Sir David Attenborough to join Edinburgh Festival line-up

Sir David Attenborough will join the lineup at the Edinburgh Festival. Picture; PA
Sir David Attenborough will join the lineup at the Edinburgh Festival. Picture; PA
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The veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough is to discuss his illustrious career at the Edinburgh Festival.

The 91-year-old will recall more than 60 years of working with the BBC during an appearance at the Edinburgh International Television Festival next month.

He joins the likes of Jon Snow, Russell Brand, Rory Bremner, Evan Davis and Sue Perkins in the line-up for the event.

The world-renowned naturalist will speaking at the EICC nearly 20 years after being honoured at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Sir David, who began his career as a producer in 1950 after serving his national service in the navy, has been making nature programmes with the BBC since 1979.

Described by the BBC as “the godfather of natural history,” he has fronted acclaimed documentary programmes like Life on Earth, The Living Planet, Blue Planet and Planet Earth, as well as more than 250 episodes of Wildlife on One.

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However his career also includes a spell as controller of BBC2 in the 1960s and his commissioning of programmes like Call My Bluff, The Money Programme and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and introducing televised snooker.

Sir David will be joined on staged at the TV festival by Julian Hector, head of the BBC Natural History Unit, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

Sir David, pictured below, said: “I’m delighted to be at the TV festival to recall the history of what was the first natural history unit to be set up in the world and to celebrate some of its milestones.”

Mr Hector added: “I grew up with The Living World presented by Peter France on Radio 4 and was studying Zoology at university by the time Sir David Attenborough’s Life on Earth was first broadcast in 1979.

“The BBC Natural History Unit has been part of my life ever since, and I look forward to sharing with the TV Festival all of the astonishing work that goes on behind the scenes to make these incredible series.”

The “in conversation” event at the festival, which runs from 23-25 August, is expected to explore the evolution of the natural history genre, the impact this has had on public understanding and perception of the natural world, and the latest technology breaking new ground in documentary-making.

Festival director Lisa Campbell said: “Sir David Attenborough is a broadcasting legend, synonymous with the incredible programming made by the BBC’s natural history unit, and someone whose wisdom and knowledge is enjoyed across generations.

“It’s long been an ambition of mine to welcome Sir David to the festival and I have no doubt that it will be a remarkable and historic session.”

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The festival has announced that Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow will be delivering the keynote MacTaggart Lecture at the event – following in the footsteps of Dennis Potter, Rupert Murdoch, Kevin Spacey, Janet Street-Porter and Armando Iannucci.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is also lined up for an appearance at the event – two years after she delivered the “Alternative MacTaggart”, a role Russell Brand will be filling this year.

Television producer Russell T Davies, who was behind the revival of Doctor Who, as well as Torchwood, Queer as Folk, Bob & Rose, The Second Coming and Casanova, will receive an outstanding achievement award at the festival.

Leading industry executives due to appear include ITV’s director of television Kevin Lygo, Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s director of content, and Channel Four’s chief creative officer, Jay Hunt. Veteran Blue Peter presenters Valerie Singleton and Peter Purves will be appearing at a special event to mark the show’s 60th anniversary, while Rory Bremner will be leading a debate on “the apparent lack of British topical comedy on TV.”

Other special guests include actress Vicky McClure, comic Katherine Ryan and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the creator of the hit BBC comedy series Fleabag, which started life at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Anneka Rice, Gaby Roslin, Edith Bowman, Nick Grimshaw, Krishnan Guru-Murphy, Lauren Laverne, Aasmah Mir and Kirsty Wark are among the other broadcasters due to appear on stage.