Destinations

An interview with David Attenborough

When you get the chance to interview someone as fascinating and awe-inspiring as David Attenborough, you jump at it. And that's exactly what Travel Weekly did. Enjoy a few moments delving into the very well-lived world of Attenborough.

What do you regard as your greatest accomplishment in life? 

Wow, straight in with a tough one. I guess my greatest accomplishment is that I have had the role of a broadcaster. And by that I mean if I have achieved anything at all, it would be that I have raised the awareness of the natural world to people who do not usually come into contact with it. But of all the programs I’ve made, the series Life on Earth has to be the pinnacle for me.  

What is your greatest fear? 

I would have to say being ill, really ill, for a lengthy time before I die. I do not want to go through a protracted, painful, slow death. Not that death is something I think about, although I’m certainly aware of my advancing age. I can’t climb trees anymore because of my tricky knee, and I guess I can’t really move as fast anymore. But why slow down?  

Which one thing can you not live without? 

I like to read. Reading is a nice way of keeping the brain active and alert with its own thought processes. Filming is made to look serene, quiet and peaceful, and that’s because we don’t want to disturb the animals, but actually it can be a long, arduous and often stressful process. So I do quite like to remove myself from all that by reading a book. 

In all your travels, what is the most peculiar animal you have ever encountered? 

The three-toed sloth springs to mind – a funny old fellow who really does very little in his life but mope about, relax and sleep. Not a bad way to be, I suppose. 

Which lesser-known country would you recommend above all others for nature enthusiasts to visit? 

I would recommend the Galapagos Islands to anybody if they have the means to go there. Flying over the volcanoes in a helicopter, though logistically difficult, was such a thrilling thing to be able to do. 

What’s the best holiday or trip you have ever taken (and why)? 

My favourite place to go on holiday has always been the west of Wales. That stems back to the time when I was in the Royal Navy in the 1940s. I was stationed in Pembrokeshire, so when I had annual leave we used to take the kids around the coast, which was always very enjoyable. 

When you are not working, what is your favourite pastime?  

These days when I am not working I prefer to stay at home in Richmond, in London. I have lived there for six years and it’s a lovely spot. I do enjoy a bit of telly, and I know people will think that strange, but my life has been on the television so it perhaps isn’t so peculiar. I like the news, comedy shows and documentaries.  

Which natural spots have captivated you throughout your life? 

The Great Barrier Reef is surely the world’s most incredible environment. Each and every time I return it amazes me all over again. The Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest – two incredible places I never want to contemplate not visiting again. 

It’s been said that you may be the most widely travelled individual who has ever lived. How many countries would you say you’ve visited? 

I couldn’t hazard a guess; it’s not something I keep count of. It would be a fair few, I would imagine. It might be easier to list the countries I haven’t visited. 

Given you are frequently suggested when we ask this question of our readers, it would be interesting to know which four famous individuals you would invite to a dinner party? 

That’s kind of you. I guess, for me, they would be four pioneers of science and nature, and perhaps photography. They’d be people who have made a real impact on the everyday lives of all of us – Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, those types – and no footballers. 

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