Monday, July 22, 2013

Sir David Attenborough: A Life on Earth

On Friday night we had the great privilege of seeing Sir David Attenborough speak at the Royal Theatre. David Attenborough is arguably the world’s best known natural history filmmaker, a much loved naturalist and broadcaster whose career has spanned six decades. We've long been captivated by his in-depth explorations of the natural world and have watched his many series time and time again.

When we heard he was doing an Australian tour, we jumped on the chance to buy tickets. Sadly, that tour was cancelled as he had to have a pacemaker inserted in London. The tour was then rescheduled and we were notified of the chance to buy priority pre-release tickets. At 9am on the morning sales opened, we were online and got seats in the center of the fifth row. 

Waiting for the show to begin!
Brian and I were giddy with anticipation and not just because we were out of the house on a Friday night sans children! When the curtains finally opened we saw the man of the hour standing humbly in centre stage with his iconic blue shirt, khaki trousers and characteristically disheveled hair.

Hosted by Australian television presenter, Ray Martin, we were treated to two hours of insights into his  extraordinary life, fascinating stories from the field and the evolution of filming techniques over his sixty year career.

With his oh so recognizable and pleasing voice, one couldn't help but feel that we were in the presence of someone truly special. Describing the beautiful and mysterious treasures of this planet, he was charming, honest, passionate, funny and of course, animated.

We were treated to exquisite stories that kept us in stitches:
The rat catcher.
The flying squirrel loose in the television studio with a priest.
Bush Babies peeing on their hands and rubbing them all over his house.
Producing the Queen’s Christmas message while a horse appears to lip-sync in the background.

Throughout the show, poignant clips of his career illustrated stories that held us captivated and left us deeply moved:

Greeting the seemingly fierce New Guinean tribesman charging at him in full war dress with a polite British handshake which diffused the situation.
Tracking chimpanzees through the jungle to capture the first footage of organized hunting.
Being affectionately stroked by gorillas in Rwanda.

A sneak peak of new 3D filming techniques.
The evening ended with a beautiful spoken version of the song, What a Wonderful World with a montage of stunning clips. With gratitude for being taken on yet another memorable journey with an amazing man, the audience rose to their feet in awe and appreciation.

One of many stunning backdrops.
His ability to bring us up close and personal with some of the world’s most wonderful creatures has certainly had an impact on my love for the environment. I'm sure I'm not the only one working in the field who turns to an Attenborough documentary for optimism and inspiration.

Seeing David Attenborough speak has confirmed my suspicion that he is surely one of the most interesting and influential people alive. I for one will be eternally grateful to him for bringing the infinite beauty of the natural world into people's home for decades and for sparking an appreciation for what otherwise might go unnoticed or remain unseen. 

At 87, he is still going strong and jokes that his new pacemaker has one drawback - a battery life of only 25 years. I can't wait to see what's next.

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