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Desert Island Discs

David Attenborough

Desert Island - Attenborough
Fairfax Media Archives/Getty

David Attenborough, who has just turned 95, has been to most places, though never to Mount Everest. “I won’t make it now, but as a teenager I thought that the only thing a red-blooded Englishman really should do was to climb Everest,” he told Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs in 2012. His love of the natural world began in rural Leicestershire, where he collected fossils as a boy. Later he won a scholarship to study zoology at Cambridge, where he met his wife, Jane.

Luckily she “turned out to be a brilliant carer for animals”. The couple once kept a roomful of bush babies. On another occasion Jane was asked by London Zoo to look after a sick baby gibbon, which for weeks lived happily in a sling on her arm. Attenborough has a special fondness for primates, particularly after his “extraordinary” encounter with a female gorilla in Rwanda. The curious gorilla looked him straight in the eye, put her huge banana-sized finger in his mouth, opened it and had a look inside.


🎵 Pajaro Campana (The Bell Bird), Francisco Yglesia

🎵 Impromptu No 1 in F minor, Schubert

🎵 And the Glory of the Lord (from Messiah), Handel

🎵 Lyre bird recording

🎵 Goldberg Variations, No 3, Bach

🎵 Traditional Legong music, Gamelan Orchestra

🎵 Wiener Bürger waltz, Carl Michael Ziehrer

🎵 Soave sia il vento (from Così fan tutte), Mozart

📕 Shifts and Expedients of Camp Life, WB Lord

🎁 A piano

Listen to the full episode here.