Sir David Attenborough has seen the world. He is a demi-god to hardcore natural historians and part-time stoners alike, revolutionising the world of television from behind the camera and in front of it. His first ever live talk show, A Life on Earth, was held at the Sydney State Theatre on the 10th and 11th of August and at $235 a pop I was gladly gifted my ticket to the Friday show by a friends’ mother.
Hosted by Ray Martin, the price of the ticket reflected the privileged giddiness which consumed the older crowd which was only too ready to laugh, cheer or at least nod their heads with anything out of the great man’s mouth.
The first half of the show was dedicated to Attenborough’s life. He began his career with the black and white Zoo Quest and eventually became Controller of the newly formed BBC2 in 1965 where he worked until the mid-1970s before realising ‘atop a mountain in Borneo’ that his true calling was in front of the camera.
This choice resulted in the David Attenborough most of us are familiar with; his most famous work of writing, narrating and producing the awe-inspiring Life series.
What astounded me about seeing Sir Dave speak live was his cadence of speech. He approached every question thoughtfully and responded with the consistent eloquence that has made him a household name recognised worldwide.
The man is a legend not only because of his accent, but for the fact that he is spontaneous and thoughtful with his choice of words. The brevity of the blooper reel at the show revealed he nailed his presentations first time most of the time – the essence of capturing natural history on film.
Attenborough rarely sat still in his Chesterfield armchair leading Ray Martin to quip that he was ’86 going on 16’. When the legend explained that the secret to staying youthful was a healthy dose of travelling, Mars Bars, and red wine, I also questioned his age.
When asked what his favourite animal was, Attenborough melted the crowd by explaining that he was not able to go past a human baby. Aside from this, birds of paradise got the nod as he spruiked his latest book, an exquisite collection of hand painted pre-camera artworks of the birds with accompanying descriptions of each species.
The second half of the show was comprised of Q and A from the audience and unseen footage from former TV series as well as upcoming television and IMAX shows.
The fervent enthusiasm with which Sir David described the ability of modern technology to convey the world around us provided great insight into how he has persevered from the start of television to his upcoming series, Kingdom of Plants 3D.