#13 BBC Wildlife Documentaries in the Age of Attenborough | WeAreSTS

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In this episode, Dr Jean-Baptiste Gouyon discusses his recent book, BBC Wildlife Documentaries in the Age of Attenborough. This is a history of British natural history filmmaking across the twentieth century. It also is an analysis of how filmmakers establish their identity and authority, such as through “making-of” segments added to their films. Crucial to Jean-Baptiste’s analysis is the work of Sir David Attenborough, whose career as a broadcaster and natural history filmmaker has profoundly influenced British wildlife television on the BBC and beyond. In researching his book, Jean-Baptiste interviewed Sir David. We talk about his experiences meeting the master of natural history of television.

Natural history documentaries are hugely popular on British television. They offer great examples of science communication, and they have a long history, stretching back to the early days of broadcasting by the BBC, and more.

As luck would have it, here in STS, we have an expert in these programmes and the people who create them. Dr Jean-Baptiste Gouyon is Associate Professor of Science Communication in our department. He teaches science journalism, sociology of science, and lots more. He also is co-director of our new MSc in Science Communication.

A few years ago, Jean-Baptiste published a book on the history of British natural history documentaries, BBC Wildlife Documentaries in the Age of Attenborough (Palgrave). And yes, while research it he met and interviewed the one and only, David Attenborough.

The book we discussed was:




Additional voices

  • Jasmine Chakravary, UCL Class of 2021, spoke about our STS master’s degrees
  • Pierre-Elie Balsan, UCL Class of 2023, spoke about STS

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Editing and post-production by Professor Joe Cain, unless otherwise noted.

WeAreSTS producer is Professor Joe Cain.

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