After six decades of bringing the wonders of the natural world to television audiences, Sir David Attenborough has finally anointed a successor.
Though he made no indication that he will stop any time soon, the legendary broadcaster suggested that Brian Cox – the man credited with making physics sexy – should take over fronting the BBC’s big budget natural history programmes when he does.
“If I had a torch I would hand it to Brian,” he told an audience at the annual Radio Times Covers Party at Claridge's in London.
The 86-year-old behind award-winning programmes such as Life on Earth and The Living Planet was responding after Cox paid him a touching tribute to mark his 60th anniversary in broadcasting.
Cox, who has become a household name following the success of his BBC2 series Wonders of the Solar System, praised Sir David's ”inspirational“ example in bringing science to the masses.
”He's contributed to science, and thereby contributed to society, to Britain and indeed the world. That's what great science communicators can do,” he said.
“It's very important for us in our industry to recognise that when you do great things, as Sir David has done continually for 60 years, they genuinely make a difference to the world in which we live. Sir David, thank you for inspiring me.”
Following the event, former pop star Cox said he was honoured by Attenborough’s praise.
“Obviously I couldn’t have expected that. David is not ready to pass on the torch yet, that’s the first thing to say – I’m sure he’s got many more series he’s going to make. But it’s an honour. I’m actually lost for words and I’m rarely lost for words…”
Flattered though he may be, Cox will have to hang on for a while longer to receive the torch.
Despite being beset by retirement rumours for years, Attenborough is busier than ever – currently staring on three different TV channels.
Speaking earlier this month about his age, he said: “I'm 86 now and I've been broadcasting for 60 years. I don't want to slow down. Retirement would be so boring.”