Sir David Attenborough breaks Jennifer Aniston’s Instagram record

Programme Name: Extinction: The Facts - TX: n/a - Episode: Extinction: The Facts - Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Sir David Attenborough - (C) BBC - Photographer: Sam Barker

Sir David Attenborough has broken Jennifer Aniston’s record for the fastest time to reach a million followers on Instagram.

At 94 years young, the naturalist’s follower count raced to seven figures in four hours 44 minutes on Thursday, according to Guinness World Records.

His debut post said: “Saving our planet is now a communications challenge.”

Last October, Friends star Aniston reached the milestone in five hours and 16 minutes.

In his first video, the veteran broadcaster told followers: “I am making this move and exploring this new way of communication to me because, as we all know, the world is in trouble.

“Continents are on fire. Glaciers are melting. Coral reefs are dying. Fish are disappearing from our oceans. The list goes on and on. Saving our planet is now a communications challenge.”


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David Attenborough has spent a lifetime travelling, exploring the wild places of our planet and documenting the living world in all its variety and wonder. He’s also witnessed the damaged caused. Saving our planet is now a communications challenge. We know what to do, we just need the will. That’s why we want to share this message on Instagram. Because there is hope and together, we can inspire change. Social media isn’t David’s usual habitat so while he’s recorded messages solely for Instagram, like the one in this post, we’re helping to run this account. In case you’re wondering, ‘we’ are Jonnie and Colin and we worked with David on A Life On Our Planet. So, as well as sharing the messages he’s recorded especially for this account we’ll also post some exclusive clips and behind the scenes content. Stay tuned.

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He joins a varied list of public figures who have at some point held the record for the fastest to gain a million followers.

Instagram record holders:

  • Sir David Attenborough – four hours 44 minutes (September 2020)
  • Jennifer Aniston – five hours 16 minutes (October 2019)
  • Duke and Duchess of Sussex – five hours 45 minutes (April 2019)
  • Kang Daniel, K-Pop star – 11 hours 36 minutes (January 2019)
  • Pope Francis – 12 hours (March 2016)
  • David Beckham – 24 hours (May 2015)

Sir David’s total following rose to 2.5 million within 24 hours. However, he is some way behind the most-followed person overall – footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 238 million.

“Social media isn’t David’s usual habitat,” wrote collaborators Jonnie Hughes, a BBC film-maker, and Colin Butfield, of the World Wildlife Fund. “So while he’s recorded messages solely for Instagram, like the one in this post, we’re helping to run this account.”

Sir David’s Instagram debut precedes the release of a book and a Netflix documentary, both titled A Life On Our Planet.

The film will see him reflect on his career and the decline of the planet’s environment and biodiversity, which he has observed first-hand.

Signing off, he invited viewers to “join me – or as we used to say in those early days of radio, stay tuned”.

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