For the last 60 years, David Attenborough has been one of the world’s leading natural history film-makers, making landmark series including Life on Earth, Blue Planet and Galapagos 3D, which have been seen by billions of people across the planet. His extraordinary career has spanned black and white, colour, high-definition (HD) and 3D formats and his films have won multiple Emmys and British Academy (BAFTA) awards. David was knighted by the Queen in 1985 and was given Britain’s highest honour, the Order of Merit, which is limited to 24 people around the world. He has also received numerous other awards and is a fellow of the Royal Society.
In Britain, David Attenborough is considered a national treasure and has recently been voted Britain’s most popular trusted person. David’s films continue to push the boundaries of camera technology and CGI in factual storytelling. His latest ambitious multimedia projects include both apps and virtual reality, which both entertain and educate global audiences of all ages.
David joined the BBC in 1952 and within several years created his acclaimed ZooQuest series, filming wild animals in their natural habitat for the very first time. By 1965 he was Controller of BBC Two and responsible for the introduction of colour television into Britain. In 1973 he left BBC senior management to return to his passion of programme-making. The internationally acclaimed 13-part series Life On Earth was the most ambitious series that had ever been produced by the BBC’s Natural History Unit, and created the famous ‘landmark’ format that continues to make the Natural History Unit world renowned to this day. Throughout the 1990s, David presented natural history series to huge global audiences, including Life in the Freezer (1993), The Private Life of Plants (1995) and The Life of Birds (1998). In autumn 2000, David presented State Of The Planet and a year later, The Blue Planet. In 2002, he presented the immensely popular Life of Mammals, followed by Life in the Undergrowth. In 2006, he narrated the much celebrated blue-chip series, Planet Earth, followed in 2011 by the seven-part Frozen Planet series for the BBC and Discovery.
In 2010, Sir David created the award-winning series First Life with Atlantic Productions for the BBC and Discovery Channel. The series took him back to the origins of animal life, and marked a new turn in his career by embracing the very latest techniques available in CGI and fossil analysis. It was the first factual series to ever win three Emmy Awards. Further projects with Atlantic have included the BAFTA-award winning Flying Monsters 3D (2011) and Natural History Museum Alive 3D (2014).
Sir David’s latest BBC series have included the landmark series Africa (2013) and Life Story (2014). The first BBC natural history series to be filmed entirely in ultra HD (4K), Life Story delivered the highest quality images ever seen in a wildlife documentary. Most recently, Attenborough’s Birds of Paradise (2015) saw Sir David offer his own personal take on one of his lifelong passions. He was the first to film many of their beautiful and often bizarre displays and has spent a lifetime tracking them all over the jungles of New Guinea and Indonesia.
Alastair Fothergill was educated at Harrow School and the universities of St Andrew’s and Durham. He joined the BBC Natural History Unit in 1983 and has worked on a wide range of the department’s programmes, including the BAFTA award-winning The Really Wild Show, Wildlife on One, The Natural World and the innovative Reefwatch, where he was one of the team that developed the first live broadcasting from beneath the sea.
Alastair went on to work on the BBC One series, The Trials of Life, with Sir David Attenborough. In 1993 he produced Life in the Freezer, a six-part series for BBC One celebrating the wildlife of the Antarctic, presented by Sir David Attenborough. While still working on this series, he was appointed head of the BBC Natural History Unit in November 1992, aged 32.
In June 1998 he stood down as head of the unit to concentrate on his role as series producer of Blue Planet, a landmark series on the natural history of the world’s oceans. In 2001 Alastair become director of development for the Natural History Unit.
In 2002 he co-presented Going Ape, a film that took Alastair to the Ivory Coast in Africa. He has produced Deep Blue, a cinematic movie of the world’s oceans and he was one of the presenters and executive producer of the innovative live broadcast, Live from the Abyss.
He was series producer for the Natural History Unit’s landmark series, Planet Earth, the ultimate portrait of our planet. He subsequently co-directed the cinematic version, Earth, to great worldwide acclaim.
He was executive producer on the Unit’s major landmark series Frozen Planet, a natural history of the polar regions, which aired to record audiences and critical acclaim in autumn 2011.
In addition to his work with the BBC Natural History Unit, Alastair co-directed two cinematic movies for Disney as part of their Disneynature label. One of these movies featured the big cats of East Africa and was released in the US in April 2011 and worldwide during 2012. The second movie featured chimpanzees and was released in the US in April 2012 and worldwide in 2013.
In November 2012 Alastair left the BBC to set up his own production company, Silverback Films. He is currently co-directing two further cinema films for Disneynature.
Alastair is fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, who awarded him their gold medal in 2012. He has honorary doctorates from the universities of Durham and Hull. Alastair lives in Bristol with his wife Melinda and two teenage sons.
Huw graduated from London University with a history and politics degree – not the typical background for someone working in natural history television – but a long passion for wildlife was rewarded with a job at Partridge Films, one of the leading independent natural history film companies in the 1990s. After three years with Partridge, making educational films for National Geographic amongst others, he went on to work with Mike Birkhead Associates, where he made two BBC Natural Worlds in the US; Badlands, which involved living in a trailer house in South Dakota for a year and becoming fairly intimate with prairie dogs, and Grand Canyon, which took another year in the field.
He joined the BBC Natural History Unit in 1995 where he worked on long-running series like Wildlife on One and Big Cat Diary, as well as some of the Unit’s biggest blue-chip landmark series, including Land of the Tiger, Andes to Amazon, and Sir David Attenborough’s Life of Mammals. In 2003 he became part of the Planet Earth team under Alastair Fothergill, and produced three episodes for this hugely popular and multiple award-winning series.
Following Planet Earth he was appointed series producer of South Pacific. This six-part landmark series for BBC Two was the recipient of a number of awards, including an Emmy for best cinematography.
In 2009 he left the BBC to join Wild Horizons and, under Keith Scholey, was the series producer for North America – Discovery Channel’s first foray into fully funded blue-chip, landmark natural history programming.
In addition to his TV work, he has written and presented a number of radio programmes on subjects ranging from raccoons in Chicago to the Gobi desert in Mongolia. Huw has also contributed nearly a dozen pieces for Radio 4’s long-running news strand, From Our Own Correspondent.
I think you can feel emotionally attached to the prey in some of the sequences, but totally celebrate the endeavour of the predatorHuw Cordey
Emotionally we want the audience to engage with both sides – sometimes it will be the prey and sometimes it will be the predatorAlastair Fothergill