Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

I've Been Trying to Film a Snow Leopard for 60 Years ....If Somebody Else Had Done That Commentary I'd Have Been Livid; AS SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH RETURNS WITH PLANET EARTH II, THE VETERAN PRESENTER TELLS SARAH MARSHALL ABOUT TICKING OFF ONE OF HIS LIFELONG DREAMS

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

I've Been Trying to Film a Snow Leopard for 60 Years ....If Somebody Else Had Done That Commentary I'd Have Been Livid; AS SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH RETURNS WITH PLANET EARTH II, THE VETERAN PRESENTER TELLS SARAH MARSHALL ABOUT TICKING OFF ONE OF HIS LIFELONG DREAMS

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH MARSHALL

ANATURAL history broadcaster for more than 60 years and one of the world's most travelled men, there can't be much Sir David Attenborough hasn't seen.

But one animal has eluded the venerated naturalist throughout his entire career - until now.

"The snow leopard," says Sir David, slowly drawing out each syllable as if to lavish the rare and regal mountain cat with plaudits.

"Three times I wrote it into scripts, and three times I failed," he adds.

But while filming Planet Earth II, the highly anticipated follow-up to the 2006 series, the BBC struck gold.

"They put 20 or 30 camera traps around the Himalayan mountains," he explains, describing the mammoth 34-week shoot, spanning three years, in Ladakh's Hemis National Park.

"Suddenly, we'd captured a sequence of this most beautiful of animals, which roams an area of one every 100 square miles - that's all."

The resulting footage, which features the typically solitary cats having a bloody altercation, portrays remarkable species behaviour never seen before by TV audiences.

"If somebody else had done the commentary, I would have been livid!" Sir David exclaims. "I've been trying to do this for 60 years."

The new six-part series focuses on a different ecosystem each episode (Islands, Mountains, Jungles, Deserts, Grasslands and Cities), and was filmed across an ambitious 117 locations and 40 countries.

It's 10 years since the original Planet Earth series was made and technology has advanced enormously. Sir David admits many of the new sequences filmed simply wouldn't have been possible in the past.

"When I started in 1954, the limitations were huge," says the man whose excitement and sprightly enthusiasm belie his 90 years.

"Now you can film in the dark, at the bottom of the sea, in the air; you can speed things up and slow things down.

"My imagination is limited but I can't think of anything I'd wish to be able to do which I can't do now."

Scenes in the new series include a roller coaster ride through a Madagascan forest canopy, cameras swinging in tandem with agile Indri lemurs, and a bird's eye view of a golden eagle stooping between Europe's jagged Alpine peaks, filmed by a paraglider.

"Drones also opened lots of windows on this series," says executive producer Mike Gunton, referring to scenes shot in the narrow slot canyons of Arizona.

"It's often very difficult to get a person in them, but we flew a drone down one to get the perspective of water running through. It's a wonderful shot."

Far greater challenges faced the team on the remarkable Zavodovski Island, a remote, uninhabited volcanic land mass in the Southern Atlantic Ocean.

It took producer Elizabeth White a year to secure permission to visit the world's largest penguin colony of more than 1. …

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