Sir David Attenborough has revealed that, despite six decades spent joyfully bringing the wonders of the natural world to its human audience, he has one deep and abiding regret.
Sir David said:
“It seems to me that I really shouldn’t regret anything, because I’ve been just so unbelievably lucky. But if I do have regrets, it is that when my children were the same age as your children, I was away for three months at a time.
“If you have a child of six or eight and you miss three months of his or her life, it’s irreplaceable; you miss something. And I did. And my dear wife was very understanding about it. Perhaps you can’t have your cake and eat it.”
Louis Theroux also asked him about the prospect of being a ‘national treasure’, something Sir David brushed off with customary aplomb:
“It’s easy to be a national treasure if you don’t have to do controversial things. And such opinions that I have that are controversial, if there are any, are not what I share on television… But my stock-in-trade is appreciated by kids of seven and professors of 70 and everything in between. All I have to do is not get in between the animal and the camera too often.”
After so many years of interpreting the squeaks, shrieks and woofs of the animal kingdom, Sir David can easily answer the question of which creature with whom he feels the most natural kinship…
“That has to be an ape. Because our kinship is a reality. I don’t feel it with a mosquito or, indeed, a whale.”
Read the full interview with David Attenborough in the new issue of Radio Times, on sale now.