Sir David Attenborough is the latest signatory to admit this week’s open letter to David Cameron defending the BBC was orchestrated by the Corporation itself.
Following revelations from Michael Palin and Annie Nightingale, the veteran broadcaster told Radio 4’s Today he had been asked by the Beeb to put his name to the plea which was also signed by JK Rowling, Daniel Craig and Judi Dench and called on the government not to “diminish” the BBC .
“It’s like all these things – if you’re a public thing you get a letter written by various people,” explained Attenborough. “I don’t know who it was written by, I was sent a copy of it and it seemed to me to be common sense and I gladly put my name to it.”
But speaking to Today’s Mishal Hussain, the 89-year-old supported the Corporation’s efforts to rally its advocates, adding: “The BBC has to defend itself and quite properly. Like any institution, if you want to have your supporters’ voice heard, you go about helping that to happen and that’s a perfectly proper thing to happen.”
When questioned whether – as a broadcaster and former controller of BBC2 – he had any concerns about the BBC’s current size and scope, Attenborough replied, “Of course. The broadcasting landscape is changing and changing radically and broadcasting organisations have to change in order to deal with that properly so it’s quite right and proper that the function of the BBC in detail should change as the landscape changes.”
But he stressed: “It’s fundamental function of providing public service broadcasting hasn’t changed.”
“There’s no doubt at all that President Obama personally is absolutely convinced of the gravity of the situation that is facing the world,” Attenborough told Today. “But he’s not an entirely free agent, he’s not a dictator – the political structure in the United States is a complex one and there are very strong forces marshalled against him.”
David Attenborough is appearing at the Radio Times Festival.Tickets are available from the official website (click here or on the banner below for details). The festival runs 24-27 September on The Green at Hamption Court Palace.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news