UK
18/09/2013 12:39 BST | Updated 18/09/2013 12:48 BST

David Attenborough's Awkward Interview: Evan Davies Asks Him How Long He Wants To Live

PA
Attenborough interview

When Sir David Attenborough appeared on the Today programme, he might have been expected to talk about his new series, David Attenborough's Rise of Animals.

But the 87-year-old broadcasting legend somehow ended up being asked how long he would like to live, before being dramatically cut off as he grappled with a question about euthanasia.

After talking about his strong views on population control, interviewer Evan Davies said: "Let's talk about you, Sir David, if we might, just for a moment, because often course people often wonder how long you can...go on making programmes."

When Attenborough admitted he could no longer "run 100 yards, or climb at tree", Davies dug deeper:

Davies: "There is some debate, isn't there, about whether we, and this comes back I suppose to the population control and awkward issues, about how far we should prolong life in elderly people, beyond the comfortable position that people might have?"

Attenborough, laughing: "Oh boy, you are fishing up the sticky issues, aren't you?"

Davies tried again: "Quality of life versus length of life, what's your hope for yourself? Are you someone who just hopes to keep going as long as you possibly can, even if it's uncomfortable, or not?"

Attenborough said there were people whose lives had become so "wretched" that they wished it would end, and was cut off when asked if he agreed with Stephen Hawking and thought that "people in pain should be allowed to take their own life".

Some suggested a producer had intervened, as the interview became increasingly awkward.