David Attenborough: I'm the luckiest soul
LONDON — In 2005, when he was about to turn 80, Sir David Attenborough — possibly TV’s most popular nature show presenter — announced that his next blockbuster, Life In Cold Blood, would be his last major TV series. After that, he would retire.
Yet eight years later, Attenborough’s prodigious TV output shows no sign even of slowing down or stopping.
“I am the luckiest soul I can think of,” said Attenborough. “I am 87, and I know a lot of people who are 87, good friends of mine who are 87, who can’t get out of a chair. And it’s not because they’re evil, or done bad things ... they’re great people. It’s just — I’m lucky. And it would seem almost ungrateful not to be doing it, if you can do it.”
In person, it’s clear that Attenborough is far from past it. his new show, called David Attenborough’s Rise Of Animals: Triumph Of The Vertebrates, sees him travel around the world, tracing the evolution of creatures with backbones. In China, he was the first person to film two fossils that have filled crucial missing links in that evolutionary chain.
But Attenborough brushed aside talk that it was his popularity that helped secure this television scoop. “I think they thought: Here’s somebody who doesn’t necessarily want to attack us politically, and is interested in an animal apart from the giant panda. The Chinese don’t know who I am from a hole in the ground.”
Attenborough has two more TV projects on the go, but even he can’t go on forever. So is Professor Brian Cox — who also hosts TV shows such as Wonders Of The Universe — a worthy sucessor, as Attenborough seemed to imply at an event honouring his work last year?
“I said, ‘Well thank you very much — and, if I had a torch for science programmes, I’d hand it on to you’.
“And if I’d been clever enough, I should have added, ‘But not yet, professor!’” The Daily Telegraph