David Attenborough 'risked bird flu that could kill him' for new documentary series
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David Attenborough risked catching bird flu while filming a new show about the wildlife of Britain, one of the production team has claimed. Here's the trailer for the new series - Wild Isles:
If you’ve been to the park recently, you might well have noticed some sign up telling you to stay away from birds, and keep your pets away them, too.
That’s because there’s a pretty large bird flu crisis going on just now, which has led to thousands of birds being killed and sparked concerns that it could spread to humans.
Well, this became a real concern for one of Britain’s best loved TV personalities - Sir David Attenborough - recently as he was filming new series Wild Isles, which aims to give Britain the full nature documentary treatment.
Attenborough, at the age of 96 let’s not forget, was up in the middle of the night on the Welsh island of Skomer waiting for a Manx shearwater chick to take flight for the first time for a migration to South America.
It’s not something that is easy to catch, because it takes place in the middle of a moonless night.
That means that it needed the use of special infra-red cameras, as well as leaving Sir Dave standing wrapped up outside a burrow – yes, they live in burrows – for hours.
Series producer Alastair Fothergill said that the scene they eventually captured was ‘very very emotional’.
He told the Mirror: “David just hasn’t changed.
“He has a boyish enthusiasm for nature.
“It was an amazing night.”
However, there were challenges both logistical and medical to contend with.
Firstly, Dave had to climb 68 concrete steps to get up to the top of the island from the boat jetty, which is tough enough for a 90-odd year old.
Then, there was the bird flu risk.
Fothergill said: “Bird flu was travelling south and it had reached the island of Grassholm which is very close.
“I thought I was going to have to cancel it all.
“But I have an old friend who is a government advisor on infectious diseases and I said to him, ‘What shall we do?’
“He said, ‘If David gets it he will die, but it’s actually very, very hard to get bird flu.
“'As long as David is just by the bird, on the rock, it’ll be fine’.
“Everyone was happy, but it was a bit unnerving.”
Yes, it sounds it.
As for the series itself, it aims to show off the most spectacular parts of nature on the British Isles, from orcas in Shetland to these remarkable birds on Skomer.
Opening the series, Sir David explains: “I’ve been lucky enough to travel to almost every part of the globe and gaze upon some of its most beautiful and dramatic sights.
“I can assure you that nature in these islands, if you know where to look, can be just as dramatic, as spectacular as anything I’ve seen elsewhere.”
Obviously, there’s a clear environmental message too.
David continues: “Never has there been a more important time to invest in our own wildlife, to try to set an example for the rest of the world and restore our once wild isles for future generations.”
Jack Bootle, the BBC Head of Specialist Factual programming, said of the show: “It is my deepest wish that the series inspires viewers to sit up, take notice and safeguard what remains of that nature for the future.”