BBC to air four of David Attenborough’s “passion projects” to mark his 90th birthday

The veteran broadcaster and naturalist has picked out his favourite series from more than 60 years of filmmaking

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A week of programmes to celebrate the 90th birthday of Sir David Attenborough will air across BBC1, BBC2 and BBC4 later this month. 

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Two new shows – Attenborough at 90 and Life That Glows – will join the re-airing of four documentaries from his long career, as well as never before seen colour footage from his 1964 TV programme Zoo Quest, as exclusively revealed by RadioTimes.com yesterday.

Attenborough’s birthday falls on 8th May and the veteran broadcaster has personally chosen his four “passion projects” from a back catalogue of more than 60 years of filmmaking to mark the occasion. They are:  

A Blank on the Map – BBC2, 7th May

First transmitted in 1971, A Blank on the Map follows David on an expedition into the heart of previously unexplored territory in New Guinea. As well as unusual wildlife and strange animals like the tree kangaroo, David and the team find the Biami Tribe,  a group never before seen by Europeans.

The Lost Gods of Easter Island – BBC2, 7th May

Shown in 2000, The Lost Gods of Easter Island sees David embark on a mission to uncover the history of a strange wooden figurine, which turned up in an auction in New York during the 1980s. David journeys from Russia to Australia, from England to the Pacific to trace the origins of the Easter Island artefact.

Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives – BBC2, 14th May

1989’s Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives takes David to the world’s most famous fossil sites, as he meets fossil hunters and expert palaeontologists. Keep an eye out for 1989 CGI trying to bring pre-historic Earth to life.

Darwin’s Tree of Life – BBC2, 14th May

In the 2009 film Darwin’s Tree of Life, David asks three key questions: how and why did Darwin come up with his theory of evolution? Why do we think he was right? And why is it more important now than ever before?

David traces the life of Darwin, from the scientist’s childhood home in Kent to his days at Cambridge University.


As previously announced, Attenborough’s birthday season will also include Attenborough at 90, airing on BBC1 on 8th May, where Kirsty Young talks to Sir David in front of a studio audience about his career, the inspiring people he’s met and the extraordinary encounters he’s enjoyed with animals across the globe. 

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Life that Glows is a new programme, narrated by Attenborough, which explores bioluminescence – light made by living things – looking at glow worms, fire flies, rare dragon fish and more. It will air on 9th May.