David Attenborough's First Life


Series 1 - Episode 1 Arrival



David Attenborough makes everything he describes sound like the greatest story ever told. His subject in this terrific 2010 series is palaeontology, “the first chapters in the history of life”. It’s proper, non-cuddly science about fossils and body plans and fractal organisms, and it’s riveting. All the more so for dealing in unthinkable time frames: the first single-cell life forms evolved three and a half billion years ago.

As Attenborough travels from Leicester, where he grew up, to Newfoundland and Australia, there are striking visuals and creatures with magical names (charnia and fractofusus), and if it doesn’t set you thinking about the bigger picture, nothing will.


In the first of a two-part documentary, the naturalist explores the origins of life on Earth. Beginning the journey near his childhood home in Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire, he learns how a fossil discovery transformed scientists' understanding of the evolution of complex organisms, and in Newfoundland and Australia he reveals the earliest kinds of animal to exist on the planet. With the help of cutting-edge technology and visual effects, the programme brings the creatures to life, demonstrating how they survived.

Cast & Crew

Presenter David Attenborough
Series Director Martin Williams
Series Producer Anthony Geffen
Documentary Nature