David Attenborough Poster

Quotes (32)

  • As far as I'm concerned, if there is a supreme being then He chose organic evolution as a way of bringing into existence the natural world . . . which doesn't seem to me to be necessarily blasphemous at all.
  • [speaking in 2007] Some scientists suggest that up to a quarter of animal species could be extinct by 2050. But it's not too late - you can be involved in saving planet Earth. If you are a child, this is your future. If you're a parent, it's your legacy. The time to act is now.
  • Steve Irwin did wonderful conservation work but I was uncomfortable about some of his stunts. Even if animals aren't aware that you are not treating them with respect, the viewers are.
  • I had a huge advantage when I started 50 years ago - my job was secure. I didn't have to promote myself. These days there's far more pressure to make a mark, so the temptation is to make adventure television or personality shows. I hope the more didactic approach won't be lost.
  • It is vital that there is a narrator figure whom people believe. That's why I never do commercials. If I started saying that margarine was the same as motherhood, people would think I was a liar.
  • There are moments when I wonder - moments when its (the BBC's) two senior networks, first set up as a partnership, schedule simultaneously programmes of identical character, thereby contradicting the very reason that the BBC was given a second network.
  • Unless there are regulations to stop it, public service broadcasting programmes will inevitably be pushed out of peak hours and into out-of-the-way corners of the schedule when fewer people will want to watch them. So the odds are stacked against them increasing their audience. They become the station's pariah, retained under sufferance, tucked away, unloved, where they do least harm to the network's income.
  • Public service broadcasting, watched by a healthy number of viewers, with programmes financed in proportion to their intrinsic needs and not the size of the audience, can only effectively operate as a network. A network whose aim is to cater for the broadest possible range of interests, popular as well as less popular, a network that measures success not only by its audience size but by the range of its schedule.
  • [in 2008] There are times when BBC1 and BBC2, intoxicated by the sudden popularity of a programme genre, have allowed that genre to proliferate and run rampant through the schedules, with the result that other kinds of programmes are not placed - simply because of lack of space. Do we really require so many gardening programmes, makeover programmes, or celebrity chefs? Is it not a scandal, in this day and age, that that there seems to be no place for continuing series of programmes about science or serious music or thoughtful in-depth interviews with people other than politicians?
  • Public service broadcasting is one of the things that distinguishes this country and makes me want to live here. I have spent all my life in it. I would be very distressed if public service broadcasting was weakened. I have been at the BBC since 1952 and know the BBC is constantly being battered. It is today.
  • If you could demonstrate that the BBC was grossly extravagant there might be a case for saying OK take it away. But in fact the BBC per minute in almost every category is as cheap as you can find anywhere in the world and produces the best quality. If you take the money away, which part of the BBC will you remove? The BBC has gone through swingeing staff cuts. It has been cut to the bone, if you divert licence fee money elsewhere, you cut quality and services. There is always that threat from politicians who will say your licence fee is up for grabs. We will take it. There is a lot of people who want to see the BBC weakened. They talk of this terrible tax of the licence fee. Yet it is the best bargain that is going. Four radio channels and god knows how many TV channels. It is piffling.
  • [on the BBC's in-house departments] The statutory requirement that a certain percentage of programmes must come from independent producers has reduced in-house production and the Units necessarily shrank proportionately in size. As they dwindled, so the critical mass of their production expertise has diminished. The continuity of their archives has been broken, they have lost the close touch they once had worldwide with their subjects and they are no longer regarded internationally as the centres of innovation and expertise that they once were.
  • Whatever you do, it's difficult if you are on the edge of taste - you'll always offend someone. You'll also offend some people if you retreat to being so careful with everything that you say that you become Mrs Goody-two-shoes. People in their twenties today talk like Jonathan Ross and the question is how much do they do that in front of other sections of society. Jonathan Ross has a very difficult problem.
  • Jonathan Ross speaks to a certain element who think he's very funny, and I guess he is. He's on the edge of a very dangerous line and it's not an easy job. He has to keep close to the boundary, but not step over it. What you need, in order to do that, is to have a producer in whom you have confidence, who will pull you back if it's pre-recorded and then cut it out.
