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The revolution will be televised

Are documentaries effective tools for making people care about climate change? Kaya Purchase investigates

David Attenborough is a national treasure. In fact, The Guardian newspaper has stated that he was voted ‘Britain’s most trustworthy celebrity’. This trust has been won by a lifetime documenting the wildest places on Earth to give the public a peek into the secret lives of the animal kingdom, from the tiniest insect to the giant blue whale. Providing the public with such an extensive catalogue of documentaries has allowed people to see how invaluable the role of each and every species is to our existence. It has helped people see the extraordinary magic of survival practised by wildlife against all odds. But, the most definitive element of Attenborough’s documentaries is his voice, or rather his narration. His voice is now so iconic that it’s almost as recognisable to a British person as the Union Jack. By overlaying programmes with his distinctive tones, the documentaries become stories, as opposed to just a dictation of facts, which helps the audience feel empathy for these creatures, making their plight more emotive. In episode two, Frozen Worlds, of Attenborough’s new Netflix series Our Planet, we are shown the largest gathering of walrus on Earth.

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