Sir David Attenborough said that “internal BBC politics” meant he spent much of his career documenting wildlife abroad rather than in the British Isles.
The broadcaster and naturalist, 96, said as much when he joined the Line of Duty broadcaster in 1952 and later became BBC Two’s controller.
His association with natural history programming began with Animal Patterns before starring in historical series such as Blue Planet and Planet Earth.
The author’s latest project for The Bodyguard Network is the five-part series Wild Isles, which aims to shed light on the amazing wildlife closer to home.
Speaking to presenter Chris Packham for Winterwatch, he was asked if he had always wanted to do a series about British wildlife.
Sir David said: “Well, yes, and that’s just internal BBC policy.
‘I joined [the BBC] 1952, and television was limited to London only. Bristol had a Natural History unit on radio but no television.
The veteran presenter continued, “So we had a great meeting and they said, ‘Look, you’re doing natural history TV and I think we should agree on that because if TV comes here, obviously we want history- doing TV.’ .You know what, we do British natural history and you can do all these things in Africa.
“And I said, ‘It’s a perfect fit for me,’ so it’s a big ambition to be fulfilled.”
The Natural History series has an introductory episode explaining why Britain and Ireland are important to nature around the world.
The remaining four-hour episodes will celebrate the islands’ four main habitats: forests, grasslands, freshwater and the sea.
Sir David also spoke about the lack of action on climate change, saying: “We’ve made it through the first half. The United Nations, the leaders of the world, people saying the right things, doing the right things, but I see not results.
‘I have no idea [what’s going to happen]. We just have to keep up the pressure, whether we win or lose, we have to do everything we can.
“And I think we are. Many people are everywhere, all kinds of organizations.’
Sir David also said that despite his work to raise awareness of the issues affecting the natural world, he “will not personally leave a lasting legacy”.
He added: “But I think the BBC’s policy of showing prime-time natural history and so on with your programs and my programs has actually increased British awareness of nature, which is quite remarkable.
“It’s an awareness that I don’t think exists anywhere else.”