Dip­ping a toe back in the wa­ter:

Sir David At­ten­bor­ough re­turns with Blue Planet 2.

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

In the UK, Sir David At­ten­bor­ough is ha­bit­u­ally re­ferred to as a ‘na­tional trea­sure’. So how does he feel about the la­bel?

“What does ‘na­tional trea­sure’ mean?” he replies, with a twinkle in his eye. “Noth­ing, ex­cept that peo­ple are favourably dis­posed to­wards you. You’re not be­ing elected. You haven’t got the power to be­come Prime Min­is­ter. The prob­lem is that you are cred­ited with more wis­dom and ap­pre­hen­sion than is the case – which is quite easy ac­tu­ally. Peo­ple think you know ev­ery­thing but, of course, you don’t.

“It’s a TV im­age and a very one-di­men­sional im­age at that. You cer­tainly don’t get more money for be­ing a na­tional trea­sure. There is no na­tional trea­sure pre­mium.”

At­ten­bor­ough pauses be­fore he bursts into in­fec­tious laugh­ter. “It’s a na­tional scan­dal.”

It is said that you should never meet your heroes, but I’m de­lighted to have met this one. In per­son,

At­ten­bor­ough is ex­actly the way you’d hope he would be: charis­matic, com­pelling and charm­ing.

Of course, one of the many rea­sons why peo­ple have been moved to call him a na­tional trea­sure is be­cause of such land­mark BBC se­ries as

Blue Planet. Broad­cast in 2001, the multi-award-win­ning se­ries fronted by At­ten­bor­ough made a splash all over the world.

Now, a gen­er­a­tion on, the BBC’s cam­eras have gone back to th­ese un­der­wa­ter worlds for Blue

Planet 2. Fea­tur­ing even more breath­tak­ing film­ing and a fresh cast of un­canny aquatic an­i­mals, this epic seven-part se­ries took four years to shoot off ev­ery con­ti­nent, and in all of the Earth’s oceans. The re­sult plunges the au­di­ence into some of the most cap­ti­vat­ing but least ex­plored parts of our planet.

Blue Planet 2 sparks At­ten­bor­ough’s mag­netic sense of won­der about the nat­u­ral world – a sen­sa­tion that, over 63 years of

mak­ing TV, he has never lost. He en­thuses that, “Ex­pe­ri­ence has taught me how amaz­ingly big and un­pre­dictable the nat­u­ral world is. When you’re young, you think you know it all about the nat­u­ral world – ‘Yawn, yawn, ev­ery­one knows about that’.

“But, in fact, we only know a tiny pro­por­tion about the com­plex­ity of the nat­u­ral world. Wher­ever you look, there are still things we don’t know about and don’t un­der­stand ... There are al­ways new things to find out if you go look­ing for them.”

Blue Planet 2 fea­tures stun­ning sights such as meth­ane vol­ca­noes which ex­plode in the Gulf of Mexico and the so-called “boil­ing sea” phe­nom­e­non in the Pa­cific Ocean.

The se­ries fea­tures re­mark­able crea­tures, in­clud­ing hairy-chested Hoff crabs, snub-fin dol­phins that spit wa­ter through the air, and a tool-us­ing tusk fish – all filmed for the first time.

Also, there are as­ton­ish­ing ex­am­ples of be­hav­iour, such as the ad­vanced hunt­ing ac­tiv­ity of a co­ral grouper and a reef oc­to­pus, a gi­ant trevally that can catch fly­ing birds in mid-air, and a sperm whale mother and calf div­ing deep into the abyss on a hunt­ing ex­pe­di­tion.

At­ten­bor­ough is said to have trav­elled fur­ther than any other hu­man, apart from as­tro­nauts, and yet his trade­mark pas­sion shows no sign of wan­ing. What is most ap­peal­ing is that even af­ter such a stel­lar ca­reer, he does not take any­thing for granted.

The pre­sen­ter, who in 2006 was voted the Great­est Liv­ing Bri­tish Icon by view­ers of BBC2’s The Cul­ture Show, ob­serves that, “I can think of an aw­ful lot of my own con­tem­po­raries who got into jobs where, af­ter 10 or 20 years, they were think­ing, ‘I’ve had enough of this’. But they’re stuck with it be­cause it’s what their ca­reer is and they have a pen­sion. They’re count­ing the years off till they get to 65, and then they do noth­ing but play golf.”

By con­trast, he con­tin­ues, “I’m fan­tas­ti­cally lucky. I think, ‘Oh, I’ll go to the Ama­zon next year – why not?’ I’m more grate­ful than I can say that peo­ple still want me to do things.”

As he pre­pares to make more doc­u­men­taries, he shud­ders at the word ‘re­tire­ment’. “You never tire of the nat­u­ral world. Putting your feet up is all very well ...”

Cast­ing me one last smile, At­ten­bor­ough con­cludes: “But it’s very bor­ing, isn’t it?”

Above: A su­per­pod of sperm whales gather­ing off the coast of Sri Lanka.

A gi­ant trevally hunts a fly­ing bird.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.