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Life on Air Paperback – 20 May 2010


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Life on Air + Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild [DVD & UV Copy] + Africa [DVD]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; Revised edition edition (20 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849900019
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849900010
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sir David Attenborough is Britain's best-known natural history film-maker. His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly six decades.

His first job - after Cambridge University and two years in the Royal Navy - was at a London publishing house. Then in 1952 he joined the BBC as a trainee producer, and it was while working on the Zoo Quest series (1954-64) that he had his first opportunity to undertake expeditions to remote parts of the globe, to capture intimate footage of rare wildlife in its natural habitat.

He was Controller of BBC2 (1965-68), during which time he introduced colour television to Britain, then Director of Programmes for the BBC (1969-1972). However, in 1973 he abandoned administration altogether to return to documentary-making and writing, and has established himself as the world's leading Natural History programme maker with several landmark BBC series, including Life on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), The Trials of Life (1990), The Private Life of Plants (1995), Life of Birds (1998), The Blue Planet (2001), Life of Mammals (2002), Planet Earth (2006) and Life in Cold Blood (2008).

Sir David was knighted in 1985, is an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Royal Society, and stands at the forefront of issues concerning the planet's declining species and conservation


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Red on Black TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Jan 2011
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What can you say about the great man? I have been listening to "Life on Air" in the car throughout the Christmas period on a variety of long journeys and having Sir David Attenborough as your travelling companion is frankly as good as it gets since the world is a better place with this man around. Some reviewers have pointed out that with 16 CDs this is somewhat of a labour of love and could be viewed as a bit of a slog, that said I have found myself rationing this wonderful set of audio memoirs and trying to savour its narrative by treating it as a guilty pleasure.

On reflection the the part of the audio book I enjoyed the most was Attenborough's account of the early days of the BBC, how he stumbled into a job in the "Talks dept of Auntie". Its difficult now to visualise those early days of TV and quite how haphazard and prone to breakdown it was. The early deals at Alexander Palace would see programmes massively over run, a diet of home economics programmes shown in the afternoon "for women" and cameras so primitive that the heat from them would give you a suntan. Attenborough arrived at the right time in this embryo organisation despite his early failure as an interviewer when it was concluded by the feisty BBC executive Mary Adams that "his teeth were to big for television" but he was soon producing the programmes and I loved his hilarious reminiscences about the Sir Mortimer Wheeler and one of the first BBC quizes "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral"?. Indeed what this book reveals fully is that Attenborough is not only the BBCs greatest asset and a national treasure but someone who in addition is a brilliant raconteur and also has a very masterful line in dry and jocular humour.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Collector on 6 Sep 2011
Format: Paperback
Attenborough writes, unsurprisingly, just as enthusiastically as he presents. Wonderful anecdotes, not only, of his extensive travels but also behind the scenes - literally - at the BBC. A real insight into why and how his epic series were made and the enormous team efforts required to get those magnificent programmes to the armchair viewer. Comic moments pop up with a dry humour which illustrate the modesty of a giant of natural history. Leaves you wanting more!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ashmeister on 18 July 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a huge fan of Sir David so chose to purchase his book to learn a bit more about his life before he became the well-known naturalist I am familiar with.
What a wonderful book! he has such a great way of telling a story, so descriptive, full of anecdotes and very funny! You can hear his voice in your head as you are reading, it pulls you in and keeps you reading for hours!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sally Daunt on 14 Nov 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book, full of wit and information. If only David Attenborough ruled the world!!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Simon McMahon VINE VOICE on 18 Nov 2010
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Both myself and my partner are huge fans of David Attenborough. We are slowly collecting the DVDs of his Life collection and regularly plonk down in front of the TV to watch one of his shows. So when I had the opportunity to get Life on Air through the Vine programme, I jumped at the chance. As the title indicates, this is the story of Attenborough's career rather than his personal life (though this is touched upon now and again) and as such provides a fascinating insight into the world (and the origins) of natural history programming. The great thing about it being an audio book is that we can both listen together.

This is a truly wonderful, in depth account of his quite incredible career. What surprised me was how amusing it is, I laughed aloud on occasion. I particularly enjoyed Sir David's impressions of various people he met over the years. I never thought I'd hear his German accent! This really is a riveting listen even though there is a vast amount of ground covered it never gets boring. One very helpful feature is the fact that each CD is divided into tracks of 2 or 3 minutes making it very easy to get back to where you were after switching off for the night.

I'd also like to point out the great packaging. I have a lot of audio books and these unabridged readings often come in oversized plastic CD boxes with extra sections inside for the additional CDs. These are prone to breakages. This set however looks like a mini VHS box and has all the CD's on a thick spindle. It's a great idea and I have high hopes that this set will stand the test of time... in more ways than one.

I really can't recommend this set highly enough. Sir David has a wonderful voice and this is as close as we'll get to sitting down over dinner and listening to his anecdotes and tales of his Life on Air.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Connor Simms-Page on 12 July 2011
Format: Paperback
an excellent read about Sir Attenborough's life - and I read this even before I had seen any of his masterpieces of television! His insights into the BBC are interesting - I did not know how much he did for " The Beeb" and he manages to convey some of the world's most breathtaking sights to paper. It is a book that is hard to put down, and you can imagine him reading these words aloud to you (I later found there is an audiobook version), and despite being informative, charming, and quite simply brilliant, it is funny - not laugh out loud funny, but funny enough for such a book.
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