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Sir David Attenborough reveals his one regret during 69-year TV career

Renowned documentarian postponed plans to retire from public life to present forthcoming film

Sir David Attenborough has shared the one regret he has about his career in global nature filmmaking.

The renowned documentarian is marking the 69th anniversary of his first television appearance this year.

In a change from his usual explorations of global flora and fauna, his forthcoming series Wild Isles will focus solely on British wildlife.

During a new interview, the 96-year-old broadcaster gave some insight into how his legacy as an internationally focused conservationist came to be.

He explained that early on in his career, he had been encouraged to focus on wildlife overseas while the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol would handle any projects that dealt with nature in Britain.

“There was a chap trying to establish Bristol then as a centre of natural history,” he told The Telegraph in the interview, published on Saturday (18 February).

“He knew which strings to pull and I could see things coming to a head. Eventually, we had a meeting and it was agreed I wouldn’t look at British natural history at all.

“Instead, I would go to Africa, South America and so on and [they] could deal with natural history in Britain. And I stuck to that until very recently.”

Attenborough went on to say that he has regret over adhering to the agreement and not focusing more on British wildlife.

“If there is one thing I regret, and to be honest there isn’t a lot, it would be that I spent so much time doing overseas natural history,” he said.

Elsewhere during the conversation, it was revealed that Attenborough told his close friends and family that he was planning to retire from public life after speaking at the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow in November 2021.

However, after agreeing to narrate Wild Isles, Attenborough also signed up to appear on camera after documentary producer Alastair Fothergill told him that his on-screen involvement was “absolutely critical”.

In December, BBC producer Mike Gunton claimed that Attenborough skipped to the end of the documentaries he narrated for a “charmingly atypical” reason.

Wild Isles will be available on BBC One and iPlayer in early spring.

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