Sir David Attenborough's career as a broadcaster and naturalist has endured for an impressive 60 years. His accessible storytelling has inspired generations to learn more about the natural world and brought to life all creatures great and small on our television screens.
He joined the BBC as a trainee producer in 1952. While working on the Zoo Quest series (1954-64), he gained his first opportunity to undertake expeditions to remote parts of the globe to capture intimate footage of rare wildlife in its natural habitat.
He moved into management as Controller of BBC2 in 1965, during which time he introduced colour television to Britain, and then served as Director of Programmes for the organisation from 1969 to 1972. In 1973, he abandoned administration altogether to return his great passion – making natural history documentaries.
His stable of landmark BBC series include Life on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), The Trials of Life (1990), The Private Life of Plants (1995), Life of Birds (1998), Life of Mammals (2002), Life in the Undergrowth (2005), Life in Cold Blood (2008) and First Life (2010).
He has received honorary degrees from many universities across the world, and is patron or supporter of many charitable organisations, including acting as patron of the World Land Trust, which buys rainforest and other lands to preserve them and the animals that live there.
He is the only person to have won BAFTAs for programmes in black and white, colour, HD, and 3D formats.
Brian Cox is an English physicist and professor best known for his easy ability to explain big science to the general public.
Brian is based at the University of Manchester and works in the High Energy Physics group. He’s also a research fellow of the Royal Society and works at the CERN facility in Geneva on the ATLAS experiment, home of the Large Hadron Collider.
Brian is a man of many talents and is also a successful musician. In the 1980s he was a keyboard player for rock band Dare until the band split up in 1992. While studying physics at the University of Manchester, Brian joined D:Ream, a group that went on to achieve UK chart success, including the number one hit, Things Can Only Get Better.
Since hanging up his rock and pop cloak, Brian has appeared in many TV science programmes, like Horizon, The Big Bang Machine and Stargazing Live. He is also the co-author of several books and was the science advisor for the Danny Boyle film, Sunshine.
He has received many rewards for his work in popularising science, including fellowships, honorary doctorates and awards for his presenting skills.
Hailing from scenic Tobermory on Scotland’s wildlife-rich Isle of Mull, Gordon grew up watching Sir David Attenborough documentaries.
He took his first steps into natural history broadcasting at the tender age of 17, when the late wildlife filmmaker Nick Gordon offered him a life-defining job as his filming apprentice in Sierra Leone. Gordon quit school in a heartbeat, and spent the next 18 months documenting beasts in the Gola Rainforest National Park.
After honing his camera skills shooting footage of indigenous Piaroa communities feasting on giant tarantula spiders in Venezuela, and filming all manner of wildlife species in the Brazilian Amazon, Gordon purchased his own recording kit and braved becoming a cameraman in his own right.
Assignments to film lions and hyenas in the Serengeti, leopards by night in Sri Lanka and tigers in the Brazilian rainforest gained Gordon kudos as a big cat specialist, and he has since gone on to become one of the UK’s most celebrated on-screen wildlife cameramen.
In addition to becoming a household name as the face of the popular BBC series Big Cat Diary, Gordon’s other noteworthy TV credits include The Polar Bear Family and Me, The Bear Family and Me, Land of the Tiger, Land of the Lost Wolves and Wild Burma: Nature’s Lost Kingdom.
In 2013, Gordon became a patron of Trees for Life, a conservation charity committed to restoring the Caledonian Forest in the Scottish Highlands.
Robson Golightly Green was born in Hexham in the county of Northumberland and grew up in a small mining village near Newcastle upon Tyne. His first job after leaving school was as an apprentice draughtsman, but he soon decided that his future lay in acting.
After completing his training at various theatres in the north-east of England, he started to appear on television screens across the country, playing loudmouthed porter Jimmy Powell in the long-running hospital drama Casualty.
This led to him landing the role that really made his name, when he starred in the popular TV drama Soldier Soldier. His turn as Fusilier Dave Tucker meant that he was an on screen regular in Britain for four years, and the part even turned him in to an unlikely pop star. Teamed up with his Soldier Soldier co-star Jerome Flynn, the duo released a cover version of the Righteous Brothers’ classic Unchained Melody, which remained at the top of the UK charts for seven weeks and became the bestselling UK single of 1995.
After leaving Soldier Soldier the same year, Robson set up his own production company and has remained a regular screen presence in numerous television dramas ever since, including Touching Evil, Waterloo Road, Wire in the Blood and Grantchester.
