David Attenborough's Life Stories

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0120 LASTCollecting2009101620091018
20100118 (BBC7)
20100119 (BBC7)
20151226 (BBC7)
20151227 (BBC7)

The naturalist comments on the decline in collecting by children.

The naturalist comments on the decline in collecting by children, which can lead to an early fascination with the natural world.

Series of talks by Sir David Attenborough on the natural histories of creatures and plants from around the world.

Why do we collect things? Is it a male response to ancient hunting instincts to provide food for the family? Today, collecting by children is in decline, and with it the development of an early fascination with the natural world around them.

Collecting by children is in decline, and with it their fascination with the natural world

0201Canopy2011021820110220
0202Kiwi2011022520110801

2/20. David Attenborough tells us New Zealand had several species of flightless bird living across the islands, all of which are now extinct, bar one. The Kiwi has become one of those species iconic of the country, like the Koala to Australia, the Giraffe to Africa and the Alpaca to South America. Historically, New Zealand didn't have ground predators such as wild cats and stoats - which allowed birds to exploit living on the ground. Being flightless in New Zealand was a good way to be a bird. David Attenborough filmed Kiwis and in this Life Story he muses on the niche the Kiwi occupies on the ground. He argues the Kiwi behaves more like a mammal than a bird, but what mammal do you think, in Attenborough's view, the Kiwi most resembles?

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

David Attenborough muses over the peculiar Kiwi, a bird more mammal-like in its habits.

0209Identities2011041520110417
20160606 (BBC7)
20160607 (BBC7)

David Attenborough tells of the importance of identifying individual animals in a crowd.

9/20.

You get a very different insight into the natural world when you have the opportunity to study the behaviour of individual animals.

David Attenborough recalls with sumptuous delight spotting a blackbird in his garden with a white feather - "whitey" - giving him a window into the life of blackbirds and what's more, that individual.

And, he says, he saw what blackbirds get up to! In this story Attenborough remembers filming spiders and filming chimpanzees, both of which benefited from someone knowing about the individuals - and whether you're a spider or a chimpanzee, you have a personality all of your own.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

David reflects on seeing 'whitey' - a blackbird with a white feather - in his garden.

You get a very different insight into the natural world when you have the opportunity to study the behaviour of individual animals. David Attenborough recalls with sumptuous delight spotting a blackbird in his garden with a white feather - "whitey" - giving him a window into the life of blackbirds and what's more, that individual. And, he says, he saw what blackbirds get up to! In this story Attenborough remembers filming spiders and filming chimpanzees, both of which benefited from someone knowing about the individuals - and whether you're a spider or a chimpanzee, you have a personality all of your own.

0210Rats2011042220110424
20160607 (BBC7)
20160608 (BBC7)

10/20.

It might be surprising to hear, but David Attenborough has made it known over the years that rats are not his favourite animal.

In this piece, dedicated to his nemesis, Attenborough with great wit and skill tells us of the living nightmare he endured whilst on location in a place infested with them.

If that wasn't enough, whilst making Life of Mammals, he devoted a whole programme to them - and to balance his own personal view went to an Indian temple where the rat is revered and even encouraged to swarm in vast numbers.

But in a clever twist of the story, as is the hallmark of David Attenborough, in no uncertain way he tells us why they should be respected.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

David Attenborough hates rats, but in a personal way explains why they should be respected

It might be surprising to hear, but David Attenborough has made it known over the years that rats are not his favourite animal. In this piece, dedicated to his nemesis, Attenborough with great wit and skill tells us of the living nightmare he endured whilst on location in a place infested with them. If that wasn't enough, whilst making Life of Mammals, he devoted a whole programme to them - and to balance his own personal view went to an Indian temple where the rat is revered and even encouraged to swarm in vast numbers. But in a clever twist of the story, as is the hallmark of David Attenborough, in no uncertain way he tells us why they should be respected.

0211Monsters2011042920110501
20160608 (BBC7)
20160609 (BBC7)

Fire breathing dragons are clearly something from legend, but what about a monster that lives in an ancient deep lake? In this edition of David Attenborough's Life Stories, Sir David reflects on a time when pre-eminent conservationist and naturalist Peter Scott was immersed in acquiring evidence of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.

No such giant creature has ever been found or concrete evidence it ever existed, but this is an intriguing tale of discovery.

David Attenborough moves his story on to beyond the highlands of Scotland and into the Himalayas - and it's here that Sir David reveals something very surprising.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

David Attenborough remembers puzzling over the Loch Ness Monster with Sir Peter Scott.

Fire breathing dragons are clearly something from legend, but what about a monster that lives in an ancient deep lake? In this edition of David Attenborough's Life Stories, Sir David reflects on a time when pre-eminent conservationist and naturalist Peter Scott was immersed in acquiring evidence of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. No such giant creature has ever been found or concrete evidence it ever existed, but this is an intriguing tale of discovery. David Attenborough moves his story on to beyond the highlands of Scotland and into the Himalayas - and it's here that Sir David reveals something very surprising.

