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David Attenborough heartbreak as he recalls losing his beloved wife ‘The anchor had gone’

The Green Planet: David Attenborough hosts new BBC documentary

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In David Attenborough’s memoir Life on Air, the iconic natural historian and author wrote about his wife’s final moments. He revealed the day she died, she tightly held onto his hand as he described her death, leaving him feeling “lost”. David opened up about grief and mentioned his daughter was consistently there for him when he felt deep grief.

David is known for his astonishing work on nature documentaries like Planet Earth, Blue Planet and Dynasties.

In his memoir, he revealed that the making of his documentaries and delving into another world is what helped him cope with his wife’s death.

David was married to Jane Elizabeth Ebsworth Oriel for 47 years before her death in 1997. They had two children together, Robert and Susan, who are both in their 50s.

Jane sadly died after she collapsed with a brain haemorrhage at the age of 70, leaving her husband and her children devastated.

At the time of Jane falling ill, David was away filming in New Zealand for The Life of the Bird documentary, but he luckily made it back to the UK before she passed away.

He wrote about Jane’s final moments and revealed he found her in a coma, to which the doctor suggested he hold her hand.

He said: “She did and gave my hand a squeeze. the focus of my life, the anchor had gone…now I was lost.”

In 2009, he revealed: “I coped by working. It was the most fantastic luck that I was able to work.

“If my life had gone a different way – say I had gone into the oil business, which I once considered doing – I would have been out at 60.”

David still lives in his family home in Richmond Upon Thames, London, after Jane died over 24 years ago.

As he spoke about the grief, he told RadioTimes.co.uk: “You accommodate things… you deal with things. I’m quite used to solitude in the wilds, but, no, an empty house is not what I enjoy.

“But my daughter’s there. In moments of grief – deep grief – the only consolation you can find is in the natural world.”

David has been a firm household name for many years and has seen the most remarkable things in his career, going on to share them with the world.

Sir David is the only person to have won BAFTAs in TV categories in black and white, colour, high-definition, 3D and 4K resolutions, going on to be knighted in 1985.

David has been working on a new documentary series called The Green Planet for BBC One.

It has been reported the legendary naturalist was stabbed by a cactus with needles while filming the latest series.

The new series uses ground-breaking filming techniques to show viewers the intricate lives of plants and the ecosystems that flourish around them.

Talking about the incident, he explained: “It has these very dense spines in rosettes, so they point in all directions.

“And if you just brush against it, the spines are like spicules of glass, I mean, they are that sharp, and they go into you, and you really have trouble getting them out.

“So that is a really dangerous plant. The cholla is an active aggressor. I mean, you feel you better stand back, and you better watch out.”

The Green Planet begins on BBC One on January 9, 2022.  

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