David Attenborough: ‘Bugs are like the best sci-fi!’

David Attenborough tells us about his venture into the scary 3D world of insects and bugs in Sky1HD’s Micro Monsters 3D with David Attenborough (Wednesday)…

I’ve seen the first episode and it’s quite scary in places. Do you get a little bit of a kick in potentially terrifying viewers?
“We like to be scared – especially kids! Plus bugs are only as big as ‘that’ so… [At this point Sir David Attenborough stamps his foot on the floor, squashes an imaginary bug and chuckles playfully] I get a great kick out of seeing these mega shots where suddenly ordinary things become amazing, threatening or entrancing. Seeing a spider spin a web close-up in 3D is riveting and you realise how extraordinarily complex these creatures are. It’s like the best science fiction!”

Why do you think insects get such a bad press?
“Precisely because of that! [Sir David squashes another imaginary bug] Because insects are on different scales, both in dimension and time, we don’t bother to consider their alien worlds. Often when we see them, we step on them! 3D gives us the sensory apparatus to move into their dramatic world.”

You’re clearly not a technophobe. What do you love about the new methods of film-making?
“While I love it, I’d die laughing if anyone said I’d embraced new technology – I’m not very good at using it. But I really enjoy the new television technology. When I started 60 years ago we produced pictures that were terrible and programmes that were even worse! So making the last programmes of my career in 3D is thrilling.”

How did you and the team decide which insects to feature when it came to making the series?
“It was a communal effort and also depended on what was available and practical. It’s all very well me saying there’s a fabulous insect in Siberia, but you have to be sensible!”

What’s the attraction of making a six-part series about insects?
“I think they tell their own stories in a very vivid way. They’re so strange and unpredictable that their stories hold you. It’s very rewarding to make films about the drama of ants and to work in this new area, which so few others have moved into. If the public wanted it, I could go on making programmes for ever, it’s endlessly exciting.”

In terms of insects’ social elements, do any of these insects reflect anything of our own society?
“No, they’re completely alien – that’s why I like them. They don’t have morals for us at all. Using your child as a stick of glue, as some ants do, isn’t an example we ought to follow, but it’s what an ant does. There’s no moral loading which tells an ant it’s being a good or bad mother, it’s just looking after its young in a certain kind of way. It’s a new and exciting way of looking at reality.”

Would you like to see the Natural World being included on the educational curriculum?

“It’s very important. We depend on the natural world and yet we’re increasingly divorced from it. Children adore it. They’ve an in-born curiosity about the world around them – just offer it to them and they’re absorbed. If we could continue and cultivate that in schools people wouldn’t lose sight of a very enjoyable and delightful part of life. And that’s one of the nice things about programmes like this, it rekindles that excitement. It can be hard to convince television executives that a programme about spiders is going to be a winner, but people really are very interested in the natural world.”


Latest TV News