1. He’s NOT An Animal Lover
Image source / Reddit
Sir David Attenborough is renowned for his love of the natural world so it’s quite shocking to hear that he doesn’t see himself as an animal lover. However, not too much should be read into this as he states, ‘I’m not an animal lover if that means you think things are nice if you can pat them, but I am intoxicated by animals.’
2. Snooker On TV Was HIS Idea
Image source / World Snooker
It’s hard to believe that viewers used to watch snooker on tv in black and white! That must have been confusing to say the least. It was Sir David’s idea to broadcast the game to our screens, once colour technology had become available (thank goodness). As he was a boss at BBC2 at the time, his decision was acted upon.
3. He’s An Accidental TV Star
Image source / The Times
Sir David wasn’t even the original host of one of the first programs, ‘Zoo Quest. Jack Lester, the curator of London Zoo’s reptile house, was the first host but when he took ill during one of the early episodes, Mr Attenborough stepped in, due to the show being live. He impressed everyone with how natural he was in front of the camera so became a regular.
4. His Brother Starred In Jurassic Park
Image source / CinemaBlend
David’s brother, Lord Richard Attenborough, became a successful actor and movie producer, starring in the iconic ‘Jurassic Park.’ The two siblings always got on extremely well and Richard was known to be very funny. When they were together, they spent all their time ‘roaring with laughter.’
5. He Once Helped Solve A Murder
Image source / The Australian
Sir David’s family home helped solve a case from the nineteenth century, due to an excavation of land he wanted to extend on to. In 1879, a widow was killed by her housekeeper. She was decapitated and body parts were fed to local children. The housekeeper was subsequently arrested and executed for the murder. In 2011, the victim’s head was found during the excavation of David’s land.
6. Bosses Said His Teeth Were Too Big!
Image source / bbc
When Sir David first started broadcasting, his boss at the BBC commented that, even though he was a pleasant guy and would make a good producer, he shouldn’t be seen in front of the camera as his teeth were too big! That turned out to be one of the most stupid comments ever!
7. He didn’t Own A TV When He Started At The BBC
Image source / Radio Times
David Attenborough didn’t own a tv set when he got a job at the BBC. In fact, he had only ever watched one program ever although, back then, not many people were privileged enough to own a set. Television was still at the stage where not much was known about how it worked.
8. He Became A Instagram Phenomenon
Image source / The Mirror
Despite not being a youngster, at the age of 94, Sir David joined Instagram in 2020. It took him 4 hours and 44 minutes to gain a million followers, a record for the platform. He stayed on it for 5 weeks before leaving it as he was inundated with thousands of messages and questions every single day!
9. He Doesn’t Have A Driving Licence
Image source / theguardian
Can you image how difficult it would be to get around if you didn’t have a car, especially if you had young children. It was obviously not an issue for Sir David as he never took driving lessons and doesn’t possess a licence even now. It certainly never stopped him moving forward!
10. He Came Fame To Face With Mountain Gorillas
Image source /Insider
While filming the documentary series ‘Life On Earth’ in 1979, Sir David came across a group of maintain gorillas in Rwanda. It must have been incredibly scary, being close up with them but, remarkably, they accepted him as one of their own and he played with the baby gorillas. How amazing!
11. Sir David Really Doesn’t Like Rats!
Image source / Reddit
‘I really, really hate rats,’ David Attenborough once said. ‘I’ve handled deadly spiders, snakes and scorpions without batting an eyelid, but if I see a rat I’ll be the first to run.’ This isn’t something you would expect to hear from the great man but it proves he’s not that different to most of us!
12. He Was At The Forefront Of British Comedy
Image source / IMDb
As BBC 2 Controller, Sir David approved ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ in 1969, the comedy team’s first ever major production. Of course, we now know they went on to become probably the greatest British comedy ensemble of all time, creating ‘The Life of Brian’ and ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’
13. He Agrees With Cloning Animals
Image source / European Parliament
In order to save a species, Sir David says, ‘I actually agree with cloning a species if you’re down to the very last one.’ He added, ‘but you would have to clone a male and female though, unless you plan to go on cloning over and over again to keep the species going.’ Wise words from a wise man.
14. He’s A Big Flirt!
Image source / dailymail
When Cameron Diaz appeared on the Graham Norton Chat Show in the UK, along with Sir David, she mentioned that she grew up always wanting to be a zoologist. David’s cheeky response was that he could teach her all sorts of things! They both ended up laughing after the flirtatious words.
15. He Played Peek-Boo With A Sloth!
Image source / BuzzFeed
This may not be quite the game we know and play today! Back in 2002, during the making of ‘The Life of Mammals’, David climbed up a tree in the South American rainforest just so that he could say ‘boo’ to a sloth! It didn’t seem to be impressed though, staring back at him and then carrying on moving at 5 feet an hour!
