Sir David Attenborough On Joe Biden Christmas Wrapping And Flamingos


Sir David Attenborough On Joe Biden Christmas Wrapping And Flamingos

Like many of us, Sir David Attenborough has had to adapt to new ways of working since the coronavirus pandemic took hold this spring.

For his latest series, the 93-year-old – who has been shielding – had to record some of his voiceovers from his home in south-west London.

“I’m very lucky, I don’t have a huge garden… I live in suburban Richmond-upon-Thames but I have a reasonable-sized garden and it has a pond. I’ve lived here about 60 years.”

But anyone tuning into BBC One’s Perfect Planet will feel as far away from London as it is possible to be.

The five-part series transports viewers to numerous parts of the world including the tidal islands of the Bahamas, Kamchatka in Russia and the Galapagos Islands.

Not particularly unusual for a Sir David documentary, you might think.

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But this time, the focus is on how the forces of nature – weather, ocean currents, solar energy and volcanoes – drive and support life on earth, and how wildlife adapts to whatever the environment throws at it.

The opener looks at the impact of volcanoes, featuring the inhospitable but vast breeding ground for the lesser flamingo at Lake Natron in Tanzania, in the shadow of the active volcano, Ol Doinyo Lengai (Mountain of God).

Filmed by drone for the first time, the episode homes in on the intimate scene of these leggy birds laying their eggs on tiny nests built on the highly caustic soda flats of the lake. Later, the chicks tentatively emerge and begin to find their feet.

“That flamingo sequence is one of the most incredible sequences I’ve seen on television. It’s been filmed so beautifully, the use of drones – it’s so skilful, the pictures are indelibly planted in the mind. It’s extraordinary,” says Sir David.

Unsurprisingly, filming in such a harsh environment wasn’t easy.

The soda flats are pretty inaccessible, says Matt Aeberhard, one of Perfect Planet’s camera operators.

“More people had landed on the moon until fairly recently than had landed on the flats. It’s a highly caustic environment. The pH there is about 12 – not far off household bleach. The only option to get there is a hovercraft, which was fun but the rubber skirt is shredded by the jagged soda crystals.”

The Maasai people who live nearby pitch in to help stitch the rubber back together.

And more local film crews were used to reduce the carbon footprint.

The series aims to demonstrate how the most dangerous of natural forces are also essential to life on our planet.

There are 1,500 active volcanoes worldwide and we wouldn’t be here without them, says series producer Huw Cordey.

“They are effectively the architects of the planet.”

Without them, we’d have no breathable atmosphere – no oceans and no land.

Sir David Attenborough On Joe Biden Christmas Wrapping And Flamingos


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