OnTheBox Interviews: Sir David Attenborough


Attenborough’s new show for Eden is as unusual as the animals it features.

Natural Curiosities delivers a unique new perspective on animals we are already familiar with. Each episode focuses on two animals which at first glance may appear to have very little in common, but, as Sir David compellingly reveals, are more alike than we may think.

In each of the easy ‘bite-size’ shows, running at just half an hour each (uncommon for nature programmes), we are welcomed into the strange world of two animals that share a ‘natural curiosity’. From the story of the first giraffe in Britain, via the narwhals perplexing tusk, to the worldwide disbelief expressed at the discovery of the platypus, this intimate series exposes the stories we never knew we never knew.

The duration of these shows is one of the more unusual things about it. As Sir David says “the interesting thing from my point of view, as a contributor, is that you suddenly realise that you’ve got a new format and a new attitude, a new genre of natural history filming.â€? The focus on individual animals, and indeed only a specific aspect of them, in such short, concise shows could be the beginning of a new and fascinating way of making nature films.

The onus is not merely on the biology of the animals in question. The producer, Stephen Dunleavy, reveals that this show is “crossing genres in a way that you have a mix of natural history, science and history, and the history of scienceâ€? and the ultimate result is a show that is fascinating, in that it reveals the back story of the animals in focus.

We learn the tragedy of the midwife toad, how naked mole rats could help anti-aging medicine and who was obsessed enough with zebras to breed one with a donkey! Sir David mentions that the animals “have these historical trailings and settings which give them another formâ€? and he’s right. The show is fascinating for the myriad of unusual stories that are uncovered.

Later are invited into a secret world of museum artefacts, and Sir David lets us know how lucky we are. The specimens we see are “for study, they’re scientific assemblages and they’re there for research, but television can find little aspects of them…and make these little ten minute cameos from themâ€? and with Sir David at the helm of this new series, our curiosity is never exhausted…naturally.

David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities, new & exclusive on Eden, Tuesdays at 8pm from 29th January (Sky 532/ Virgin 208/ Also available in HD)