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At 95, Sir David Attenborough is nominated this year for an eighth and ninth Emmy for his narration on two BBC nature series, A Perfect Planet and The Year Earth Changed.
Perhaps second only to Queen Elizabeth II for being beloved by the English, Attenborough’s fascination with the natural world started in early childhood, when he collected fossils and living reptiles on the grounds of the University of Leicester, where his father was principal. At age 8, his adoptive sister — one of two German-Jewish refugees his parents had taken in during World War II — gave him a piece of amber containing a number of tiny prehistoric creatures. (A similar scene would play out in 1993’s Jurassic Park in which his late brother, Sir Richard Attenborough, played an industrialist who used amber-trapped mosquitos to clone dinosaurs.)
David joined the BBC in 1952 and soon after hosted a number of programs featuring animals from the London Zoo. By 1969, he was BBC’s director of programmes and was offered the job of director-general in 1973. Instead, he resigned to focus full time on creating his masterpiece: a collection of bar-raising wildlife documentaries, known as the Life series, starting with 1979’s Life on Earth. The series’ most recent entry is 2021’s Life in Colour, which Attenborough narrates in trademark style — slightly hushed and transfixed by the wonders of nature.
This story first appeared in a August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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