David Attenborough kept away from birds in Wild Isles over Avian Flu

The TV icon, 96, was kept away from fledging chicks during filming for his new series which is due to air on Saturday, March 12.

An infectious diseases expert warned executive producer Alastair Fothergill that a case of avian flu could be fatal to the popular presenter.

As a result, Fothergrill told the Radio Times that although it was “extremely hard” for humans to catch the disease the consequences for Sir David could be serious.

The producer and broadcaster have worked together for more than 30 years on various flagship BBC series including The Blue Planet in 2001 and Planet Earth in 2006.

Their latest project, Wild Isles, highlights the British Isles and the challenges they face across five episodes.

Each episode will capture all sides of our wild isle’s scenery from its woodland and grassland to freshwater and ocean habitats.

One of the show’s segments involved Sir David presenting alongside Manx shearwater chicks on Skomer Island off the Pembrokeshire coast of Wales.

The shot involved the chicks leaving their underground burrows for the first time and heading out on a 6,000-mile migratory journey.

Fothergrill said: “The shearwaters are not great at taking off, so what the warden on the island said is, ‘If you sit David close to the burrows, they will almost certainly climb up his arm onto his head and take off from his head,’ and we thought, ‘Wow, that could be TV gold.’ That was the plan.”

Two weeks before filming began, cases of Avian Flu on the neighbouring island of Grassholm were reported and it could be present on Skomer.

The producer reflected: “I have an old friend who’s an expert on infectious diseases and I rang him up for his opinion.

“He said, ‘Well, bird flu is actually extremely hard to catch, but if he gets it he will die.’”

The BBC producer decided to change tactics and use two infrared cameras to capture the moment instead.

One of the cameras faced Sir David and the other a boulder a few feet away from where they hoped the chicks would take flight.

In the end, the plan was successful, with Fothergill describing the final footage as one of Sir David’s “classic” moments.

When will David Attenborough’s new series air?

Wild Isles will air on Sunday, March 12 at 7 pm, according to Radio Times.

The programme will be broadcast on BBC One after Countryfile and before Antiques Roadshow.

Viewers will also be able to catch up on BBC iPlayer.

Read the full interview in Radio Times, out now. Episode One: Our Precious Isles will air on BBC One and iPlayer on March 12 at 7pm.

Courtesy of Harrow Times | Local News