It was hard to tell who were the most feted guests – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or the King of natural history. David Attenborough was, of course, the one showing respectful deference, but you sensed that William and Kate were just as honoured to meet him.
"What creatures can we expect to see in the film?" she asked him excitedly before sitting down with William, donning 3D glasses and watching the 87-year-old presenter’s latest adventure.
The location was London’s Natural History Museum – which Attenborough described as a “treasure house of wonders” – where the Sky 3D documentary is set. It opens with Attenborough duping a guard and remaining behind in the museum after the doors have closed at the end of the day. Then he watches, enthralled, as exhibits long since extinct are brought back to life with the help of computer technology.
Because the creatures are actually resurrected in the film studio, Attenborough is involved in a bit of playful acting. “You do feel pretty daft,” he admitted of his on-screen antics, though he revealed he had done some acting as a schoolboy. “I was a butler once and in my younger years a maid!”
The documentary airs on New Year’s Day, but the naturalist confirmed he is already working on a companion project.
“We are right at this moment working on a new series that will look at the way flight has developed in the natural world, from the dragons flies that flew 500 million years ago to today.”
A clip from the latest film – to be aired next Christmas – shows Attenborough excitedly describing the flight of a flock of geese above his head on a Scottish loch. “I am having a ball, it’s a thrill a minute.”
David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive 3D premieres at 6:30pm on Sky 3D and in 2D on Sky 1 HD