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Leicester 2002 Monday, 9 September, 2002, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Film-maker confronts deepest fear
Sir David Attenborough, BBC
Sir David Attenborough: A past president of the BA

Sir David Attenborough has given a glimpse of what it is like to be a globetrotting natural history film-maker and the things that make him squirm.

After the huge international success of his Blue Planet series last year, Sir David is now making 10 one-hour programmes documenting the Life Of Mammals, to be screened in the UK in November.

The new series shows him come face to face with one of his least favourite animals - the rat.

"If there is one animal in the whole animal kingdom I would rather not make a programme about it is the rat," he told reporters at the British Association's science festival in Leicester. "But it is an extremely successful omnivore and we couldn't ignore it."

The 76-year-old film-maker visited a temple in Rajasthan in northern India where the rodents are held to be sacred.

Bare ankles

"They breed in enormous quantities in this temple and devotees go in there, sit down and all these rats run over them and share their meals."

Sir David was required to do an interview sitting on a stool and, because it was a temple, wear no shoes or socks.

"I turned up early and found my director smearing banana up the legs of the stool. Sitting there and doing an interview if you know there are about 30 rats trying to get up your ankles - it is very difficult to concentrate."

Sir David is hoping Life Of Mammals will repeat the achievements of Blue Planet, the six-parter on ocean life that took five years to make and cost 7m.

He said the new series would pioneer new low-light and infrared camera technology. "A great many mammals are nocturnal species."

BA science festival at Leicester University.

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