David Attenborough: “Africa will be last of it’s kind!”

by Anna Howell

Sir David Attenborough, the genius behind the current phenomenal BBC series, Africa, has revealed that this is to be his last major project of its kind, deciding instead to focus on more shorter projects in future due to his age.

Sir David, the brother of actor and director Richard Attenborough, has been the face and voice of natural history programmes for the last 60 years. He is best known for writing and presenting the nine Life series along with a jam-packed portfolio of popular documentaries, such as Life On Earth, The Living Planet, The Blue Planet and Planet Earth.

His current series, Africa, is set to draw to an end this week, so fans of the show, and it’s creator had better make the most of it, as the 84-year old national treasure is planning on finally retiring – well almost!

Speaking to the Mirror newspaper, the film maker explained:

“In four years’ time, I shall be 90. I can’t believe it myself. But if I was the BBC, I wouldn’t hire me,

“I’ll perhaps just do shorter projects now, I think that would be sensible, don’t you? But I’m not giving up. As long as I can stand up and read words – and people want me to do things – I’ll carry on. Why would I want to sit dribbling and gazing into the future?”


On that note his next, shorter, project for the BBC is already underway, and has seen the veteran travel to China to put together the show about fossils and dinosaurs, as well as also working on a 3D programme on insects for Sky TV.

Sir David’s decision to take his foot off the pedal is partly down to his brother, Richard’s poor health, as he explained:

“He is coming up to 90. He’s just not very well. He’s old.”

The last episode of the series, Africa, is due to air tomorrow night and is set to stir a lot of emotion in its many, many viewers as the final outlook for both endangered wildlife and for the African people is not very positive:

“I don’t know what the population explosion is going to do,

“There are those who say it’s going to level off but the level at which they are talking is, in itself, fairly catastrophic.

“Nature deals with it by starvation – well, that’s a pretty inhuman way of going about things, surely we can do better than that?

“If there’s a famine, we quite rightly do everything we can to save everybody. And then in 10 years time there’s another famine. Why? Because there are too many people on that plot. Who is the hard-hearted person who is going to say: Let that child starve? Better we reduce the birthrate than persecute small, innocent children.”

One way Sir David believes might make a difference to the African population would be better education on birth control:

“It’s about educating people that they only need to have one or two children. We have all the techniques we want to do that.” For that reason, he’d like certain religions and populations to reconsider their position. “What about the Catholic Church?” he asks. “The first thing would be to recognise the problem. That would help but they don’t do much about it.”

“Africa must decide what to do for itself. They’ve had enough of Europeans telling them what to do.”


Looking back over the things he has witnessed and brought to life for us to see, Sir David mused:

“When you see a couple of rhinos on the horizon these days I think ‘Wow’ and then I look around to see who else is noticing them. They are used to being boss of their environment so they don’t hide, neither do elephants.

“When I started out, worrying about poachers wouldn’t have crossed my mind,” he sighs.

“If one could only find ways of prohibiting the sales of ivory and rhino horn it would be a huge step forward. Rhino horn has no proven medicinal quality, but you are dealing with different belief systems. People in China say, ‘well, my grandfather says it works and what does science know about these things?’”

The final episode of Africa can be seen tomorrow (06/02) night at 9pm on BBC1/BBC1 HD

David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities, new and exclusive on Eden, screens Tuesdays at 8pm on Sky 532/Virgin 208/also available in HD, watch the trailer for it in the clip below: