn a scholarship to Clare College in Cambridge in 1945, where he studied natural sciences. Upon graduating, he was called up for two years in the Royal Navy.
After serving in the Navy, he applied for a job as a radio producer at the BBC in 1950. Although Attenborough was rejected, he was offered training to work as a broadcaster. Soon after, he was hired as a BBC producer full time.
Attenborough got his first big break when he launched “Zoo Quest.” The program filmed animals in captivity, but also in their natural habitats, which was highly innovative at the time. “Zoo Quest” was so well-received that the BBC created its Natural History Unit in 1957.
Attenborough left the BBC briefly to study social anthropology at the London School of Economics, but returned in 1965 to work as a controller at BBC Two. He helped create a diverse lineup of weekly television programs that included arts, science, entertainment, comedy, drama, sports, business and more, including Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
In the early ’70s, Attenborough resigned from the BBC to write and produce TV series as a freelancer. He traveled to South East Asia to film “Eastwards with Attenborough,” which was his first natural history series. In 1979, he reunited with the BBC for his show “Life on Earth,” an ambitious and massively scaled documentary about wildlife and the natural phenomena of the world. An estimated 500 million people watched the series.
Today, Attenborough is arguably the most influential voice and advocate for the environment, writing and narrating other visually dominant series including “Blue Planet,” “Planet Earth” and “Our Planet,” which arrived on Netflix in April 2019.
Attenborough has received countless awards for his work, including 32 honorary degrees from British universities and a knighthood for services to broadcasting. He even had a 430-million-year-old fossil named after him. In 2007, Time Magazine said of Attenborough: “No living person has done more to make the people of Planet Earth aware of the world around them.”