Sir David Attenborough said ‘internal BBC politics’ made him take wildlife programme work outside the UK

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Sir David Attenborough said ‘internal BBC politics’ was part of the reason he chose to document wildlife abroad rather than the UK

Sir David Attenborough has been an icon on British TV since the start of his career in 1951. However, he has rarely released programmes that centre around the wildlife found on his home ground. However, his latest project with the BBC is a five-part series called Wild Isles which shines a light on the impressive nature surrounding the UK.

Attenborough has become the face of natural history programming which began with Animal Patterns, before fronting landmark series such as Blue Planet and Planet Earth. The 96-year-old discussed why he has rarely worked in the UK on his documentaries with presenter Chris Packham for Winterwatch. When asked whether he had always wanted to make a series about British wildlife, Sir David responded: “Well, yes, and it’s just internal BBC politics.”

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He added: “I joined in 1952, and television was restricted to London only. Bristol had a Natural History Unit on the radio but it didn’t have television. So we had a great meeting and they said, ‘Look here, you’re doing natural history and I think we should come to some agreement on this, because when television comes here we want to do natural history television. Tell you what, we’ll do British natural history, and you can do all this stuff in Africa.’ And I said, ‘That suits me down to the ground’ so this is a great ambition fulfilled.”

During his appearance on Winterwatch Sir David also addressed the lack of action taken on climate change, saying: “The first half we’ve done. The United Nations, world leaders, people saying the right things, doing the right things, but I don’t see the results.”

Sir David Attenborough (left) speaking to the presenter Chris Packham for Winterwatch. (Photo credit: BBC/PA Wire)Sir David Attenborough (left) speaking to the presenter Chris Packham for Winterwatch. (Photo credit: BBC/PA Wire)
Sir David Attenborough (left) speaking to the presenter Chris Packham for Winterwatch. (Photo credit: BBC/PA Wire)

He continued: “We just have to keep the pressure on, whether we’re winning or losing, we should be doing all we possibly can. And I think that we are. Lots of people are, all over, all kinds of organisations.”

The iconic broadcaster and naturalist has had a career spanning decades with incredible achievements, and has used his platform to improve awareness of issues facing the natural world.

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However, in the interview Attenborough revealed he doesn’t believe he will personally “have a long-lasting legacy”, adding: “But I think that the policy of the BBC of putting on natural history at peak hours and so on, with your programmes and my programmes, has actually raised an awareness of the natural world in British people, which is quite remarkable. It’s an awareness which I don’t think exists anywhere else actually.”

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