Definition December 2022 - Web


Singing through a pandemic

We delve into how Attenborough’s Wonder of Song was filmed in the UK, Germany and Australia – in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak

WORDS. Robert Shepherd IMAGES. Mike Birkhead Associates, George Woodcock and BBC

W hen BBC One ordered scientists and healthcare professionals. People commuted to the office (a bit more than they do these days), schools were open and hospitals weren’t overrun. For the most part, nobody had any idea that the world was about to grind to a halt. Following the success of Attenborough’s Wonder of Eggs , which had premiered on BBC Two in 2018 (highly commended in the best science documentary category at the Grierson documentary awards), production house Mike Birkhead Associates had been rewarded with this follow-up commission. Attenborough’s Wonder of Song in 2019, the word ‘coronavirus’ was limited to the lexicon of

The synopsis was beautifully simple: the beloved Sir David Attenborough selects his favourite songs from the natural world, all recorded during the 96-year-old broadcaster’s lifetime, featuring animals ranging from lemur to humpback whale and lyrebird. Human understanding of animal song has long been informed by Charles Darwin’s theory on sexual selection; although singing is dangerous since it reveals the singer’s location, males must sing to attract a mate, while females listen and choose their suitor. However, recent scientific discoveries now challenge certain long-held beliefs. Many females sing too, for reasons scientists still don’t fully understand.


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