A keen fisherman, Robson has gone from amateur angler to experienced man of the seas after travelling the world to sample the sport in some of the globe’s greatest fishing locations. In Extreme Fishing with Robson Green and its sequel, Robson Green: Extreme Fisherman, he’s landed marlin, sturgeon, shark – you name it and Robson’s probably caught it.
As well as gracing the small screen and becoming an ace angler, Robson has also been awarded an honorary degree from the University of Northumbria and is a lifelong supporter of Newcastle FC.
Jônatas de Moura Penna, better known as Joe Penna, was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 1987. He moved to the United States as a child and as he was unable to speak English when he first arrived, he spent a lot of his childhood looking at the internet. It wasn’t time wasted though; Joe is now a YouTube multi-millionaire.
Despite his parents’ expectations that their son would become a doctor, the teenage Joe had other ideas. He wanted to make videos, and his first online hit was a film of him completing a Rubik’s cube to the soundtrack of Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt, called The Puzzle. This low-budget outing became so popular that Joe decided to create another film, Guitar Impossible, which showcased him playing Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro on an acoustic guitar (he returned to a Mozart theme in 2010 when he made Root Beer Mozart, an ingenious film of him playing the Overture from The Magic Flute on six root beer bottles).
Guitar Impossible was even more successful than The Puzzle and this prompted Joe to leave the University of Massachusetts, where he was studying medicine, to concentrate on creating online content and producing videos full time. After a stint as a cinematographer filming music videos and commercials in Boston, he headed to the bright lights of Los Angeles, where he still lives.
His YouTube channel, MysteryGuitarMan, was launched in 2006. Since then, Joe’s love of music, coupled with creative editing and production, has helped him to make films which have amassed fans from around the world. His channel is one of YouTube’s most successful.
Joe’s also branched out into directing commercials for national television in the US, including making adverts for McDonalds and Coca-Cola. He’s made the jump into television as a presenter too, as the frontman of Xploration Earth 2050.
Extreme environment athlete Richard Parks was born in Wales in 1977 to a Jamaican mother and Welsh father. He attended boarding schools in Wales and South Africa, but his standout skill as a child quickly became obvious – he excelled at rugby.
Richard first started showing promise as a rugby union player after starting to play the game at age 11, and was selected to play for Welsh Schools at under-18 level. He became a professional rugby player after leaving school, signing his first contract with Newport Rugby Football Club whilst simultaneously studying for a degree in dentistry from Cardiff University.
Although he suffered a serious back injury at the age of 20, his sporting career flourished and he went on to become a back row forward representing his country and playing for famed clubs including Pontypridd, Leeds, Perpignan and The Barbarians. But after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in 2009, Richard was forced to retire early from the sport that he loved.
Whilst recovering from surgery following the injury, Richard read a book by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and was inspired to start refocusing his life towards endurance and adrenalin-fuelled pursuits. In 2010, Richard embarked on the 737 Challenge, endeavouring to become the first ever person to climb the highest mountain on each of the world's seven continents and stand on all three poles – the North Pole, the South Pole and the summit of Everest – all within seven months. He successfully completed the challenge in July 2011, raising thousands of pounds for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
But he didn’t stop there. At the start of 2014, Richard became the fastest Briton in history to ski solo, unsupported and unassisted from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, completing the journey in 29 days, 19 hours and 24 minutes. He also became the first Welsh person to complete that challenge!
Born in India in 1957, Michael initially studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University and worked as a London banker before training to become a doctor at London’s Royal Free Hospital.
He then swapped hands-on medicine for journalism, joining the BBC as an assistant trainee producer and cutting his TV teeth working behind the scenes on such popular shows as Newsnight, Tomorrow's World and Horizon. He has since produced a wide range of science-based shows, including The Human Face with John Cleese, three series with Professor Robert Winston, and Jeremy Clarkson's Inventions that Changed the World.
In front of camera, he has become a household name as a regular medic on the daily BBC topical magazine programme, The One Show.
His other presenting credits include Make Me, 10 Things You Never Knew about Losing Weight and the surgery series Blood and Guts. Michael has also fronted Medical Mavericks (looking at those behind the great developments in medicine), Inside the Human Body (examining all the workings of the body), and Frontline Medicine (highlighting the innovative and vital link between warfare and medicine).
Michael's programmes on exercise (The Truth About Exercise) and diet (Eat, Fast & Live Longer – which led to the 5:2 diet) have produced much popular and media discussion as he examined the benefits of short, high-intensity exercise and fasting for two days a week.
Earth is an amazing place...
How you and the world have changed since you were born
You don't ever know what Mother Nature's going to throw at you. You do know, it will kill you if it has a chance.Sue Aikens