021220110508

David Attenborough celebrates butterflies' migration with a twist of evolutionary thinking

0212Butterflies2011050620110508
20160609 (BBC7)
20160610 (BBC7)

12/20.

When massing for their winter torpor in Mexico, the pine trees laden with Monarch Butterflies are one of the most mystical and magical places to be.

David Attenborough is one of many naturalists, writers and broadcasters to marvel at this species migration feat and the spectacle of their over wintering - one of the natural wonders of the world.

In this Life Story David Attenborough guides us through the butterfly's migration to Canada from Mexico - and back again - gently unpacking their natural history and wonder.

And he immerses us in other butterfly congregations during filming trips over the years - but in a clever twist brings us back to his garden with an intriguing thought about the evolution of butterfly behaviour.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

David Attenborough celebrates butterflies' migration with a twist of evolutionary thinking

When massing for their winter torpor in Mexico, the pine trees laden with Monarch Butterflies are one of the most mystical and magical places to be. David Attenborough is one of many naturalists, writers and broadcasters to marvel at this species migration feat and the spectacle of their over wintering - one of the natural wonders of the world. In this Life Story David Attenborough guides us through the butterfly's migration to Canada from Mexico - and back again - gently unpacking their natural history and wonder. And he immerses us in other butterfly congregations during filming trips over the years - but in a clever twist brings us back to his garden with an intriguing thought about the evolution of butterfly behaviour.

0213Chimps2011051320110515
20160610 (BBC7)
20160611 (BBC7)

13/20.

They say, David Attenborough reports, that we share more of our genes with chimpanzees than any other species alive today.

And this proximity of Homo Sapiens to the chimpanzee motivated Sir David even more to film behaviour never before seen.

It had been known for some time that chimps hunt monkeys for meat, but it would be a first to film it for television audiences.

To film such a hunt required days of waiting and tracking a troop through the Equatorial African forest - and when the hunt came and was over it changed Attenborough's view of chimps and their importance to us, forever.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

David Attenborough recalls a memorable filming trip, following chimpanzees hunting monkeys

They say, David Attenborough reports, that we share more of our genes with chimpanzees than any other species alive today. And this proximity of Homo Sapiens to the chimpanzee motivated Sir David even more to film behaviour never before seen. It had been known for some time that chimps hunt monkeys for meat, but it would be a first to film it for television audiences. To film such a hunt required days of waiting and tracking a troop through the Equatorial African forest - and when the hunt came and was over it changed Attenborough's view of chimps and their importance to us, forever.

0214Cuckoo2011052020110522
20160613 (BBC7)
20160614 (BBC7)

14/20.

The Cuckoo is one of the iconic brood parasites of the world - the bird that cons another species into taking its egg as its own and rears the chick to fledging.

In the single frame of the Cuckoo you have a long distance migrant, travelling from Africa to breeding grounds in the temperate north, and back again.

The Cuckoo does not raise its own chick and across a range of Cuckoo individuals, they parasitise several species of bird - all much smaller than they are.

David Attenborough explores the world of the Cuckoo and not only marvels at their natural history but tells the story of how a wildlife cameraman resolved a scientific mystery - and how the Cuckoo itself harbours yet more secrets to science and natural history.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

David Attenborough tells us how cuckoos get their eggs into the nests of other species.

14/20. The Cuckoo is one of the iconic brood parasites of the world - the bird that cons another species into taking its egg as its own and rears the chick to fledging. In the single frame of the Cuckoo you have a long distance migrant, travelling from Africa to breeding grounds in the temperate north, and back again. The Cuckoo does not raise its own chick and across a range of Cuckoo individuals, they parasitise several species of bird - all much smaller than they are. David Attenborough explores the world of the Cuckoo and not only marvels at their natural history but tells the story of how a wildlife cameraman resolved a scientific mystery - and how the Cuckoo itself harbours yet more secrets to science and natural history.

0215Quetzalcoatlus2011052720110529
20160614 (BBC7)
20160615 (BBC7)

15/20.

As David Attenborough explains, ".the biggest animal to fly was not a bird, but a reptile." - it was a Quetzalcoatlus, a pterosaur with at least a forty foot wingspan.

David Attenborough, a huge fan of palaeontology, is skilled in bringing the past natural histories to life through stories about the discovery of key fossils.

What a creature this "terrible lizard" must have been - big enough to scavenge the bodies of dead Tyrannosaurus and yet able to fly, probably in large numbers.

And with a twist so typical of Sir David's writing, he brings this pterosaur to life at the very end.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

David Attenborough introduces the Quetzalcoatlus: the largest flying animal ever to exist.

15/20. As David Attenborough explains, ".the biggest animal to fly was not a bird, but a reptile." - it was a Quetzalcoatlus, a pterosaur with at least a forty foot wingspan. David Attenborough, a huge fan of palaeontology, is skilled in bringing the past natural histories to life through stories about the discovery of key fossils. What a creature this "terrible lizard" must have been - big enough to scavenge the bodies of dead Tyrannosaurus and yet able to fly, probably in large numbers. And with a twist so typical of Sir David's writing, he brings this pterosaur to life at the very end.

