Is there a more successful public relations manager for Mother Nature and all her wonders than David Attenborough?
For more than 60 years, the English broadcaster and naturalist has opened our eyes to the beauty, symphony and stunning array of life — from our own backyards to the most remote corners of the world. His warm, gravely voice — perhaps one of the best known in the world — is matched by an on-camera personality that has never dulled in its genuinely enthusiastic curiosity about each new discovery.
Alastair Fothergill, a nature documentary producer who has collaborated with Attenborough on everything from "Planet Earth" to "The Hunt," said it best when he called his friend a "modern day Darwin."
"He has seen more of the natural world, not just of anyone in his generation, but anybody who has ever lived on our planet," he told the RadioTimes. "His life has been perfectly timed. He started traveling in the early 1950s when the world was basically still pristine — the damage we’ve done has been done since then. So he’s not just seen more than anyone else but he’s seen more change than anybody who has ever lived.”
With Attenborough turning 90 years young on May 8, we thought it would be the perfect time to revisit some classic moments from his more than six decades of broadcasting. They offer a reflection of a playful, reverential and inquisitive explorer who has never stopped inspiring us to slow down, look closer and gape at the incredulous wonder of it all.
Attenborough narrates the beginning of Adele's 'Hello'
The setup: Attenborough is tasked with providing narration for the beginning of the music video for Adele's international hit "Hello." This is so good, we're thinking the pop star should recruit him to introduce all of her music videos going forward.
Best line: "She, like all pop stars, needs to hunt to survive."
Greater bird-of-paradise won't let Attenborough finish a sentence
The setup: Attenborough encounters a greater bird-of-paradise and takes a moment to introduce its wonder to the camera. The bird, however, will barely let him get a word in. Comedy gold.
Best line: "..when he came to allocate a scientific name to this bird, he called it ... Woo Hoo."
Falling head-over-heels for Cameron Diaz
The setup: During a guest appearance on "The Graham Norton Show," Cameron Diaz reveals to Attenborough that she originally wanted to be a zoologist. His dreamy admiration swells from there.
Best line: "You should see the outtakes!"
Attenborough recites the classic 'What a Wonderful World'
The setup: Attenborough recites the lyrics to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" while beautiful highlights from various BBC nature docs pass over the screen. This one inspires equal-parts goosebumps and smiles.
Best line: "And I think to myself, what a wonderful world."
Showing how the lyre bird mimics the sound of a chainsaw
The setup: Attenborough comes across a lyre bird in Australia, well-known for its incredible ability to mimic with precision any sound it hears. Watch the genius at work as he manages to sneak up and introduce this bird before it leaves the camera's frame.
Best line: "What bird has the most elaborate, the most complex, the most beautiful song in the world?"
A 30-year-old Attenborough on the hunt for an orangutan
The setup: In 1956, at only 30 years of age, Attenborough traveled to Indonesia in search of the Komodo dragon, and elusive orangutan and other species.
Best line: "The trail must still be warm and the ape was probably quite close."
What happens when you attempt to frighten a sloth?
The setup: Attenborough introduces us to a sloth, perhaps the only creature in his long career that he does not need to sneak up on.
Best line: "That's what's going to happen to you if you live on nothing but leaves."
Amazing DIY orangutans
The setup: Attenborough examines a group of orangutans that have been rescued and returned to the wild, picking up some very-human actions along the way.
Best line: "It's very striking, when you sit as close to an orangutan as this, to see how similar they are to human beings. We are both, of course, great apes."
Getting up close with the world's largest flower
The setup: Attenborough travels to the tropical rain forest of Sumatra to show us titan arum, the world's largest flower. While beautiful, it's smell is so bad that it has been given the nickname of "the corpse flower."
Best line: "If you smell it, [coughing], it smells very strongly of bad fish."