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Nature’s Most Famous Voice for ‘A Perfect Planet’

Crowds gather for the naming ceremony of the polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, Britain, Sept. 26, 2019. (Reuters photo)
Nature’s Most Famous Voice for ‘A Perfect Planet’
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When it comes to English-language nature programs, perhaps the world’s most well-known voice is David Attenborough.

Sir David Attenborough - as he is known in his native Britain - is a major television star. But he is also a tireless explorer and world traveler. Attenborough has visited many countries and has presented many animals from across the planet. He has been explaining the natural world to TV audiences since the 1950s.

Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, Sir David Attenborough, Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales and Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex at the World Premiere of Our Planet held at the Natural History Museum in London, April 4, 2019. (AP photo)
Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, Sir David Attenborough, Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales and Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex at the World Premiere of Our Planet held at the Natural History Museum in London, April 4, 2019. (AP photo)

Enjoying local nature

Like many of us, Attenborough has been in his house for much of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. He has only left his home twice -- to have his teeth worked on.

But that does not mean this lifelong lover of the outdoors has been cut off from nature. He told the Associated Press that he has been able to enjoy the natural world in his garden in a new way.

“I’ve seen the world go by in the natural world in my garden with a continuity and intensity that I haven’t been able to give it for, almost forever, really.”

Making a nature show during a pandemic

Attenborough has also found ways to keep working. He is the voice of a new BBC and Discovery series called “A Perfect Planet.” It will air in early January. Even at age 94, the famous TV presenter’s voice has not lost its most well-known qualities - warmth, calm, and curiosity.

Making the documentary series during the pandemic, however, required a high level of creativity, technology, and a lot of blankets. With blankets hanging off his walls, Attenborough was able to record from his home in West London. Blanketing the walls helps to deaden unwanted sounds.

A technical setup permitted Attenborough to watch the video while his producer Alastair Fothergill advised him, from over 160 kilometers away in Bristol.

A microphone wire went out the window. This way, his voice could be recorded by a crew member in the garden. A small outdoor building was built to make recordings in the winter.

But in the summer, Attenborough said, the crew member “was sitting out in the rain and he was listening to what I was saying and recording it.”

This was not the only remote-controlled success on the series. The music used for the program was also recorded at great distance.

The head of music production is Ilan Ishkeri. He was able to stay in Britain, while directing an orchestra in Iceland. That orchestra was used, Fothergill said, because Iceland was not under heavy anti-virus restrictions.

“It’s been challenging,” Fothergill admits. “But I think that the final product is absolutely up to the really high standards we set ourselves.”

An environmental activist

The series is a celebration of why Earth is such the ideal environment for many different kinds of animals to live and co-exist.

The show was shot in 31 countries over four years. The video includes river turtles laying eggs in the Amazon’s sand bars, brown bears fishing for salmon in Russia and gibbons swinging from the trees in Southeast Asia’s tropical forests.

Different parts of the series look at important parts of nature. These include the sun, the ocean, volcanoes, weather events, and, of course, humans.

From Associated Press YouTube page: Sir David Attenborough talks about "A Perfect Planet" - his new show he voiced from home - as well as life in lockdown and the secret to his long life.​

Everything Attenborough does looks at how current climate change is greatly affecting our world. He also gives suggestions for what people can do, as well as what they should stop doing, to help save the planet.

As for nature being healing during the pandemic, Attenborough knows it comes at a high cost.

He told the Associated Press, “People are dying by the thousands. Let’s not minimize it. It should cause the rest of us, the survivors as it were to pull ourselves together and see that we can act together.”

He added that we all can think of solutions and find ways to use them. It is a message he says he believes people are listening to.

“If the human race is to survive without major catastrophes,” he warns, “now is the time to do so.”

I’m Anna Matteo.

Hillary Fox reported this story for the Associated Press. Anna Matteo adapted it for VOA Learning English. Bryan Lynn was the editor.


Words in This Story

garden – n. an area of ground where plants (such as flowers or vegetables) are grown

continuity – n. the quality of something that does not stop or change as time passes : a continuous quality

curiosity – n. the desire to learn or know more about something or someone

blanket – n. a covering made of cloth that is used especially on a bed to keep you warm

remote-controlled – adj. controlled (as by a radio signal) from a distance : operated by means of remote control

challenging – adj. difficult in a way that is usually interesting or enjoyable

standard – n. a level of quality, achievement, etc., that is considered acceptable or desirable

minimize – v. to make (something bad or not wanted) as small as possible

catastrophe – n. a terrible disaster