Life in Leicester: David Attenborough returns to his roots for TV documentary

Posted by mjs76 at Oct 25, 2010 03:35 PM |
Doyen of natural history broadcasters recalls his childhood on campus.

The legendary Sir David Attenborough, the world’s greatest wildlife broadcaster, used to live on what is now the University of Leicester campus. When he was five (and his brother Richard was eight) their father Frederick Attenborough was appointed principal of what was then University College, Leicester.

The family moved into College House (now part of our Department of Mathematics) which is where David, Dickie and youngest brother Jonathan grew up. The 18-storey Attenborough Tower is named after their father who remained at the College until 1951, a few years before the institution received its University Charter.

As a prelude to David Attenborough’s new series First Life, BBC 2 last night screened a one-hour biographical documentary Attenborough’s Journey which included Sir David’s brief return to the hallowed campus. He pointed out relevant buildings on an aerial photograph in a display at New Walk Museum and recalled the time that his elder brother locked him in a padded cell inside the Fielding Johnson Building, which had been built as a lunatic asylum and subsequently used as a military hospital.*

Until next Sunday you can catch Attenborough’s Journey on BBC iPlayer. First Life (which debuted on the US Discovery Channel) will be broadcast in two parts on BBC 2 on 5 and 12 November. A DVD, including the Attenborough’s Journey companion programme, will be released on 22 November. First Life and Attenborough’s Journey were produced by Atlantic Productions. A book of the series is also available.

David Attenborough was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Leicester in 1970 and in 2006 received the University’s highest honour when he and his brother were named Honorary Distinguished Fellows.

*The University of Leicester would like to stress that the Fielding Johnson Building is now a very pleasant and comfortable working environment for University staff...