  • There have always been politicians or business people who have wanted to cut the BBC back or stop it saying the sort of things it says. There's always been trouble about the licence and if you dropped your guard you could bet our bottom dollar there'd be plenty of people who'd want to take it away. The licence fee is the basis on which the BBC is based and if you destroy it, broadcasting becomes a wasteland.
  • It never really occurred to me to believe in God - and I had nothing to rebel against, my parents told me nothing whatsoever. But I do remember looking at my headmaster delivering a sermon, a classicist, extremely clever... and thinking, he can't really believe all that, can he? How incredible!
  • [on the teaching of creationism in British schools] It's like saying that two and two equals four but, if you wish it, it could also be five. This is one of the errors. Evolution is not a theory. It is a fact, every bit as much as the historical fact that William the Conqueror landed in 1066. Indeed, more so, because all we have to tell us about William are a few bits of paper here or there - not very much at all. For evolution we have much more evidence: palaeontology, embryology, biology, geology. Darwin revolutionised the way we see the world fundamentally, but his basic proposition is still not taken on board by a lot of people.
  • [responding to religious viewers who criticise him for not crediting God in his nature programmes] They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in East Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.
  • There is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than any other animal I know.
  • [on television in 2009] I think it's in great trouble. The whole system on which it was built - a limited number of networks, with adequate funding - is under threat. That funding is no longer there. As stations proliferate, so audiences are reduced. The struggle for audiences becomes ever greater, while money diminishes. I think that's a fair recipe for trouble.
  • [on climate change] We don't seem to be acting very quickly. I'm sure things are going to get worse before they get better, if they get better. They won't get better in my lifetime. I don't think they'll get better for 50 to 100 years. I hope they won't get too much worse, but I fear they certainly will.
  • People believe what they wish to believe. There are some people who think the written word is more likely to be an avenue to the truth than the material world that we can examine. I might not share that belief. People tell me that they believe God created the world in seven days, and I say: 'On what evidence?' They say: 'Well, because it says so in the Book of Genesis.' There's nothing I can do to disprove that because that's what they believe is the incontrovertible truth.
  • I've always found fossils very interesting. I also had newts and grass snakes and frogs which I kept in various aquaria when I was a boy. I spent a lot of time in the garden exploring.
  • My shoes are very unfashionable shoes. I'm the last in a particular style that was established 30 years ago. People make different kinds of programmes now. I don't think anyone's trying to fill my shoes.
  • I think 3D TV is going to be event TV. It can be an international football match or it can also be an important programme. But I don't think 3D is going to be much good on trivia. It's for programmes that really mean something. It does require your attention.
  • When I started in 1952, people had television sets and thought it was a miracle. You sat in front of it and waited for it to start and watched all the way through to the end and it was an event. But within a decade, you ate and talked and knitted while it was on. Then colour came about and once again it was an event, people would come round and said, 'Wow, look at the colour'. Then we got accustomed to colour and television became like wallpaper. I don't think 3D can be used as wallpaper, particularly because you need the glasses and when you put them on it's very isolating. You become very unaware of the person next to you.
  • [on serving as director of programmes across BBC TV between 1969 to 1973] It was very nice for me running a network for a few years, in the sense that it was very flattering for one's ego. But it's not much fun.
  • I've always enjoyed Doctor Who (1963) from a technical point of view. I sat in on a lot of the early discussions, during which we cooked up the programme under the aegis of Sydney Newman, who was the BBC head of drama. I remember he specified he didn't want monsters in it but the first producer, Verity Lambert, went against that and introduced the Daleks. Sydney was livid with her to start with but Verity, of course, was right.
  • I am a BBC man.
  • The BBC is hard-pressed for money and it has to make strategic decisions as to what it's going to invest in.
  • [at the UN Climate Change Conference, 2018] The collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.
  • [on the global-warming challenge] I would much prefer not to be a placard-carrying conservationist. My life is the natural world. But I can't not carry a placard if I see what's happening.