David Attenborough is something of a national treasure, but how has the veteran broadcaster managed to maintain his popularity? ‘It’s easy if you don’t have to do controversial things,’ according to Attenborough, who said in an interview in 2017 that if he does have controversial thoughts, he simply doesn’t share them.
That strategy seems to have been ditched. In an interview with Italian newspaper la Repubblica, Sir David has waded in on everyone’s favourite topic: Brexit. Here’s what he had to say:
‘I think that the irritation of the ways in which the European community has interfered with people’s lives on silly levels or silly issues has irritated a lot of people … They’re just fed up with somebody over there who doesn’t speak their language, telling him how much money they’ve got to charge for tomatoes or something silly … Maybe the European Union didn’t pay enough attention to what sort of things that members of Europe care about and has allowed themselves to do all sorts of things which irritate the members there at all.’
Asked whether he considered himself a Brexiteer or a Remainer, Attenborough replied:
‘I think there had to be a change, one way or another. And I think that…look, I am old enough to remember the last war. And I’m older now. We had German Jewish refugees living in our house throughout the war. When I see mobs…mobs of people are very, very ugly sight.’
These are the kinds of comments that are likely to wind up Brexiteers and Remainers. Perhaps Attenborough’s new strategy is to annoy both sides, spreading controversy in equal measure.
Or maybe he is following in the footsteps of Jeremy Corbyn. Last year, the Labour leader was unceremoniously dumped by Glastonbury, reportedly over his Brexit dithering. This year, Attenborough had a set at Glastonbury in which he praised organisers for ditching single-use plastic. Now that Attenborough has aired his views on Brexit, Mr S. wonders a return invitation might not be forthcoming.
Still, Attenborough is keeping schtum on some topics. Asked whether he voted for Brexit, he said: ‘I don’t reveal what I voted for’…