For more than half a century, Sir David Attenborough has travelled the globe to bring viewers the finest footage of the natural world.

This Christmas, he is to turn his hand to something rather different as he unveils the secret music collection he has compiled quietly throughout his career.

English naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough with two ring-tailed lemurs during a Christmas lecture at London zoo. Photo / Getty
English naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough with two ring-tailed lemurs during a Christmas lecture at London zoo. Photo / Getty

The broadcaster could legitimately restyle himself DJ David Attenborough, as he presents his own show on

BBC Radio 3

in a one-off foray into music radio.

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The veteran broadcaster said he is "delighted" that audiences will finally hear the tracks he has been recording since 1954, as they "finally come to light".

Sir David, who worked as a sound recordist during his early days at the BBC, will tell Radio 3 audiences how he used his travels to build a unique collection of music, recording local sounds as he went along.

Works he will play on Christmas Day include songs from Borneo longhouses, drumming in Sierra Leone, gamelan music in Java, Aboriginal didgeridoo players, palace music from Tonga and the singing of young men carrying the film crew's bags in New Guinea.

 Sir David Attenborough poses with a floral sculpture of himself outside the Royal Botanical Gardens.Photo / Getty
Sir David Attenborough poses with a floral sculpture of himself outside the Royal Botanical Gardens.Photo / Getty

It will also broadcast the original theme tune from ZooQuest: harp players he recorded in Paraguay.

Sir David has been giving his tapes to the BBC Sound Archives since 1954, and will now air them with his own recollections for the first time.

"I'm delighted that the music I recorded, all over the world, half a century ago, is coming to light at last," he said.

Queen Elizabeth II and Sir David Attenborough. Photo / Getty
Queen Elizabeth II and Sir David Attenborough. Photo / Getty

"I'm enjoying listening to it very much and I hope the Radio 3 audience will enjoy it, too - and the stories of how I met the players and singers who shared with me their fascinating and wonderful music."

The show is one of the new commissions from BBC Radio to be broadcast over Christmas, announced by Bob Shennan on Tuesday night.

The full schedule will also include a special episode of Gardener's Question Time recorded at Number 10 Downing Street, lifting the lid on the horticultural habits of Britain's Prime Ministers.

Paul Schooling, the head gardener who has worked there for 27 years, will tell Radio 4 listeners of the moment he nearly fell foul of Baroness Thatcher even after she had left office.

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher Photo / Getty
Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher Photo / Getty

"When Margaret Thatcher lived at No. 10, a rose from the garden was cut every day and put in her study, but when I arrived the roses needed changing," he said ahead of the broadcast.

"Then, John Major wanted a rose arch so we put that in and put in some new roses, which are still there now.

"When Margaret Thatcher came back for a reception, she noticed what we'd done and I got a bit of a ticking off for it.

"She said: 'Why have the roses been changed? There was nothing wrong with them.' But you couldn't argue - you just had to take it."

Glenda Jackson as King Lear and Rhys Ifans as Fool in William Shakespeare's King Lear . Photo / Getty
Glenda Jackson as King Lear and Rhys Ifans as Fool in William Shakespeare's King Lear . Photo / Getty

Other highlights will see Glenda Jackson, 80, perform King Lear fresh from her success at the Old Vic, while

Just A Minute

puts on its own pantomime in honour of its 50th anniversary.

Nadiya Hussain, the Great British Bake Off winner, will present a festive cookery show, while Kenny Everett shares the secrets of his relationship with the Beatles, including how he inspired lyrics to I Am The Walrus after taking John Lennon on a rainy walk on a golf course near his Weybridge home.

Nadiya Hussain. Photo / Getty
Nadiya Hussain. Photo / Getty
Desert Island Discs

guests will include Bruce Springsteen, Gareth Malone and Sir Kenneth Grange, while ballet dancer Ed Watson and Archbishop of York John Sentamu join

Radio 3's Private Passions.

As the BBC announced the season last night, new director of radio and education James Purnell spoke out for the importance of British broadcasting.

Gareth Malone . Photo / Getty
Gareth Malone . Photo / Getty

In his first speech since taking the role, he raised questions about the future of British programmes in a world of streaming services such as

Netflix

, adding: "That's why public service broadcasting matters.

"Because we don't know what we don't know. Because we don't yet know what we will like. Because we don't just want what customers like us bought."