David Attenborough: “If I had a torch I would hand it to Brian Cox”

Cox "lost for words" after the 86-year-old broadcasting legend says the TV scientist is his natural successor

TV scientist Brian Cox has admitted he was lost for words after Sir David Attenborough hailed him as his natural successor.


“If I had a torch I would hand it to Brian,” Attenborough told a star-studded audience at the annual Radio Times Covers Party at Claridge’s Hotel in London last night.

The 86-year-old naturalist and presenter was responding after Cox paid him a touching tribute to mark his 60th anniversary in broadcasting.

The audience cheered as Cox acclaimed Attenborough for his “inspirational” role in explaining the importance of science.

“There are many, many scientists across the world who cite David’s programmes as being the original inspiration that got them into science,” Cox told the 300-strong audience. “He’s contributed to science, and thereby contributed to society, to Britain and indeed the world. That’s what great science communicators can do. It’s very important for us in our industry to recognise that when you do great things as Sir David has done continually for 60 years, they genuinely make a difference to the world in which we live. Sir David, thank you for inspiring me.”

Attenborough, who’s just returned from a filming trip to China and attended the party with his daughter Susan, was clearly moved by the tribute and responded by holding his presentation cover aloft and describing Cox as the man to eventually replace him.

Shortly afterwards Cox told RT that he was honoured by Attenborough’s comments.


“Obviously I couldn’t have expected that. David is not ready to pass on the torch yet, that’s the first thing to say – I’m sure he’s got many more series he’s going to make. But it’s an honour. I’m actually lost for words and I’m rarely lost for words…”