Sunday 22 April 2018

Remember the sloth stare off? David Attenborough turns 90 - his top 8 TV moments

Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

The living legend that is David Attenborough turns 90 today and to celebrate his wisdom, wit and that wonderful voice, we've compiled a list of some of his best TV moments, from battling birds to his stare off with a sloth to narrating a video in which a tortoise mounts a Croc (the shoe as opposed to the animal)...

The baby gorillas

This clip from the 2007 BBC documentary Gorillas Revisited sees Attenborough reflecting on "one of the most unforgettable moments in my career of making natural history films".

In the clip from 1979 series Life on Earth he's attempting to do a piece to camera, but is being groomed, hugged and played by some adorable baby gorillas.

"You can't talk about the opposable thumb and the importance in primate evolution of the grip if somebody's taking off your shoes. Particularly if that somebody is two baby gorillas," he says.

He narrates the shoe-mounting tortoise video

This hilarious piece of TV comes courtesy of the Graham Norton Show (where else?) as the host asks Attenborough to lend his dulcet tones to a video of a tiny tortoise attempting to copulate with a Croc.


He shares a moving story about his "strong disciplinarian" father

Attenborough reveals he was "hopeless at school" and revealed he was "really frightened" of showing his end of year school reports to his father who was a "strong disciplinarian".

"I remember going to him with my report, which of course I had steamed open and of course I knew I was bottom and it was 'good work spoiled by silly behaviour', those sort of things," he says.

His father read the report and simply replied, "I think you better go."

"That was dreadful," says Attenborough. 

The Sloth stare off

Never one to take himself too seriously, Attenborough can be seen in this clip from The life of Mammals saying 'Boo!' to a sloth, which results in a long, tense, increasingly hilarious stare off between man and mammal...

He says 'Good afternoon' to a group of 'cannibals'...

During his appearance on Parkinson he relates a story about travelling through Papa New Guinea and encountering a group of 'cannibals' and does the most British thing ever.

"I walked towards this screaming horde of men, I stuck out my hand, and I heard myself say, 'Good afternoon'."

The rat catcher story on Jonathan Ross

You could listen to Attenborough's anecdotes all day.  It's the way he tells them, and this is a gem.

He gets mistaken for a love rival - by a violent bird

In this clip from 1998 series The Life of Birds sees Attenborough comes a cropper as he goes head to head with a male capercaillie bird determined to defend his territory against this love rival intruder.

Another bird just won't let him get on with it...

Sometimes nature just doesn't play ball when you want to make a TV programme, something about which Attenborough knows plenty.  This Bird of Paradise is a case in point...

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