The winner of the 2009 Asturias Social Science prize is Sir David Attenborough. Attenborough is one of Britain’s best loved celebrities, building a body of work in broadcasting and, most famously, translating his childhood fascination with fossils, the natural world and a natural science degree into factual and visually ravishing documentaries on life on the earth and under its oceans.
“His interest in the problems of our times, his permanent quest for excellence, and the quality of his reporting have brought him recognition from the international academic community, and given him a massive social impact through the popularity of his programmes in the international media, especially television,” said Asturias jury president Manuel fraga. From gorillas and insects to whales and polar bears Attenborough’s programmes have been sold all over the world. Some of his documentaries have cast doubt on conservative religious or political postions on issues like evolution and climate change. He has expressed his horror that some believe creationism or intelligent design should be taught in schools alongside evolution.