Sir David Attenborough says Venezuela rainforest ordeal was his worst career experience


Sir David Attenborough Opens Woodberry Wetlands

Sir David Attenborough has said being stranded in the Venezuelan rainforest was the worst experience of his career as a naturalist.

The 89-year-old broadcaster told BBC Focus Magazine about a night on Mount Roraima which has lived long in his memory.

During filming for The Private Life Of Plants, which premiered on BBC One in 1995, Sir David and his crew were filming on the summit in bad weather.

But they later discovered there was only one tent - and around eight crew members.

Sir David told the magazine: "There was bare rock with water sluicing across it, and we all just sat in the tent on top of one another."

He added: "I remember that night very well - the torrential rain and that tiny two-men tent with all of us in it. At least we got the sequence. But the question is, did they use it? And the answer is no!"

Sir David Attenborough in 1962 when he was head of the Travel and Talks dept. (BBC)

Sir David's milestone 90th birthday on May 8 will be celebrated in BBC One's Inspiring Attenborough: Sir David At 90.

One of the world's most respected wildlife experts, Sir David joined the BBC in 1952. He co-presented The Pattern Of Animals, his first natural history series, with famous naturalist Sir Julian Huxley.

By 1965, he was controller of BBC Two.

David Attenborough turns 90 in May (BBC)

Sir David oversaw the introduction of colour TV to Britain, and became director of programmes for BBC One and BBC Two.

The London-born star returned to making natural history documentaries in 1973. Seminal series Life On Earth, at the time the most ambitious series the BBC had ever produced, was broadcast in 1979.

Over the years, Sir David has given millions of viewers countless memorable moments.

Sir David Attenborough in a scene from Zoo Quest (BBC)

He was attacked by military ants in Africa, he abseiled down a rainforest tree when he was in his late 60s and few will forget when Sir David played with baby gorillas during Life On Earth.

Asked to name his favourite possession, Sir David's answer will probably keep search engines busy for a long while to come.

"The skeleton of a tiny crustacean called Kiwa tyleri is my favourite object - it sits on my desk," he said.

David Attenborough on his wedding day in 1950 (PA)

"It was collected from a hydrothermal vent at the bottom of the Atlantic near South Georgia. No human could ever survive alongside this marvellous little thing."

Inspiring Attenborough: Sir David At 90 will be broadcast on BBC One on May 8.