16. Sir David Has Many University Degrees
Image source / Twitter
The legendary broadcaster holds an incredible 32 honorary degrees from universities around the UK, including Oxford and Cambridge. By January 2013, Attenborough had collected more honorary degrees than anyone else. He keeps them in a drawer in his library and feels it’s a real compliment from the academic world to have received them.
17. He’s visited the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef!
Image source / YouTube
Sir David boarded a new type of submarine which took him 1000 feet below the sea’s surface to take a closer look at the very bottom of the Barrier Reef which has an area the size of Italy. There are over 1500 species of fish, 600 coral species and 30 different whale and dolphin species!
18. A Grouse Knocked Him Over In Scotland!
Image source / Beano
When he was filming ‘The Life of Birds’ in 1998, in the Scottish Highlands, David Attenborough happened to enter the territory of a Capercaillie which is the largest species of grouse in the world. In a bid to protect its territory, one of the birds managed to knock David over as it chased him away!
19. He’s Thrifty!
Image source / Yahoo News
Everyone can be thrifty at times, whether it’s out of necessity or just wanting bargain. Back in the day, as an 11 year old David got himself a deal, selling newts to University College, Leicester, for 3 old pennies. The newts came from a pond only 15 feet away from the university’s zoology department!
20. He Wears The Same Clothes
Image source / The Times
He loves a blue shirt and a pair of chinos! Sir David always packs, as quoted by him, ‘the same clothes: a blue shirt and chinos.’ He once forgot these but luckily found a store in a small town in the Jura Mountains, Switzerland, who stocked a similar attire, so he was able to relax!
21. He Wasn’t A Fan Of George W. Bush
Image source / Politico
As if the former US President didn’t have enough enemies during his time in office, as part of his own war on terror, Attenborough named George W. Bush as the era’s top ‘environmental villain’. In an interview with BBC Wildlife Magazine, in 2005, he discussed how his family had been at the forefront of global tragedy. Sir David sadly lost his niece and grand-niece in 2004 to the Thailand tsunami.
22. Sir David Was born In The Same Year As The Late Queen Of England
Image source / Daily Express
Sir David Frederick Attenborough was born in Isleworth, West London on May 8, 1926. Queen Elizabeth was born just a few weeks before, on April 21! Besides having their year of birth in common, Sir David and the late Queen shared many meetings, both professional and socially.
23. He Studied Natural Sciences At University!
Image source / Twitter
Rather than following in his brother’s footsteps, David went on to study Natural Sciences at Clare College in Cambridge, United Kingdom. He graduated in 1947 and then served for two years in the Royal Navy, as part of his National Service. On leaving, he started work at an educational publishing house.
24. He’s Won Lots Of BAFTA Awards
Image source / BBC
Over his very long, successful career, Sir David has scooped BAFTA awards over many different eras and is the only person to win for shows that have been screened in black and white, colour, HD and 3D! For someone who wasn’t initially interested in being in front of the camera, he’s done pretty well!
25. He Was Knighted In 1985
Image source / Twitter
Sir David originally became a Sir in 1985 when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to broadcasting. He then received a second knighthood from the late Queen in 2020 at the tender age of 94! He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George. This accolade was in recognition of his services to television, broadcasting and conservation.
26. In 1947 He Spent 2 Years In The Royal Navy
Image source / Daily Mail
After graduating from Cambridge with a degree in Natural Sciences, Attenborough chose to spend his 2 years of national service in the Navy, as his first venture in world exploration. The military wasn’t where his heart was and he was itching to get back to discover the natural world.
27. He Works With Different Museums
Image source / BBC
Sir David is a trustee of some of London’s top institutions and attractions. These include the British Museum, the Science Museum and the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. He’s also a named patron for many charities which he takes very seriously in promoting and helping fundraising.
28. He’s Got A Musical Streak
Image source / Live About
Rumor has it that Sir David never actually watched The Old Grey Whistle Test’, even though he was the one to commission the music show in the UK. He is, however, a big fan of Emmylou Harris, describing her as ‘the greatest female singer since Ella Fitzgerald.’ He also worked on two musicals about the environment.
29. Plants And Animals Are Named After Him
Image source / Atlas Obscura
Sir David has more than 10 plants and animals named after him. One of them, Nepenthes Attenboroughii, is a giant carnivorous plant that devours animals as big as rats! There’s also a polar research vessel in his name, RRS Sir David Attenborough. This is a true testament of the admiration that professionals have for him.
30. He Hates Being Called A National Treasure
Image source / You Gov
Sir David is regularly called a ‘national treasure’. His response to a journalist was, ‘You needn’t bother with that. People like animals, they care for the natural world, they don’t like industrial pollution. So for those reasons, they are sympathetic towards me. It’s no more than that.’ That’s modesty for you!