Too much cooking, gardening and drama on TV, says Sir David Attenborough

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Modern television focuses too heavily on reality and lifestyle-based programmes rather than exploring new subjects, Sir David Attenborough has said.

The former BBC Two controller criticised the amount of cooking and gardening shows as well as the amount of drama, arguing he wanted to see broadcasters "explore new things".

However the 90-year-old leapt to the defence of the BBC, calling the licence fee the "biggest possible bargain in Britain".

David Attenborough
(David Parry/PA)

Speaking with presenter and journalist Andrew Marr at a Royal Television Society event in the House of Commons, Sir David said: "The BBC has to be there and has to do things that others don't tackle.

"A lot of the people I talk to, and I hope I'm not too cliquish, but a lot of the people are delighted to pay for what they get for networks, radio networks, and three or four television networks."

On the state of current TV Sir David said: "I think personally that we are doing too many actuality shows and, important though they are, there are other things like cooking, and so on, and gardening, which are very good and certainly should be on the network but we are doing rather too much of.

"We are also doing a lot of drama. And personally as an ex-channel 2 controller I think we are doing too much. Not because there's anything wrong with them in themselves, they are all absolutely excellent in their own way, but we are nudging out, and we are not exploring new things and new subjects enough."

David Attenborough
(Yui Mok/PA)

His view was echoed by Andrew who called on his employers to produce more science programmes.

Andrew said: "We are living through an age of extraordinary scientific renaissance. This is the most exciting time to be alive when it comes to science, when it comes to material science, microbial science, deep science and planets.

"We do some of it in my view not nearly enough."

David Attenborough
(Yui Mok/PA)

During the event, which covered the expanse of Sir David's career as a broadcaster, the distinguished presenter was asked for his five favourite television programmes of the last 60 years.

He replied: "Porridge. It is absolutely top of almost anything.

"It seems to me a drama, a comedy, a deep insight into human personalities, causes you to think, magnificently played, perfectly cast.

"I don't know a better series on television.

He added: "I'll let you have the other four."