Today Edward O Wilson, the inspirational conservationist and the first person to use the word ‘biodiversity’ in print, sent an email in reply to a letter I wrote him last week.

I wanted his reflection on my concern about the gap between the widespread use of the word ‘biodiversity’ in conversation and in the media and people’s understanding of its meaning. I suggested that the gap could best be bridged via a blue-chip natural history TV documentary series and expressed puzzlement at this apparent gap in the illustrious record of the genre.

In his generous reply Professor Wilson agreed with my premise and was very complimentary about my archive.

In my letter to him I had acknowledged an immeasurable debt of gratitude to him because, without the word ‘biodiversity’, my archive would be inconceivable.

I also sent a similar letter to Sir David Attenborough who graciously replied by post in beautiful handwriting. He did not refer to my point about the apparent gap in the record of natural history documentaries, but confirmed that my two contacts in the BBC’s Natural History Unit were the people best able to realise a programme or series on biodiversity.