David Attenborough to celebrate his 90th birthday in 2016 with two new BBC programmes

Veteran naturalist shows no sign of slowing down with a new programme about the natural light created by living creatures called Light on Earth - as well as a tribute film to mark his birthday

David Attenborough has signed up to make two new BBC natural history programmes for 2016 – the year he turns 90.


The naturalist, who reaches the milestone in May 2016, will make a one-off film about living creatures which create their own light. And he will also film an interview with Kirsty Young to mark his 90th birthday with an hour-long BBC1 tribute.

Young, the presenter of Desert Island Discs who interviewed Sir David at the Radio Times Festival’s  gala opening event in September, will quiz him about his life’s work in Inspiring Attenborough: Sir David at 90.

Recorded in front of a studio audience, the programme will celebrate David’s contribution to our understanding of the natural world, and to the development of television broadcasting over the course of a career that has spanned seven decades. He will be joined by filmmakers, zoologists, conservationists, biologists, anthropologists as well as pioneers from the world of broadcasting.

Also due to air next year will be another one off special, Light on Earth, which which will examine the phenomena of so-called bioluminescence. This is the spectacular light produced by creatures such as glow-worms, fire-flies and luminous plankton.

Attenborough and a team of the world’s leading scientists will take the viewer on a quest into a world he describes as “utterly unlike our own”.

The programme will make use of brand new colour cameras which are 4,000 times more sensitive than they were a decade ago. They will also use the latest generation of deep sea submersibles and robots to venture deep into the oceans.

The film is half-way through production and already the crew have captured the bioluminescent millipede glowing on the forest floor for the first time ever, as well as images of a living dragon fish and the patterns given by a synchronous firefly in real time.

This Christmas BBC 1 will air his new programme Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough about the Australian natural wonder.

The presenter also has other BBC work coming up including a quest to find the world’s biggest dinosaur which is scheduled to air early next year.

Waking Giants will tell the story of one of the dinosaur finds of the century”, according to the BBC, when 200 bones from seven giant creatures were unearthed after lying undiscovered beneath the South American desert for 100 million years. One thighbone alone measures 2.4 metres and could belong to the largest animal to ever grace our planet.


Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Special Factual Formats, said of the new commissions: “The two new programmes demonstrate the integral role David continues to play in the success of Natural History on the BBC. With Great Barrier Reef launching soon, Waking Giants in the New Year and these two new titles for 2016, I’m delighted to have such a rich range of projects with David airing in the same year as his 90th birthday.”