Episode 1

Duration: 30 minutes

First transmitted in 1961, this series captures the four months David Attenborough, cameraman Geoffrey Mulligan and Malagasy ornithologist Georges Randrianasolo spent travelling several thousand miles throughout the island of Madagascar. They set out to meet the people of Madagascar and study their local customs as well as film some of the remarkable animals which occur nowhere else in the world. Starting in the south of Madagascar, David Attenborough hopes to find an Aepyornis egg. The Aepyornis, or elephant bird, may have given rise to the legend of the gigantic bird known as the rukh or roc. Attenborough reconstructs an Aepyornis egg from fragments, and also sees tortoises and sifakas.

More episodes

  • BBC Four Attenborough Collection

    David Attenborough – The Early Years
    This programme is part of a collection of programmes showcasing the early work of Sir David Attenborough.

    Go to the BBC Four Attenborough Collection
  • More about this programme

    The Aepyornis egg that Sir David Attenborough pieced together over 50 years ago is still one of his most treasured possessions. In 2011, Attenborough returned to the island of Madagascar on a very personal quest; to find out more about this amazing creature and to see how the island has changed. Could the elephant bird's fate provide lessons that may help protect Madagascar's remaining wildlife?

    BBC Two: Attenborough and the Giant Egg

  • About BBC Four Collection programmes

    Programmes are selected, in part, for their historical context and reflect the broadcast standards and attitudes of their time, which may not accord to some current BBC editorial guidelines. We aim to select programmes which can be shown in their entirety but in some cases edits are required.


David Attenborough
Camera Operator
Geoffrey Mulligan
David Attenborough


  • Fri 2 Jun 1961 20:25 BBC Television Service

  • Sun 2 Oct 1966 14:50 BBC One

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