My Mentor: Charlotte Uhlenbroek on Sir David Attenborough
'He's witty and a great raconteur. in fact, very much like he is on screen'
Monday 12 February 2007
I grew up in Nepal, but one of the things I loved when I was in England was watching David Attenborough on the telly. I was passionate about animals and I was completely mesmerised by his Life on Earth series. I hadn't then formulated what I wanted to do very specifically, but I knew it would be working with animals in some capacity, and David's enthusiasm was infectious.
When I was working on my PhD in Bristol, I was asked to be an adviser on wildlife programmes. I was then featured with my chimps in Jonathan Scott's Dawn to Dusk and went on to make a series about them.
I first met David in the late 1990s in Kenya. We were both filming there, and the crew I was with said one night: "We're going out to dinner and David will be there."
I remember being terrified that I was finally going to meet the great man, and very excited at the same time. But he was just so easy-going and charming that it felt like I'd known him for ages. He's very good at putting people at ease, and he's also witty and a great raconteur; in fact, very much like he is on screen.
He knew who I was and we were able to bond over both being presenters. Knowing him and his values made me realise that having the integrity that he has is incredibly important in television. Whatever programmes I do, I want to have a genuine interest in the subject.
We later worked together on the Great Ape Event, raising awareness about the serious plight of the great apes, and David and I did talks and appeals alongside leading scientists. Part and parcel of David's integrity is that he is always genuinely interested in what he's talking about, which really comes across, and there's an authority that comes with that. He is hugely knowledgeable about the natural world, and indeed most subjects, and he doesn't have any airs or graces. Wherever you go in the world people know his name, and they always have good things to say about him.
Charlotte Uhlenbroek presents 'Safari School' on weekdays on BBC2 at 6pm
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