Our Favourite David Attenborough Moments from 1979 to Now

Our Favourite David Attenborough Moments from 1979 to Now

the nights draw in, we’re turning to grandfather of the
natural world
Sir David Attenborough
to transport us to any place other than
increasingly cold, increasingly dark London. In the name of
research, we’ve recently binge-watched every single Attenborough
episode since 1979, to bring you the best moments from grooming
gorillas to those racer snakes. With a voice like velvet –
and plenty of dramatic pauses – there’s really no one we’d rather
spend our Sunday nights with.

Life on Earth (1979)

Nearly 40 years on and Attenborough’s encounter with a group of
mountain gorillas in Rwanda is still one of the nation’s best-loved
television moments. It was obvious back then David Attenborough was
a total natural, appearing nonchalantly amused as the apes removed
his shoes and fawned over him while he tried to explain their
grooming habits. The landmark 13-part series, which Attenborough
wrote and presented, was shot in over 30 countries and pulled in an
audience of over 500 million viewers, marking the beginning of a
worldwide obsession with all things Attenborough.

The Living Planet (1984)

If you skip straight to the final scene of this series, we won’t
blame you. Confirming his status as a bona-fide explorer,
Attenborough experiments with gravity and finishes the episode
upside down. Need we say more?

Blue Planet (2001)

The camera team spent three years on standby in a bid to track
the migrating pattern of blue whales for this underwater
exploration. Thankfully, they were were handsomely rewarded for
their thumb-twiddling as the camera-shy dumbo octopus made a debut
appearance alongside a hairy angler fish, while hammerheads gave us
a real-life Shark Tale moment as they descended upon a Pacific
seamount. The only drawback to to this series is knowing more about
the beasts that lurk in the depths, making us slightly hesitant
about dive-bombing into the ocean on our next holiday.

The Life of Mammals (2002)

Where else would you find Sir David saying “boo” to an unamused
sloth? The Life of Mammals is arguably one of his finest works yet
is often very overlooked. Infrared technology was used for the
first time and 10-minute bonus features show the lengths to which
the crew go to capture footage – including a 100-metre zip line
through the jungle canopy. Leapfrogging from the Arctic to
, this series provides a reel of lighthearted
Attenborough moments, including lemurs using his shoulder as a
lookout and an impressive impersonation of a wolf howl.

Planet Earth (2006)

The first TV series to be screened in HD, you’ll tear through
this boxset quicker than the ever-elusive snow leopards it
features. Attenborough’s characteristically dramatic predator
introductions are in all the right places, punctuated by
coo-inducing scenes involving newly hatched sea turtles and baby
humpback whales. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security;
you’ll be brought back to earth with a bump as you watch sinister
cordyceps funghi devour their victims alive.

Frozen Planet (2011)

It has all the components of a compelling Sunday night drama;
polar bears sneak off for some alone time, villainous orcas toy
with their prey and emperor penguins lighten the mood with a
belly-flopping return to the
North Pole
. Topping it off are the Adelie penguins who have
turned to a life of crime. With his knowledgeable whispers,
Attenborough takes us across the slowly shrinking continent in a
seven-part series that drives home the very real effects of global

Africa (2013)

Journeying into one of Earth’s most unforgiving continents was
never going to be cosy viewing. In this emotionally charged
expedition we see giraffes fight to the death and a baby elephant
die of dehydration. Gathering the incredible animals that roam
across Africa
like the opening scene in The Lion King, Attenborough warns “the
stakes are high” – and so is our pulse as we watch a lizard try to
steal dinner off a lion’s face.

Great Barrier Reef (2015)

Returning to Australia after several decades, Attenborough
revisits what he describes as “the most magical place on Earth”. In
a joyfully nostalgic throwback, we see black-and-white clips from
1957 in which a fresh-faced Attenborough rows towards an untouched
Lizard Island – which today teems with research boats. The beauty
of the barrier reef has never been captured so perfectly, with an
“underwater firework display” – something about synchronised coral
reproduction at full moon – leaving us totally blindsided.

Planet Earth II (2016)

“Oh my god, did you see that?” squealed an entire nation (and,
indeed, the world) as we witnessed an iguana defy a murderous group
of racer snakes in the first episode of Planet Earth II. What was
the talk of the office the following day set a high standard which
didn’t slip throughout the series, which was filmed in 40 different
countries over 2089 days of shooting. Pulling on our heartstrings
as penguin chicks took their first steps, providing us with comic
thrills as bobcats face planted and drawing a bigger audience than
the X Factor finals, this is ideal sofa Sunday viewing.

Blue Planet II (2017)

*Spoiler alert* ahead for the first episode of the brand-new
series which aired just last weekend. It didn’t disappoint, getting
the nation in a flap as a young tern tried to escape the gaping
mouths of giant trevally fish. It was that jaw-clenching racer
snake moment again as the tern narrowly escaped with its life – and
feathers – in tact. Japan‘s
mysterious waters introduced us to trans fish, bottlenose dolphins
took the cameramen for a ride and we were left baffled when killer
whales who called off a dolphin hunt because they “knew each
other”. Turns out we’re rather looking forward to those long winter