"Our planet, the Earth, is, as far as we know, unique in the Universe - it contains life."And here we see the common troper in its natural habitat, describing a trope.Sir David Frederick Attenborough (born May 8, 1926) is a British broadcaster and naturalist, most famous as a nature documentary producer and narrator, long fondly stereotyped and much mimicked for his hushed yet enthusiastic delivery and ability to find any sort of plant or animal interesting.He is one of the most enduring presences on UK television in a career spanning 60+ years, as well as a former controllernote of the channel BBC2. To many people on both sides of the Atlantic he has long been THE face and voice of natural history, having created what can safely be called the definitive—and usually technically groundbreaking—series of television nature documentaries, spanning all parts of the globe and every type of living creature (yes, including humans). He has been called the most-traveled man on Earth.Perhaps most widely-known is the epic "Life" series, beginning with 1974's Life on Earth and continued through 2010 with The Living Planet, The Trials of Life, Life in the Freezer (an indepth survey of Antarctica), The Private Life of Plants, The Life of Birds and ...of Mammals, Life in the Undergrowth (invertebrates, mainly insects/arachnids), Life In Cold Blood (reptiles), and Charles Darwin - The Tree Of Life. Other series include The Frozen Planet (a more comprehensive look at life in both polar regions) and Africa. He has also narrated many other landmark achievements in the genre, including The Blue Planet (oceans and their surrounding ecosystems), Planet Earth, and Life.Among non-nature-related triumphs, he has been credited with popularizing colour TV in the UK, first by commissioning the snooker program Pot Black for BBC2 (as you need a coloured TV set to see the different coloured snooker balls), and later by televising Wimbledon in colour. He also commissioned a number of landmark documentary series in other genres, including Sir Kenneth Clark's Civilisation, Alistair Cooke's America and Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man. Ironically, it was not until some years later that he was persuaded to apply the format to natural history with Life on Earth.He also made one of the first major documentaries on pterosaurs… fittingly enough, being the younger brother of the late actor and director Lord Richard Attenborough (John Hammond in Jurassic Park).Was the subject of Attenborough: A Life on Camera, a three-part BBC2 tribute, on the 60th anniversary of his broadcasting career in 2012. Recently voted the "most trusted public figure" in UK media. He ended at #63 in One Hundred Greatest Britons.
— David Attenborough, The Living Planet
Tropes related to David Attenborough:
- Affectionate Parody: Has been the subject of a good deal of them. His presentation style is instantly recognisable, lending itself to caricature, but his earnest desire to educate and inform makes it extremely difficult to parody him without affection.
- Apocalyptic Log: The "On Location" bonus in the reptiles and amphibians episode of Life, which depicts the crew filming a slowly dying water buffalo being stalked by a hungry Komodo dragon, has shades of this.
- Call Back: One-shot specials Attenborough in Paradise and Attenborough and the Giant Egg are both themed around revisiting memorable events from much earlier in his career.
- Chased by Angry Natives: Their fearsome display turned out to be their traditional greeting.
- Cool Old Guy: A charismatic, well-mannered and knowledgeable British gentleman with a soothing voice, born in 1926 and still active.
- Cozy Voice for Catastrophes: He's right up there with Stephen Fry and Morgan Freeman in terms of having an incredibly soft and calming voice.
- The Determinator: Born in 1926, and still very much on the go. Even more so since the late nineties when his wife died; he likes to keep himself busy.
- Documentary: One of the major players in raising the genre into a high-profile art form over the 20th century.
- Filler: In an older documentary series for the London Zoo he was supposed to be searching for an African bird for a week but had actually found it on the second day.
- Friend to All Living Things: Particularly birds, except maybe the capercaillie
- Green Aesop: He often delivers one of these at the end of each series, and is in fact noted for his endorsement of conservation efforts. He has taken part in at least two documentaries specifically about global warming (State of the Planet and Are We Changing Planet Earth?).
- He's a Woman in America: Planet Earth and Life are narrated by Sigourney Weaver and Oprah Winfrey, respectively, to the fury of fans (don't worry, the non-Discovery Channel DVDs keep Attenborough's narration). Frozen Planet replaced him with Alec Baldwin when Discovery broadcast it.
- Imperturbable Englishman: Very deadpan when it comes to accidents on set. Also once confronted a tribe of cannibals charging at the crew with a handshake and a "how do you do?"
- Is This Thing Still On?: In A Life on Camera, he wryly describes how he once forgot his mike was live while climbing a particularly tall tree during one shoot, resulting in the crew hearing his panicked swearing and singing as he made his way up.
- Limited Wardrobe: Nearly always wears the same light blue shirt and khaki chino trousers—supplemented as needed with the same olive military-style parka and black gloves—regardless of location, unless thermal or other specialized gear is required (as in the Antarctic, where he was required to wear a different colour-coded outfit in each territory he visited). Wordof God is that this is intended to avoid the viewer focussing on him and/or his possible motives for changing, instead of whatever he's showing on screen. It also of course greatly simplifies continuity when editing the footage later.
- Majored in Western Hypocrisy: Met a few who did on his travels.
- Mickey Mousing: Almost all of the soundtrack to Life on Earth punctuates the actions of animals on screen.
- Offscreen Teleportation: As noted, he deliberately wears identical sets of clothes on-camera while filming a series over anything up to three years, making it look uncannily like he's just teleported straight from, say, Brazil to India between shots. Naturally, this is irresistible to satirists.
- Combines with Time Travel in Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life due to using footage from an earlier Darwin documentary that was made in the sixties or seventies.
- Redshirt Reporter: Qualifies as this once or twice. For instance, during Life in the Freezer, he gets a little too close to a bull elephant seal, and the seal evidently doesn't like his company. When Attenborough explains that the seals must fight to defend their patches of beach, the seal turns around and lunges at him.
- Refusal of the Call: Refused to climb up the BBC promotion chain, because he loved making documentaries so much.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: A big part of his charm as a narrator is his ability to interpret animal behaviour in relateably human terms without actually anthropomorphizing them. Face-to-face encounters are more of a mixed bag; although animals generally seem amazingly comfortable with his presence nearby, they also have no compunction about charging or even attacking if he makes a wrong move.
- Tempting Fate: Making a comment about the ability of bats to navigate without hitting objects in the dark, right before a bat flew into his face.
- This may be due to the fact that bats mostly use echolocation for hunting very small prey. A comparatively enormous documentary film-maker suddenly standing right in the middle of their commuting corridors would be just as surprising to the bat as to him.
- Understatement: In the most classically British sense. "But then again, living on an active volcano is not without its risks..." (from The Blue Planet).
- Why Did It Have To Be Rats?: Not a fan of them, particularly when one jumped out from a toilet he was using.