Accueil / Ottoman / Sir David Attenborough’s first wildlife show Zoo Quest to be screened in colour
  • Nature documentary Zoo Quest first shown on the BBC in December 1954 
  • Sir David Attenborough thought the footage was filmed in black and white 
  • Series was broadcast 10 years before colour television was seen in the UK 

By Ben Tufft For Mailonline

Published: 17:28 GMT, 20 April 2016 | Updated: 17:41 GMT, 20 April 2016

Sir David Attenborough's first nature documentary, originally aired in black and white, is to be shown in colour to mark his 90th birthday.

Zoo Quest ran for seven series between 1954 and 1963 and was thought to have been filmed in the original mode of transmission.

The naturalist was stunned to discover that - after the footage had been unearthed from BBC vaults last year - the series was in fact shot in colour.

Sir David Attenborough's first nature documentary aired in black and white. The broadcaster is pictured with Benjamin, a Malaysian sun bear
Sir David pictured with Jane the chimp, who became a favourite with viewers

Sir David Attenborough's first nature documentary aired in black and white. The broadcaster is pictured with Benjamin, a Malaysian sun bear (left) and Jane the chimp, who became a favourite with viewers

Zoo Quest ran for seven series between 1954 and 1963. The naturalist was stunned to discover that - after the footage had been unearthed from BBC vaults last year - the series was shot in colour

Zoo Quest ran for seven series between 1954 and 1963. The naturalist was stunned to discover that - after the footage had been unearthed from BBC vaults last year - the series was shot in colour

'I was astonished when someone said we've got nearly all the film of the first three expeditions you did in colour,' Sir David said.

'I said, "It's impossible, we shot in black and white",' he added. 

Zoo Quest In Colour will be screened on BBC Four in May as part of a week of programming across the BBC to mark the veteran naturalist's milestone birthday on May 8.

First broadcast in December 1954, Zoo Quest was one of the most popular television series of its time and launched the career of the young David Attenborough as a wildlife presenter.

The series was broadcast 10 years before colour television was seen in the UK.

Zoo Quest In Colour will be screened on BBC Four in May to mark the veteran naturalist's milestone birthday

Zoo Quest In Colour will be screened on BBC Four in May to mark the veteran naturalist's milestone birthday

The series was broadcast 10 years before colour television was seen in the UK and made a star of Sir David

The series was broadcast 10 years before colour television was seen in the UK and made a star of Sir David

Zoo Quest was one of the most popular television series of its time and launched the career of the young David Attenborough (pictured)
Sir David Attenborough will be the focus of a number of programmes on the BBC to mark his 90th birthday

Zoo Quest was one of the most popular television series of its time and launched the career of the young David Attenborough (left) 

Using the newly-discovered colour 16mm film, together with behind the scenes stories from Sir David and cameraman Charles Lagus, the special will showcase the best of Zoo Quest To West Africa, Zoo Quest To Guiana and Zoo Quest For A Dragon in HD colour.

Mr Lagus said: 'At its best it's as good as any colour you see now, quite staggering for the period that it was filmed in. I was astonished.'

Other programmes to be screened as part of the week include Attenborough At 90 on BBC One, which will see presenter Kirsty Young talking to the broadcaster about his career and some of his animal encounters across the world.

BBC Two will also screen Life That Glows, in which Sir David looks at creatures such as glow worms, fire flies and luminous plankton to guide viewers through the world of bioluminescence.

Sir David said: 'I was astonished when someone said we've got nearly all the film of the first three expeditions you did in colour'

Sir David said: 'I was astonished when someone said we've got nearly all the film of the first three expeditions you did in colour'

Using the newly-discovered colour 16mm film, together with behind the scenes stories from Sir David and cameraman Charles Lagus, (right) the new show will bring together the best of the naturalist's programmes

Using the newly-discovered colour 16mm film, together with behind the scenes stories from Sir David and cameraman Charles Lagus, (right) the new show will bring together the best of the naturalist's programmes

Sir David is now the preeminent nature broadcaster in the world and his programmes are screened worldwide

Sir David is now the preeminent nature broadcaster in the world and his programmes are screened worldwide

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Sir David Attenborough’s first wildlife show Zoo Quest to be screened in colour

  • Nature documentary Zoo Quest first shown on the BBC in December 1954 
  • Sir David Attenborough thought the footage was filmed in black and white 
  • Series was broadcast 10 years before colour television was seen in the UK 

Ben Tufft For Mailonline

Sir David Attenborough’s first nature documentary, originally aired in black and white, is to be shown in colour to mark his 90th birthday.