0216Chameleon2011060320110605
20160815 (BBC7)

16/20.

Many of the world's chameleons live on the huge continental island of Madagascar off the Eastern coast of Africa.

Some are tiny, as small as a finger nail - others in comparison are giants.

Sir David Attenborough gives us a personal insight into the natural history of chameleons through one very special individual - a chameleon he had as a pet, called Rommel.

In this life story you will feel as if you've met Rommel personally and with the delightful embrace with which Sir David writes, you smile all the way through.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

In this Life Story of Sir David Attenborough you are introduced to Rommel the Chameleon.

16/20. Many of the world's chameleons live on the huge continental island of Madagascar off the Eastern coast of Africa. Some are tiny, as small as a finger nail - others in comparison are giants. Sir David Attenborough gives us a personal insight into the natural history of chameleons through one very special individual - a chameleon he had as a pet, called Rommel. In this life story you will feel as if you've met Rommel personally and with the delightful embrace with which Sir David writes, you smile all the way through.

0217Nectar2011061020110612

David Attenborough tells of nature's first bribe, that evolved a hundred million years ago

17/20.

The beautiful thick, sweet and luscious tasting delicacy of honey is one of the world's natural goodies.

Indigenous peoples from all over the world will go to great lengths to get the honey from wild bees - and for most of us less connected to the natural world, we love this product of bees bought from the shop.

Honey is nectar and David Attenborough poignantly points out this "was the first bribe in nature..." - it evolved one hundred million years ago with the flowering plants and drove the evolutionary relationship between animals and plants.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

0218Waterton2011061720110619
20160925 (BBC7)

This is the story of an eccentric 19th-century nobleman and his passion for wildlife.

18/20.

Squire Waterton of Walton Hall was an eccentric Englishman and gentleman who made many visits to South America and wrote about his travels.

His travel books are "amongst the oddest I know" David Attenborough tells us, written in an odd, almost biblical style.

But nevertheless, these books are accounts of natural history two hundred years ago.

Attenborough argues that Waterton shouldn't be just remembered for his writing.

He should be credited with establishing the first nature reserve in this country.

Appalled by the ravages of the industrial revolution's impact on the landscape, he built a wall around his estate to protect the wildlife - and free of charge allowed people to visit, which they did in their masses.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

David Attenborough explores the life of Squire Waterton, a 19th-century taxidermist.

18/20. Squire Waterton of Walton Hall was an eccentric Englishman and gentleman who made many visits to South America and wrote about his travels. His travel books are "amongst the oddest I know" David Attenborough tells us, written in an odd, almost biblical style. But nevertheless, these books are accounts of natural history two hundred years ago. Attenborough argues that Waterton shouldn't be just remembered for his writing. He should be credited with establishing the first nature reserve in this country. Appalled by the ravages of the industrial revolution's impact on the landscape, he built a wall around his estate to protect the wildlife - and free of charge allowed people to visit, which they did in their masses.

0219Fireflies2011062420110626
20160918 (BBC7)

19/20.

The chemistry that allows the combustion of natural chemicals to generate light without heat is wonderfully harnessed by the firefly.

Fireflies are insects with several species in the group; each with its own species specific code and signalling regime.

In this life story David Attenborough tells of his personal experience filming the antics of fireflies and the insight this gave him into this secret world of messaging.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Julian Hector.

Fireflies generate light by themselves and they do this with style.

generate light by themselves and they do this with style.

19/20. The chemistry that allows the combustion of natural chemicals to generate light without heat is wonderfully harnessed by the firefly. Fireflies are insects with several species in the group; each with its own species specific code and signalling regime. In this life story David Attenborough tells of his personal experience filming the antics of fireflies and the insight this gave him into this secret world of messaging.

0220 LASTElsa2011070120110703
20160904 (BBC7)

David Attenborough gives his perspective on the story of the famous lioness, Elsa.

20/20.

David Attenborough tells us how, whilst en route to Madagascar, his bosses in the BBC asked him to break his journey in Kenya to visit the Adamsons.

Joy and George Adamson were famous for hand rearing a Lioness whom they called Elsa.

Elsa was the central character in the book written by the couple "Born Free".

In this Life Story Sir David cleverly takes us from the romanticism of Born Free and being close to habituated lions, to the harsh reality of befriending a big cat.

Written and presented by David Attenborough

Produced by Polly Procter.

20/20. David Attenborough tells us how, whilst en route to Madagascar, his bosses in the BBC asked him to break his journey in Kenya to visit the Adamsons. Joy and George Adamson were famous for hand rearing a Lioness whom they called Elsa. Elsa was the central character in the book written by the couple "Born Free". In this Life Story Sir David cleverly takes us from the romanticism of Born Free and being close to habituated lions, to the harsh reality of befriending a big cat.