Liz Nicholls asks award-winning presenter and biologist Liz Bonnin about school, the live tour of the BBC’s Planet Earth II this spring and how we can all do our bit.
Q. Which early experiences or teachers sparked your love of nature? “I grew up in France, in the mountains above Nice. My sister and I were always out in the wood near our house with our two dogs, having adventures with hedgehogs, snakes and spiders. Nature just works its magic if you plonk kids in the middle of it. At school, I was fascinated by little birds, how everything worked inside that perfect little body, which led me to biology. Then I wanted to understand how everything worked in every living system and I had a great chemistry teacher in Ireland who nurtured my passion. A good teacher will do that. I wasn’t very good at physics or maths but I loved school.”
Q. Do series such as Planet Earth, and Sir David Attenborough’s latest Seven Worlds, One Planet have an influence on how we treat our planet? “We’ve reached a tipping point in terms of our impact, and one of the things I’m most astounded by is that petrochemical companies are just seemingly carrying on as if it’s ‘business as usual’. I believe we can make a difference, but need to be aware of the facts. I think series like Planet Earth can both move and inspire people.”
Q. Has filming Meat: A Threat To Our Planet changed your eating habits? “I already was eating less meat. The show certainly made me think again about how we treat a food that, considering its impact, should be a luxury rather than an everyday staple. I don’t eat red meat and any chicken I eat is free range, high welfare.”
Q. How do you feel about Planet Earth II’s live tour? ”It hasn’t quite sunk in that I’ll be involved. So, to be stepping out as part of the tour and getting to see it all on a gigantic screen with a full orchestra as well… I think I’ll be quite emotional.”
Q. What is it like working with a national treasure Sir David? “I’ve met Sir David on a few occasions now, and I’ll never forget the first time I saw him about 12 years ago when he was talking at an event. I was a bit starstruck; he was my hero when I was growing up. He went from production work into inventing natural history programming with the BBC. There really is nobody else like him and I doubt there ever will be again. He’s not just a national treasure, but one for the whole world.”