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David Attenborough is an English broadcaster, writer, and a well-known face and voice of natural history documentaries. The Life series that Attenborough wrote and produced became the standard for modern nature documentaries.
See the fact file below for more information on the David Attenborough or alternatively, you can download our 25-page David Attenborough worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY
- Born as David Frederick Attenborough on May 8, 1926 in a suburb London, England, Attenborough is the second of three boys born to university principal Frederick and writer Mary.
- David Attenborough’s older brother, Richard, was an Academy Award-winning actor and director, and his younger brother, John, was a successful financial advisor and top executive at a famous Italian car company.
- At the age of seven, Attenborough developed a fascination with the natural world, owning a collection of bird eggs and fossils.
- In 1936, Attenborough attended a lecture by a famous naturalist, Grey Owl, which deepened his interest in the natural world.
- Attenborough graduated from Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys and was awarded a scholarship to study natural sciences.
- Attenborough studied Zoology and Geology at the University of Cambridge.
- In 1947, upon completing his studies, Attenborough was called to serve in the Royal Navy for two years.
- Attenborough spent two years stationed in North Wales and the Fifth of Forth.
- In 1950, Attenborough married Jane Elizabeth Ebsworth Oriel, and had two children, Robert and Susan.
- Jane Oriel died in 1997.
- Attenborough’s son, Robert, is a lecturer in bioanthropology at the Australian National University.
- Attenborough’s daughter, Susan, is a former primary school headmistress.
- In 1949, after serving in the Royal Navy, Attenborough worked as an editor for children’s textbooks for a publishing company.
- The following year, he applied for a job as a radio producer at the BBC.
- His application was rejected at first, but his profile later attracted the interest of the head of the Talks department, Mary Adams.
- Attenborough attended a three-month training program with the BBC.
- In 1952, Attenborough officially started working as a producer for the Talks department, which handled non-fiction broadcasts.
- Two of Attenborough’s early projects were the quiz show Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?, and Song Hunter, a series about folk music.
- Later on, Attenborough co-hosted a program with naturalist Julian Huxley called The Pattern of Animals, which featured animals from London Zoo.
- Through the show, Attenborough met the curator of London Zoo’s reptile house, Jack Lester, and they launched a series called Zoo Quest in 1954.
- Zoo Quest showed animals not only in captivity but also in the wild, while maintaining a respectful distant approach to the animals. This strategy established the current general standards for nature documentaries.
- Due to the immense success of Zoo Quest, BBC established its Natural History Unit in 1957.
- In the early 1960s, Attenborough left the BBC and studied Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics.
- In 1965, BBC Two was created and they offered Attenborough a position as controller, resulting in Attenborough not finishing his degree.
- Attenborough launched an educational series called The Ascent of Man and Civilisation.
- Attenborough also signed up a comedy series called Monty Python’s Flying Circus, starring John Cleese and Terry Gilliam.
- In 1970, Attenborough received the Desmond Davis Award from the British Academy.
- In 1972, Attenborough resigned from his post at the BBC to follow his dreams and passions into the wild.
- After leaving the BBC, Attenborough worked as a freelance writer and producer, producing successful programs including Eastwards with Attenborough (1973), which showed an anthropological study of Indonesia.
- In 1976, Attenborough’s program titled Life on Earth was first aired.
- Life on Earth is a 96-episode series studying the role of evolution in nature.
- Life on Earth took Attenborough and his crews around the globe, where they used cutting-edge filming techniques to bring wildlife into homes worldwide.
- Life on Earth gained an estimated viewing audience of over 500 million.
- Life on Earth’s success made Attenborough a household name, which allowed him to write, produce, and host countless other series.
- Five years later, The Living Planet was screened, which revolved around the theme of ecology and the adaptations of living things to their environment.
- In 1990, the original Life trilogy was completed with the release of The Trials of Life, which looked at the behavior of animals through the different stages of life.
- In 1993, Attenborough presented the first television series to survey the natural history of Antarctica, Life in the Freezer.
- In 1995, The Private Life of Plants was delivered by Attenborough which showed plants as dynamic organisms using time-lapse photography to show their growth, and earned a Peabody Award.
- In 1998, Attenborough bagged another Peabody Award with The Life of Birds, which looked at the behavior of birds.
- In 2002, Attenborough revealed the behavior of nocturnal mammals in The Life of Mammals.
- In 2005, Attenborough introduced audiences to the world of invertebrates through Life in the Undergrowth.
- In 2005, a 24-disc DVD box set containing the first eight titles from the Life series was released.
- In 2008, Attenborough completed his Life series with the release of Life in Cold Blood.
- Alongside the Life series, Attenborough also worked on other television documentaries, particularly about natural history.
- In 1987, Attenborough released The First Eden, which is about man’s influence on the natural history of the Mediterranean basin.
- In 1989, Attenborough presented his passion for fossils through Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives.
- In 2000, Attenborough used the latest scientific evidence and interviews with leading scientists and conservationists to study the impact of man’s activities on the natural world in State of the Planet.
- In 2001, Attenborough worked alongside Alastair Fothergill for The Blue Planet, BBC Natural History Unit’s first comprehensive program on marine life.
- Attenborough also presented a documentary about the issues of global warming, The Truth about Climate Change.
- In 2019, Attenborough narrated Our Planet for Netflix, an eight-part documentary series.
- Attenborough also worked on environmentally-themed musicals with the WWF. The first was Yanomamo, which talked about the Amazon rainforest, and the second was Ocean World, which premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in 1991.
- In May 2005, Attenborough was appointed as patron of the UK’s Blood Pressure Association that provides information and support to people with hypertension.
- In January 2009, Attenborough was commissioned by the BBC to provide a series of 20 ten-minute monologues about the history of nature.
- Attenborough also became a patron of Population Matters, formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust, a charity that advocates sustainable human populations.
- Attenborough also serves on the advisory board of BBC Wildlife magazine and is an honorary member of BSES Expeditions, a youth development charity that operates challenging scientific research expeditions.
- In 1972, Attenborough received a Cherry Kearton Medal and Award from the Royal Geographical Society.
- In 1973, Attenborough was invited to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on The Language of Animals.
- Attenborough received an honorary Doctor of Science award from the University of Cambridge in 1984, and from the University of Oxford in 1988.
- In 1993, paleontologist Robert Bakker discovered that the reptile Plesiosaurus conybeari did not belong to the genus Plesiosaurus, and renamed it Attenborosaurus conybeari.
- In 2006, Attenborough was named the most trusted celebrity in the UK in a Reader’s Digest poll.
- In 2007, Attenborough won The Culture Show’s Living Icon Award.
- In September 2009, the Attenborough Studio was opened in London’s Natural History Museum.
- In 2010, Attenborough received a Queensland Museum Medal.
- In 2015, Attenborough received his individual Peabody Award.
- Attenborough received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Narrator for two consecutive years, 2018 and 2019.
- In 2019, Attenborough received a Lifetime Achievement award from the TV Choice Awards.
David Attenborough Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the David Attenborough across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use David Attenborough worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about David Attenborough who is an English broadcaster, writer, and a well-known face and voice of natural history documentaries. The Life series that Attenborough wrote and produced became the standard for modern nature documentaries.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- David Attenborough Facts
- More on Him
- Arrange the Life
- Complete the Tree
- Fill the Spaces
- Guess Them All
- Feed the Birds
- Create Your Own Documentary
- Meet Them
- Draw It
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