David Attenborough regrets not seeing his children grow up – The Guardian

David Attenborough has admitted that his greatest regret about his illustrious career is how time spent travelling meant he missed out on seeing his children grow up.

Attenborough, 91, is one of the UK’s most beloved broadcasters and for six decades has travelled to the remotest corners of the world filming nature and natural history programmes for the BBC.

But despite describing himself as lucky to have spent his life travelling the globe, Attenborough, who has two children, Susan and Robert, said he had missed formative moments of their lives.

Speaking in the Radio Times to documentary maker Louis Theroux, who has a young family, Attenborough said: “If I do have regrets, it is that when my children were the same age as your children, I was away for three months at a time. If you have a child of six or eight and you miss three months of his or her life, it’s irreplaceable; you miss something.”

Attenborough married his wife Elizabeth in 1950 and they were married for 47 years, until she died of a brain haemorrhage in 1997. Attenborough was in New Zealand filming The Life Of Birds when she went into a coma but he made it back just in time to be with her before she died. He still lives in the house they shared.

His daughter, a primary school teacher, still lives in the UK and his son is a senior lecturer in biological anthropology at an Australian university. Both are now in their 50s and Attenborough said that his absence growing up had become a running joke in the family.

“There used to be family jokes,” he said. “You know, ‘You were never there. You don’t remember that, Father, do you, because you weren’t there!’”

After his wife died, Attenborough has said in the past that throwing himself into work and travelling the world helped him cope. “I did cope by working, and again it was just the most fantastic luck that I was able to. If my life had gone in a different way – say I had gone into the oil business, which I once considered doing – I would have been out at 60,” he said in 2009.

Attenborough’s television output has not waned in recent years. His most recent series, Planet Earth II, won two television Baftas this year, including best specialist factual programme, and drew in audiences of 12 million. Even though it took 10 years to make the second series, the show’s producers have not ruled out making a Planet Earth III, despite the enormous resources it requires and the fact that Attenborough could be over 100 years old by the time it would be completed.

Attenborough once again reiterated his concern at the damage human beings were doing to the natural world, through pollution, global warming and overpopulation. He told the Radio Times: “The land is being scorched, deserts are spreading, and the seas are warming – well, all those factors cause great changes in our fortunes, and will do.”

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