Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild

Understanding the Natural World

Series 1 - Episode 2 Understanding the Natural World



Here’s a sobering thought: when David Attenborough started out in television, the origins of life were unknown, the structure of DNA had yet to be discovered, and the idea of tectonic plates shifting the continents was mocked (“Pure moonshine, dear boy,” scoffed Attenborough’s geology professor at Cambridge).

“I have lived through an era of extraordinary scientific discoveries,” sighs the presenter contentedly, as he sets out to show how his programmes have, over the years, explained and explored new discoveries, from chimpanzee “culture” to DNA fingerprinting. We get to see him howling like a wolf in Minnesota, snuggling up to meerkats in the Kalahari and charming tribespeople in his search for birds of paradise in New Guinea.

It’s an agreeable mix of archive and anecdotage. Look out for a wonderful scene with the great man next to a row of stuffed giraffe heads, ranged like bowling pins in a storeroom at the Natural History Museum.


David Attenborough reflects on scientific discoveries in his lifetime that have transformed the way the natural world is viewed - including evidence of how and where life began, the ways in which continents move, and research into animal communication and behaviour. He also recalls some of his more hair-raising attempts to bring new science to a television audience, and clips show him standing in the shadow of an erupting volcano and being charged at by a group of armed New Guinea tribesmen.

Cast & Crew

Presenter David Attenborough
Executive Producer Alastair Fothergill
Series Producer Miles Barton