Sunday, 10 April 2016
375 Life On Earth
First viewed : 21 January 1979
This was a major TV event, the first and most famous of David Attenborough's landmark wildlife documentary series ( as opposed to self-contained documentaries for Wildlife On One or The World About Us ). In 13 55- minute episodes he traced the standard evolutionary timeline from amoebas and jellyfish to human beings , filming the most colourful examples of each species. In the course of it he became a national treasure, a position he has never forfeited.
The undoubted highlight of the series was his impromptu encounter with the mountain gorillas of Rwanda in the penultimate episode which has become one of the most famous pieces of television ever filmed.
I tend to be more interested in cold-blooded species so the earlier episodes were the best for me but it was all top notch stuff. I remember being chuffed that the final episode on humans incorporated a bit of wrestling footage , illustrating audience reaction to a fight between Giant Haystacks and , I think, Tony St Clair.
One other great thing about the series was that it didn't have those tedious final ten minute segments showing "how we did it" . Those are a curse of the media studies generation and boring as hell to anyone who doesn't want to work in television. I'm not saying TV producers should guard their tricks like the Magic Circle but it's criminal to jettison 10 minutes of precious wildlife footage in order to show bearded guys setting up cameras and microphones in unlikely places.
We watched the Sunday night repeat because the original broadcast on a Tuesday night clashed with Dallas.