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Everything you need to know about Sir David Attenborough

How much do you know about the national treasure?

david attenborough portrait
Emmy Griffiths
Emmy GriffithsTV & Film Editor
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With Sir David Attenborough back on our screens for Natural World, we have found out everything you need to know about the national treasure himself, from how he got started as a naturalist and documentary-maker to his upcoming projects. David was born in London in 1926, and had two brothers, one of whom was the acting legend, Richard Attenborough. He was raised on the University of Leicester campus, where his dad was the principle, but ended up going to the University of Cambridge for his own upper education.

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David with Prince Charles and Princess Anne 

After studying natural sciences, David immediately became interested in creating nature shows for television as a producer at the BBC, and made his name in creating incredible documentaries over several decades. The naturalist holds a record 32 honorary degrees from universities across the UK, including the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He was also given a knighthood in 1985. Many species, living and extinct, have been named after David, including a Peruvian frog (Pristimantis attenboroughi), a miniature marsupial lion (Microleo attenboroughi) and a fan-throat lizard (Sitana attenboroughii).

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David receiving Insignia of the Order of Merit

However, there is one animal he doesn't like – rats! He told the BBC: "I don't like rats, I've never made a secret of that – they are the ultimate horrible thing. For the first time in nearly a quarter of a century I had a very bad stomach upset in India. I went and sat on the loo and got rid of the entire contents of my stomach, as one does. Well, I was sitting there … and a rat came up from between my legs from the loo. He was wet, I have to tell you."

READ: Where to travel like Sir David Attenborough

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David has always been fascinated by animals 

David was married to Jane Oriel for 47 years before she sadly died from a brain haemorrhage in 1997. The pair have a son and daughter together, Robert and Susan. After the death of his wife, his daughter moved in with him. Talking about dealing with his grief, he previously told the Radio Times: "You accommodate things… you deal with things. I'm quite used to solitude in the wilds but, no, an empty house is not what I enjoy. But my daughter's there. In moments of grief – deep grief – the only consolation you can find is in the natural world."

READ: Prince William to meet Sir David Attenborough while pregnant Kate recovers at home

david attenborough portrait© Photo: Getty Images

David is a keen enviromentalist

David is a keen environmentalist, and his documentaries regularly make comment on the effect humans have on the natural world. He has previously spoken about his concerns regarding the earth's growing population, saying: "The growth in human numbers is frightening. I've seen wildlife under mounting human pressure all over the world, and it's not just from human economy or technology. Behind every threat is the frightening explosion in human numbers."

READ: David Attenborough reprimands Bear Grylls for killing animals on TV

Although David will be celebrating his 92nd birthday in May, he has no interest in retiring. Speaking about the possibility to retirement, he told The Guardian: "If I was earning my money by hewing coal I would be very glad indeed to stop. But I'm not. I'm swanning round the world looking at the most fabulously interesting things. Such good fortune." So what's next for David? Following Natural World, David will make a BBC documentary based on families of animals. Speaking to the Mirror, he said: "The BBC Natural History Unit has started following families of animals – cave hunting dogs, lions, chimpanzees. We don't know what is going to happen but whatever does, we will be there to show it to you. I am not going to go into detail but I can tell you there will be some fairly dark moments and we won't tidy it up."