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Sir David Attenborough stabbed by ‘dangerous’ cactus while filming new series

Sir David Attenborough travelled across the globe for his latest series (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)
Sir David Attenborough travelled across the globe for his latest series (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

Sir David Attenborough was stabbed by a cactus with needles like glass while filming his latest TV series.

The 95-year-old naturalist and broadcaster wore protective gear while investigating the cholla cactus in California during shooting for The Green Planet on BBC One.

However, the combination of a Kevlar under-glove and a welding glove failed to prevent him from being hurt by “spicules of glass” while reaching inside the plant.

The new series from the BBC’s Natural History Unit uses ground-breaking filming techniques to show viewers the intricate lives of plants and the ecosystems that flourish around them – and the ways in which they are just as aggressive as animals.

Sir David said: “The cholla really is a physical danger.

“It has these very dense spines in rosettes, so they point in all directions.

“And if you just brush against it, the spines are like spicules of glass, I mean they are that sharp and they go into you and you really have trouble getting them out.

“So that is a really dangerous plant. The cholla is an active aggressor. I mean, you feel you better stand back and you better watch out.”

Green Planet premiere – Glasgow
The Green Planet uses groundbreaking filming techniques to show viewers the intricate world of plants (Jane Barlow/PA)

Executive producer Michael Gunton added: “One of the joys of going on location is thinking up horrible things to get (David) to do.

“So what we did, because it was so dangerous, was we got a Kevlar under-glove, and then on top of that, a welding glove.

“So you can imagine that’s about as good protection as you could possibly get.

“So, David bravely put his hand inside this cholla cactus, as requested. And halfway through it, these spikes still managed to get through those two bits of protection.

“And it’s quite painful, isn’t it?”

The Green Planet will see Sir David travel across the globe, from the US to Costa Rica and across Europe to different terrains including deserts, water worlds, tropical forests and the frozen north.

The documentary series, which comes 26 years after The Private Life Of Plants aired on BBC One, aims to show “how science and technologies have advanced, and how our understanding of the ways in which plants behave and interact has evolved”, the BBC has said.

In November, the series had its global premiere in Glasgow in conjunction with the Cop26 summit on tackling climate change.

The Green Planet begins on BBC One on January 9.

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