Broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough has been attacked on air. Picture: Mandel Ngan/AFP
Broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough has been attacked on air. Picture: Mandel Ngan/AFP

TV host brutally sledges global icon

Over the years, Sir David Attenborough has become a renowned environmental warrior - and a bona fide global treasure to boot.

The 92-year-old icon has been bringing the wilderness into our living rooms for decades thanks to groundbreaking nature documentaries like Our Planet, and in the process he has become one of the best-loved public figures in the world.

So when a UK TV host took a shocking swipe at his expense this week, viewers were stunned - and soon outraged.

The furore occurred when Dr Gail Bradbrook - the co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion protest that led to 290 arrests this week - was invited to appear on morning TV program Good Morning Britain.

There are calls for Good Morning Britain host Richard Madeley to issue a public apology. Picture: Good Morning Britain
There are calls for Good Morning Britain host Richard Madeley to issue a public apology. Picture: Good Morning Britain

Her organisation was formed to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse, and Dr Bradbrook is a passionate supporter of environmental causes.

Speaking with presenter Richard Madeley, she made the emotional claim that a catastrophic environmental crisis was looming.

"I have two boys, 10 and 13, and they won't have enough food to eat in a few years time," she said.

"Sir David Attenborough said the collapse of this civilisation could happen soon."

But Mr Madeley wasn't convinced - and seemed to question Sir David's credibility.

"He's not a saint you know. He's just a broadcaster," he said.

Within moments, the Twittersphere was flooded with fans leaping to the nature veteran's defence and slamming Mr Madeley.

Dr Gail Bradbrook cited David Attenborough on the show, sparking Mr Madeley’s stunning smackdown. Picture: Good Morning Britain
Dr Gail Bradbrook cited David Attenborough on the show, sparking Mr Madeley’s stunning smackdown. Picture: Good Morning Britain

Some even called on him to issue a "public apology" for insulting the living legend.

"Richard Madeley is an egotistical TV presenter with as much knowledge as a pickled onion, while criticising David Attenborough, a very educated, intelligent, knowledgeable, naturalist," furious Twitter user Antony Webber said, while Glen Dunvegan added: "Richard Madeley seems to think he knows more about #ClimateBreakdown than Sir David Attenborough, so perhaps we should let RM present an environmental program to show us all there's nothing to worry about? Or, better still, perhaps he should actually research the topic."

After stints in the navy and as a textbook editor, Sir David eventually scored a full-time gig at the BBC in 1952, dipping his toe into nature programs for the first time.

He rose through the ranks and became a senior manager, but when he was put forward as a contender candidate for the role of Director-General of the BBC in 1972, he decided it wasn't for him, and the next year he left management and returned to broadcasting, with Life on Earth airing in 1979.

Dozens of hit documentaries followed, and he has been honoured with a slew of awards, including a knighthood. several BAFTAs and a string of honorary degrees from British universities.

Sir David regularly appears on "most trusted celebrity" and "living icons" lists and has had scores of species named after him.

A new report by Global Web Index found the "Attenborough Effect" had led to a 53 per cent reduction in single-use plastic usage over the past 12 months in the UK and US.

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au



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