Last night, we had the second part of our Christmas present that we gave ourselves – a night with Sir David Attenborough (along with a fully packed Regent Theatre in Melbourne).
We were a bit unsure as to what format the evening would take, but it consisted of a guided conversation (more than an interview) led by Ray Martin. He and Sir David sat in large ottoman chairs on the stage and from time to time, excerpts of videos were projected onto the backdrop behind them. I haven’t always been a great fan of Ray, but last night he did a superb job of conversing with Sir David – plenty of opportunity for him to talk, gentle transitions between subjects and a natural flow of conversation even though this was the fourth show that they had done together.
Sir David was a great speaker. He is obviously an enthusiastic naturalist, but he is also quick of wit and adept at repartee. The evening went so quickly, and it was hard to believe that we sat through almost three hours of fascinating stories and anecdotes.
The first part of the show focused on Sir David’s life history. He described how he studied geology, began work with the BBC and moved on to producing wildlife shows. I didn’t know that he produced many of the BBC’s first colour TV shows (including Pot Black) and ten years of the Queen’s Christmas Addresses. Over time, he produced all of his famous “Life Of . . .” series. He had many funny stories to tell. One of his significant claims was being the first naturalist to ever film the Komodo Dragon in Indonesia.
In the second part, he took questions from the audience and focused on some of his special moments in the field – being cuddled by gorillas in Rwanda, seeing chimpanzees hunting monkeys and seeing killer whales attacking sea lions on a beach. The photography of each of his experiences was simply stunning. Finally, he gave a little plug for his up-coming series on ‘The Life of Plants’ including his new spectacular iPad App.
Sir David Attenborough is truly a great man. At the ripe old age of 86 years, he shows no sign whatsoever of slowing down.