Educated at Harrow School and the Universities of St. Andrew’s and Durham, Alastair joined the BBC Natural History Unit in 1983. He has worked on a wide range of the department’s programmes, including the BAFTA award-winning ‘The Really Wild Show’, ‘Wildlife on One’, ‘The Natural World’ and the innovative ‘Reefwatch’, where he was one of the team that developed the first live broadcasting from beneath the sea.
Alastair went on to work on the BBC1 series ‘The Trials of Life’ with Sir David Attenborough. In 1993 he produced ‘Life in the Freezer’, a six-part series for BBC1 celebrating the wildlife of the Antarctic, presented by Sir David Attenborough. While still working on this series, he was appointed Head of the BBC Natural History Unit in November 1992, aged 32.
In June 1998 he stood down as Head of the Unit to concentrate on his role as Series Producer of ‘The Blue Planet’, a landmark series on the natural history of the world’s oceans. In 2001 Alastair become Director of Development for the Natural History Unit and in 2002 he co-presented ‘Going Ape’, a film that took him to the Ivory Coast in Africa. He has produced ‘Deep Blue’, a cinematic movie of the world’s oceans and was one of the presenters and executive producer of the innovative live broadcast ‘Live from the Abyss’.
He was Series Producer for the Natural History Unit’s landmark series, ‘Planet Earth’, the ultimate portrait of our planet and subsequently co-directed the cinematic version ‘Earth’ to great worldwide acclaim. He was also Executive Producer on the Unit’s major landmark series ‘Frozen Planet’, a natural history of the Polar Regions, which aired to record audiences and critical acclaim in autumn 2011.
In addition to his work with the BBC Natural History Unit, Alastair co-directed two cinematic movies for Disney as part of their Disney Nature label. One of these movies featured the big cats of East Africa and was released in the states in April 2011 and worldwide during 2012. The second movie, featuring chimpanzees, was released in the USA in April 2012 and will be released worldwide in 2013.
In November 2012 Alastair left the BBC to set up his own production company Silverback Films. He is currently co-directing two further cinema films for Disney Nature. Silverbacks Films is also making a new landmark series for BBC 1, which looks at the relationships between predators and their prey. This series is due for broadcast in autumn 2015.
Alastair is a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, who awarded him their gold medal in 2102. He has honorary doctorates from the Universities of Durham and Hull. Alastair lives in Bristol with his wife Melinda and two teenage sons.