May is a very special month. It brings with it one of the best noises on the planet: Swifts return to the UK after wintering in Africa once again treating us to their shrill whistles at dusk, don’t you just love it? I love May for this reason, but this year it took on a very different significance entirely. Sir David Attenborough turned 90!
His actual birthday was on the 8th but the TV channel ‘Eden’ have declared it a month of celebration airing his back catalogue every.single.day. And rightly so! I’m sure many people have been tuning in to watch his documentaries, or streaming them online, or bringing them down from their prized spot on the DVD shelf.
Personally I’ve enjoyed watching a rerun of ‘Conquest of the Skies’. Although this may not be deemed as a classic of his, being broadcast last year on Sky One rather than his traditional home on the BBC, it’s probably one of my favourites because it shows that he’s still pushing the limits of natural history storytelling by embracing new technology such as CG dinosaurs (always a winner) and 3D imaging.
With it being such a special birthday many people where going out of their way to celebrate; I was no different and I managed to contribute to celebrations in two different ways. Firstly, everyone where I work was invited to write a personal birthday message in a book that would be sent to the man himself. It was an opportunity for me to write whatever I wanted in the hope that he would one day read it. The pressure was too great! What do you write to one of your idols? To a person who has had a HUGE effect on your life and has helped to guide you to where you are/who you are today? I won’t write here what I finally decided to write in the book, but I can say that it was a great honour and I hope that even if he doesn’t manage to read every message that he instead feels the enormous amount of love and admiration that was poured into those pages.
Secondly, I won a place in a competition at work to be part of a video wishing him a happy birthday! Once again we had to prepare a statement (it was a struggle to write a second) and in the end I didn’t even use it! It was quite overwhelming when asked the question “What does Sir Attenborough mean to you?” and I had to stop myself from shouting “EVERYTHING!!” into the camera with hands outstretched and tears running down my face.
Anyway, I managed to compose myself and string a few coherent sentences together, one of which they used in the final cut. So here it is! I’m at 35 seconds in but I recommend you watch the whole video as it’s very heartwarming to hear how he’s influenced all of us at ZSL.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this special month so far and celebrated ‘Attenborough90’ in your own way. If you haven’t yet then don’t forget to tune into Eden to watch him doing what he does best!