David Attenborough pays tribute to his “very very funny” brother Richard

“The thing that I’m sorry about is that actually Dick was a marvellous comic actor. He was very, very funny... We just spent all our time roaring with laughter”

Sir David Attenborough has paid public tribute to his older brother Richard for the first time since his death in August.


In an interview with Radio Times magazine, the veteran naturalist and broadcaster paints a warm and tender portrait of his actor and film director sibling who died in August at the age of 90.

Speaking about their early interests growing up in the East Midlands, Sir David said of his brother: “I would be going out looking for magpies or newts or something, and Dick would be working at the local amateur theatre, which was extremely good, in Leicester. Dick was there all the time. Every night, every weekend, while I was out collecting fossils. We couldn’t have been more different.”

Sir David adds that throughout their lives they would talk to each other about their own work and be mutually supportive.

“I always used to go to his premieres, and he always watched my shows, and we always talked to one another about what we did and what the problems were,” he said.

Attenborough added that he believed his brother’s best film was the 1969 music-laden elegy about the 1914-1918 conflict, Oh! What a Lovely War.

“No cinema film that I know of had anything like the bravura and the energy and the invention as he put into that,” said Sir David.

The naturalist also paid tribute to his brother’s acting abilities, which were seen in leading roles in films such as Brighton Rock and The Great Escape before he forged his career as a film director.

“The thing that I’m sorry about is that actually Dick was a marvellous comic actor. He was very, very funny, and could be – and was – in domestic circumstances. We just spent all our time roaring with laughter – and that didn’t get much of an outlet in his feature films. I mean, Christmas time, you know, we just sat around, roaring with laughter.”

A much-loved figure in British film, Lord Attenborough’s highlight behind the camera was probably the 1983 film Gandhi which won eight Oscars including the statuette for best picture and best director.

He also made a memorable appearance in the 1993 movie Jurassic Park as dinosaur park developer John Hammond.


The new issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale from Tuesday 14 October in the shops and on Newsstand for iPad or iPhone