When David Attenborough's memoir Life on Air was published in 2002, the magazine I worked for arranged for me to interview him. By then I had been interviewing people for a while and thought myself quite unflusterable. I keyed in the number, listened to the dial tone. And then it was as if the call had been answered by God (interesting, as an atheist). My recording device failed, and I did an awful interview, flummoxed by the sound of That Voice. That Voice had explained so much of my planet and so many of its life forms to me; it was as if it had brought them into being.
I thought of this as I read this new book. A chatty and engaging memoir of another broadcasting life – Robyn Williams's – the sound of his voice, his broadcast voice, also rises from its pages, loud and clear. For forty years, at midday each Saturday, Robyn Williams has delivered The Science Show. His voice has a kind of ecclesiastic ring in my personal audio archives, if we take Attenborough as the deity.