SIR DAVID Attenborough doesn’t need an introduction. His name is synonymous with some of the most weird and wonderful inhabitants of the animal kingdom.
The veteran broadcaster doesn’t show any signs of slowing – not bad going for a man in his mid-eighties.
Alas, he might be suffering from a severe case of overexposure at the moment. Not only has the BBC been paying tribute to him with a series of Friday night documentaries, he’s about to pop up on Sky 3D, present a programme about the Galapagos islands and is also taking charge of this show, Africa.
Here, Sir David takes a breathtaking journey through the vast and diverse continent of Africa.
It’s a place he’s been to before, of course, but not quite in as in-depth a way. He’s filmed this stunning-looking six-part series over the course of four years – and it certainly covers some ground, from the Atlas Mountains to the Cape of Good Hope, the jungles of the Congo to the Atlantic Ocean.
Using the latest in filming technology, we get an animal’s-eye view of the action, as Sir David’s journey begins in the Kalahari, in Africa’s southwest corner. It’s a place where two deserts sit next to one another, and where creatures we’re familiar with have developed the most ingenious survival techniques.
For Sir David, the programme comes at the end of a busy year which has seen him celebrate his diamond jubilee. Yes, the naturalist and filmmaker has been in the business for 60 years. It’s a milestone that, of course, hasn’t gone unnoticed by the BBC, and was marked last month with the documentary series 60 Years in the Wild.
Asked for the highlights of his career, Sir David told one interviewer: “Watching birds of paradise display, diving on a coral reef, seeing the gorillas at dawn, a lagoon in Spain with everything going on – the clouds, the geese and the sun,” he says.
“At the time, you’re too busy to really appreciate it, but the joy of those moments comes back to you when you see the programmes.” He remembers where it all began – in Sierra Leone, filming Zoo Quest.
“We were very incompetent,” he recalled. “We wouldn’t survive a minute in today’s world. We bumbled about. The gear was pretty amateur stuff.”
Now, more than half a century on, he’s working just as hard – thankfully.
Queen Victoria’s Children
BBC Two, 8pm
We all know Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert, that they were madly in love and had nine children during their 21-year marriage. Although we’re told their marriage was a happy one, we know little about their life together, or Victoria’s relationships with her offspring. This three-part documentary aims to set the record straight, using records left by the couple.
Law & Order: UK star Harriet Walter makes a guest appearance in this new Midsomer Murders episode – and she should at least already be familiar with its set-up. That’s because, back in 2005, she appeared in an edition entitled Orchis Fatalis as Margaret Winstanley. Of course, then, she was dealing with John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby, not Neil Dudgeon as John, his equally skilled nephew.
Gok’s Style Secrets
Channel 4, 8pm
GOK Wan has single-handedly tackled the fashion-shy, taught us how to cook, and even turned his hand to playing Cupid, pairing together some of the most baggage-laden, loveless people across the land. So it makes sense that this latest vehicle for the star presenter would see him combining two of his talents and dressing single women in the hope it will get them back in the dating game.
One Born Every Minute
Channel 4, 9pm
Following the success of the last series, cameras are following life in not one, but two busy maternity wards. Among those featured in this opening episode is Stacey, who is expecting her second child. However, every time she thinks she is in labour, it turns out to be a false alarm. Something’s got to happen eventually!