Sir David Attenborough gets a standing ovation at the Radio Times Festival’s rousing opening night gala

Veteran naturalist takes his place in the Radio Times Hall of Fame as the four-day festival kicks off in Hampton Court

Sir David Attenborough lifted the curtain on the Radio Times Festival in style with a rousing gala opening night in front of a packed house at The Green at Hampton Court.

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The veteran naturalist spoke for 90-minutes on the Main Stage to presenter Kirsty Young about his 65-year broadcasting career which began with BBC radio’s talks department in 1950 followed by his first television appearance in Zoo Quest in 1954.

Sir David also took his place in the inaugural Radio Times Hall of Fame, responding to the adulation – and a standing ovation from the 1200-strong crowd – with the words: “I have been unbelievably lucky. I have spent my life looking at all these fabulous things. The reason that the programmes I make are popular, such as they are, is because these things are fabulous and beautiful. They’re what the programmes are about, not me. I get a lot of reflected glory and I’m grateful for it but I know where the credit lies.”

He was presented with a framed cover (pictured below) by Radio Times editor Ben Preston who said he had “raised the bar for all broadcasters”.

Introducing Sir David to the stage, Preston said: “He is a man who epitomises quality television itself. He has informed, educated and entertained us all.”

The honour marks a career where his name has become a byword for natural history programmes. He is also the only person in history to win Baftas for programmes made in black and white, in colour, in HD and in 3D.

He also worked as an executive including a stint as controller of BBC2 where he introduced a range of programmes to the schedule including The Old Grey Whistle Test and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Sir David’s appetite for programming remains undiminished even as he approaches his 90th birthday in May next year. Recently he has worked with other broadcasters making Conquest of the Skies 3D and Kingdom of Plants 3D with Sky and Natural Curiosities for the UKTV channel Eden.

But he is due to return to BBC1 with the landmark show The Hunt later this autumn. As RadioTimes.com revealed last November, the series promises to offer a thrilling examination of predators and their prey operating in the tundra, forests, open ocean and polar regions.

Thursday night’s gala opening kicked off a star-studded four-day Festival with a range of stars from the small screen and the literary world making an appearance over the next three days.

These include Peter Capaldi, Andrew Marr, Simon Schama, Steven Moffat, David Walliams, Peter Kosminsky, Russell T Davies and many many more…

To book tickets go to radiotimes.com/radiotimesfestival.

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