Zoo Quest ran for seven series between 1954 and 1963 and was thought to have been filmed in the original mode of transmission.

The naturalist was stunned to discover that – after the footage had been unearthed from BBC vaults last year – the series was in fact shot in colour.

Sir David Attenborough's first nature documentary aired in black and white. The broadcaster is pictured with Benjamin, a Malaysian sun bear
Sir David pictured with Jane the chimp, who became a favourite with viewers

Sir David Attenborough’s first nature documentary aired in black and white. The broadcaster is pictured with Benjamin, a Malaysian sun bear (left) and Jane the chimp, who became a favourite with viewers

Zoo Quest ran for seven series between 1954 and 1963. The naturalist was stunned to discover that - after the footage had been unearthed from BBC vaults last year - the series was shot in colour

Zoo Quest ran for seven series between 1954 and 1963. The naturalist was stunned to discover that – after the footage had been unearthed from BBC vaults last year – the series was shot in colour

‘I was astonished when someone said we’ve got nearly all the film of the first three expeditions you did in colour,’ Sir David said.

‘I said, “It’s impossible, we shot in black and white”,’ he added. 

Zoo Quest In Colour will be screened on BBC Four in May as part of a week of programming across the BBC to mark the veteran naturalist’s milestone birthday on May 8.

First broadcast in December 1954, Zoo Quest was one of the most popular television series of its time and launched the career of the young David Attenborough as a wildlife presenter.

The series was broadcast 10 years before colour television was seen in the UK.

Zoo Quest In Colour will be screened on BBC Four in May to mark the veteran naturalist's milestone birthday

Zoo Quest In Colour will be screened on BBC Four in May to mark the veteran naturalist’s milestone birthday

The series was broadcast 10 years before colour television was seen in the UK and made a star of Sir David

The series was broadcast 10 years before colour television was seen in the UK and made a star of Sir David

Zoo Quest was one of the most popular television series of its time and launched the career of the young David Attenborough (pictured)
Sir David Attenborough will be the focus of a number of programmes on the BBC to mark his 90th birthday

Zoo Quest was one of the most popular television series of its time and launched the career of the young David Attenborough (left) 

Using the newly-discovered colour 16mm film, together with behind the scenes stories from Sir David and cameraman Charles Lagus, the special will showcase the best of Zoo Quest To West Africa, Zoo Quest To Guiana and Zoo Quest For A Dragon in HD colour.

Mr Lagus said: ‘At its best it’s as good as any colour you see now, quite staggering for the period that it was filmed in. I was astonished.’

Other programmes to be screened as part of the week include Attenborough At 90 on BBC One, which will see presenter Kirsty Young talking to the broadcaster about his career and some of his animal encounters across the world.

BBC Two will also screen Life That Glows, in which Sir David looks at creatures such as glow worms, fire flies and luminous plankton to guide viewers through the world of bioluminescence.

Sir David said: 'I was astonished when someone said we've got nearly all the film of the first three expeditions you did in colour'

Sir David said: ‘I was astonished when someone said we’ve got nearly all the film of the first three expeditions you did in colour’

Using the newly-discovered colour 16mm film, together with behind the scenes stories from Sir David and cameraman Charles Lagus, (right) the new show will bring together the best of the naturalist's programmes

Using the newly-discovered colour 16mm film, together with behind the scenes stories from Sir David and cameraman Charles Lagus, (right) the new show will bring together the best of the naturalist’s programmes

Sir David is now the preeminent nature broadcaster in the world and his programmes are screened worldwide

Sir David is now the preeminent nature broadcaster in the world and his programmes are screened worldwide

MOST WATCHED NEWS VIDEOS

MOST READ NEWS

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