BBC Two’s Talking Pictures will feature the late Richard Attenborough today. Filmed before his death, the show will see the filmmaker share clips and images that shaped his life. This week, the nature expert shares an insight into the life and work of actor and director Richard Attenborough, his brother. Richard’s younger brother, the legendary nature broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, will also feature in the program, with the two known to be incredibly close before Richard died aged 90 in 2014. Sir David will open up while viewing vintage interviews and classic archive clips illustrating a career that made Richard one of British cinema’s most popular and successful
Sir David has spoken about his love for his brother on numerous occasions, including a throwback interview with the Mail in 2011 where he came “close to tears”.
Two years prior to the interview, Richard had suffered a fall in his home, and Sir David explained in his interview how the health of his sibling had impacted him.
He said: “He fell downstairs and damaged his brain, so was unconscious for a long time. He’s now back, but he’s in a wheelchair.
“We all change and old age brings changes.
“You can have a conversation with him. I go down and see him at the weekend. We have our jokes, the ones we’ve had since we were kids.”
The journalist who conducted the interview wrote that, at this point, Sir David was “close to tears”.
Sir David also candidly discussed his own mortality in the interview.
Asked if he thought about death, the naturist replied: “Oh all the time.
“We’re all going to die. I think if I was living in the 16th century and believed there was hellfire and eternal torture awaiting me, I’d be frightened of death.”
When the journalist suggested that the much loved TV icon would surely be headed for Heaven, Sir David replied: “Not necessarily.
“You might think you were doing ok in the eyes of the Almighty, but he could say, ‘Ah, no.’
“I can see why a lot of devout people are terrified of death, but if you say to yourself, ‘I’ve no idea what’s going to happen’, how can you be terrified?
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“I only hope I don’t have too painful or too lingering a death, but the idea that I shall become extinguished doesn’t trouble me particularly.”
Sir David was then asked if he believes in a God.
He said: “Oh no. While it would be unscientific not to acknowledge that there are areas we don’t know anything about, it’s equally unscientific to say ‘I will therefore believe there are little green men living on an asteroid whizzing round the world or, indeed, there’s an old guy with a long grey beard sitting on a cloud.’
“What I mean to say is, I’m grateful.
“I’m not complaining. Whether complaining means to someone up there or someone over there I don’t know. But I’m not complaining because I think I’m so lucky.
“I’ve been in broadcasting for 60 years. It’s unbelievable. I’ve been earning a living for 60 years.”
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Sir David’s love for his brother was also evident in 2014, when he said he couldn’t watch Richard in the crime drama 10 Rillington Place as he played a serial killer.
The BBC naturalist Sir David, who said in an interview that he wished his Oscar-winning film veteran brother Richard had been able to display his skills as a comic actor, refused to watch 1971 film 10 Rillington Place saying “I couldn’t bear to watch my dear brother imitating a sexual murderer”.
Sir David told Radio Times magazine that he was sorry his brother hadn’t appeared in more comedies: “The thing that I’m sorry about is that actually Dick was a marvellous comic actor.”
“He was very, very funny, and could be – and was – in domestic circumstances. We just spent all our time roaring with laughter – and that didn’t get much of an outlet in his feature films.
“I mean, Christmas time, you know, we just sat around, roaring with laughter.”