TV review: Attenborough at 90, BBC One
- Henry Northmore
- 3 May 2016
Cosy celebration of the world's greatest TV naturalist
When people talk about national treasures few can lay to the claim to the title with such authority as Sir David Attenborough. For years the beloved documentarian has guided us through the many wonders of the natural world. Educating and enthralling viewers since he first appeared on the BBC in 1954 with ground-breaking shows such as Zoo Quest, Life on Earth, The Trials of Life, Blue Planet, Africa and The Hunt. Attenborough's involvement is a stamp of quality. And that voice. Those mellifluous tones have become the voice of wildlife television in the UK, and around the globe.
The Queen might have turned 90 the other week but Attenborough's landmark birthday is something the entire country can get behind celebrating. The BBC mark the occasion with a series of shows and this one-hour special featuring Kirsty Young in conversation with Attenborough discussing his life, career and love of the environment. From his days pioneering new TV formats as the controller of BBC Two, most notably the long form documentary series, before concentrating on what he does best, bringing nature to life in our living rooms.
Sharing the universal love in, Michael Palin and Chris Packham pop up in the studio while Prince William, astronaut Tim Peake, Sting, Olivia Colman, Graham Norton and (never one to miss PR opp) David Cameron are amongst the talking heads. Another treat is Aardman Animation's cute tribute to Attenborough's classic gorilla encounter from Life on Earth.
60 minutes could never do justice to over 60 years of broadcasting. It might lack depth but Attenborough at 90 is a warm and cosy celebration of an astounding career. It's almost impossible to believe he's 90. He's hardly slowed down, with Planet Earth II coming soon. Attenborough's still a wonderful storyteller and as per usual it's an absolute pleasure to spend an hour in the company of such an inspiring, passionate and knowledgeable broadcaster.
A giant of the medium. And like any true master he makes it look effortless. British broadcasting would be a much poorer place without him. Sir David the nation salutes you.
Attenborough at 90, BBC One, Sun 8 May, 7pm.